Most of us aren’t aware of bats as they don’t start to fly until it becomes dark. But what can you do for bats in the garden to make it a safe and inviting place for them?
There are 18 species of bats in the UK, some of the most common are the common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, and brown long-eared bat.
They are great to have in the garden as they feed on insects such as caterpillar. But sadly, like hedgehogs, they have seriously declined over the last 50 years. This is largely down to a loss of woodland, ancient trees, and old buildings.
They rely on hedges and woods as navigation points, and therefore become confused when these natural landscapes are destroyed for building developments or other uses.
But the good news is, it’s easy to do a few simple things to help them out in our gardens.
How to help out bats in the garden:
Hedges are good for bats. Not just because they provide feeding areas for them, but also because they act as navigation markers for bats to help them find their way between places where they roost and feed.
Ponds are also great for encouraging insects and boosting biodiversity. Bats will appreciate the increased number of insects in the garden. Even a small pond will lend a helping hand.
Having a compost heap is also good as this will generate the type of insects that bats like to eat.
Growing plants with white flowers helps too as light-coloured flowers attract moths, another food source for bats. Likewise, evening scented flowers like honeysuckle will also attract moths for bats to prey on.
Bats like to shelter in dark places during the day. Therefore, hollow tree trunks, split branches and loose bark are ideal places for them to hide. Bat boxes also help, especially if placed in a sunny, south or west facing part of the garden, on tree trunks or building walls, but avoid putting them anywhere where they’re likely to be disturbed by people or pets.
If making a bat box yourself be sure to use wood that hasn’t been treated with wood preservatives and is rough sawn.
Finally, do bear in mind that all bats in Britain are legally protected and this includes places where they roost or hibernate. Advice about this can be obtained from the Bat Conservation Trust.
Though you may not spot them often, bats are an important creature in UK wildlife. Encouraging bats into the garden with plants and structures to welcome them, you’ll be helping to increase the numbers of these fascinating creatures.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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