In October last year, we posted an article about bats, written by Sheryl Gibbons of the Friends of Free Wildlife Association. Sheryl tried to dispell some of the myths surrounding these gentle mammals, including what to do if you find an injured bat, and why a reputable pest control company will never agree to harm bats (as they are protected).
But have you ever considered bats as a natural form of pest control?
With the heat of summer upon us, mosquitoes are a problem for many people. We've written many a post about these buzzing menaces, including tips on getting rid of them naturally, but in light of a recent article on the Getaway site which stated that increased bat sightings are leaving Joburg residents concerned, we thought we would revisit the topic from a different angle.
What about encouraging bats into your garden by providing bat boxes?
Insectivorous bats are the primary predator of night-flying insects and can eat up to 1000 mosquito-sized insects every hour. I think you'll agree that at that rate of consumption, having bats around could make your mosquito problem disappear overnight, without the need for pesticides.
But nobody wants bats in their roof. That's why BatBnB encourages people to use bat boxes to create an alternative home for bats to raise their pups and stay safe from predators. While BatBnB is an American site, we have sites closer to home offering the same advice, and you can buy your very own bat box on Takealot! For the more DIY inclined amongst you, try your hand at building your own bat boxes. Instructions can be found here.
Bat boxes can be placed on a wall, a pole, a tree or shed in the garden, and the shape of them mimics a bat's natural habitat. For more information on what makes a good bat house, visit BatBnB. Alternately, consider planting your garden with trees and plants that form a bat-friendly landscape.
Some other batty facts about bats:
- October 24 - 31 is Bat week; an annual, international celebration of the role of bats in nature.
- Bats can eat their body weight in insects every night. That's a LOT of mosquitoes!
- Bats are the only mammals that can truly fly.
- The bumblebee bat is the world’s smallest mammal and weighs only 2 grams. It’s roughly the size of a bumblebee and lives in caves in Thailand and Myanmar. These little creatures are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list.
- Wind turbines are one of the biggest threats to the Cape house bat (found in sub-Saharan Africa)
- Northern Ghost bats (found in Central and South America) are completely white, fairly rare, and are known to sing while feeding.
- Vampire bats have inspired many a horror story. They do indeed feed on blood, but on the blood of birds and cows. Humans are not in danger!
- In China, bats are celebrated as a symbol of good luck and happiness.
- For more fascinating information about bats, visit the Bat Conservation International website.
So the next time you see a bat swooping through the night sky, think of the role they are playing in keeping your home free from insects such as mosquitoes and be glad.