by: Andrew Herbert (guest blogger)
When it comes to attracting friendly critters to your yard, bats probably aren’t the first animals you think of. However, these nocturnal flying mammals can be great little workers for the smart gardener.
What Are the Benefits of Bats?
Attracting bats to your garden has some real benefits that will help keep your yard healthy and free from pests. And don’t worry – though some might find bats a little spooky, they really aren’t interested in us humans. Most of the time, you won’t even know they are there.
Most species of bats prey on the nighttime insects that invade your yards, such as mosquitos, gnats, moths, and flying beetles. Insects are their main food source, and they can eat about half their own body weight in bugs every night. That adds up to hundreds of pest insects per bat removed from your yard every night. That means you can cut down on your use of pesticides, saving you money and another chore.
Bats are pollinators
Bats don’t only eat insects either. They also like to eat the nectar produced by your flowering plants. In a similar manner to bees, when bats eat the nectar from your plants, their fur helps to transfer pollen and pollinate the plants. Attracting more bats to your yard will mean that your plants are still being pollinated after the sun goes down, long after all the bees have returned to their hives.
Bats excrete prized fertilizer
Bats remove unwanted visitors from your garden, but they also leave behind something that you do want – their poop. Bat droppings, or guano, make for a great fertilizer that the bats will helpfully distribute across your yard when they visit. Guano can enrich your soil for a long time, and can really help your flowerbeds, herbs, and veggie gardens to grow and stay healthy. Why pay for fertilizer when the bats provide it for free?
Bats also distribute seeds
Similarly, the droppings of bats that eat fruits also serve to distribute the seeds of various plants. Bats can play a crucial role in the growth and spread of plants by helping to disperse their seeds. Attracting those types of bats to visit your yard can help encourage the growth of new trees and plants from the seeds of fruits that bats have eaten in your yard.
How To Attract Bats To Your Landscape
Bats are great for your yard. So how do you convince them to come to your landscape in the first place?
Give them a water source
Bats are looking for water to drink and bathe in every night as well as fruit and insects to eat. In fact, depending on the local environment, fresh water and a safe spot to bathe might be harder for them to find than food. Because of this, creating an outdoor water feature such as a pond with nearby small plants for the bats to fly over. If you don’t have the space to create a pond in your yard, a fountain or birdbath can be a great way to draw bats into your yard.
Plant night-blooming flowers
As we mentioned earlier, bats love nectar and are drawn to it by the scent of freshly blooming flowers. Furthermore, those same flowers will also help bring more of the insects that bats eat to your yard at night. Accordingly, planting your flowerbeds with flowers that release their strongest perfume at night will attract your local bat population more effectively than plants that are more fragrant during the day. Flowers that bloom at the night include datura, moonflower, yucca, phlox, and petunia.
Offer them shelter
Getting some kind of safe shelter for bats will help encourage them not just to visit, but maybe even take up residence out in your yard. Bats like dark, confined spaces where they can cling to something, such as the branches or cracks of an old tree. Due to habitat loss bats are finding it more difficult to locate suitable daytime roosting locations, so a bat house is essential for attracting them to your yard and helping a bat colony develop.