Bats – A Gardener’s Friend AND Family Friend

I was introduced to bats, up close and personal, last year at a cookout.  Paul, the homeowner and bat enthusiast, showed us his two bat houses at the perimeter of his suburban yard.  When I aimed the flashlight directly above into one of the bat houses, I could see a large family of bats.  There were probably 30 or so bats hanging upside-down looking all cute…well, as cute as bats can look.

Photo courtesy of Paul Franklin.

At dusk, Paul had us watching the sky in the general vicinity of the bat houses.  One by one the bats dove out of their house and up in the air for their nightly feeding.  Paul and his wife commented how mosquito bites are a thing of the past for them, thanks to the bats’ diet.

When my husband and I left the party I had an armful of bat-related items for my own place:

  1. A bat magazine,
  2. A bat house (Paul makes them), and
  3. A Tupperware container of guano (bat droppings)… read on to see why.

[I told his wife I’d be sure to get the Tupperware back to her.]

He gave me the guano to apply to the base of the bat house so bats would smell it and know the bat house is a safe place to nest.

We’ll be hanging the bat house this spring and patiently awaiting the gradual arrival of our new “neighbors”.   Since we occasionally see bats flying around our house, I’m hoping that will help expedite the move-in process.

In case you’re wondering why in the world I’d want bats “hanging” around my house, here are some good reasons, and reasons why you might want to do the same:

  1. MOSQUITOS – Do you need MORE reasons than that?!
    According to Bat Conservation International in their Intro to Bats, “A single little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour, while a pregnant or lactating female bat typically eats the equivalent of her entire body weight in insects each night.”  Okay…the “mosquito-sized” insects are not ALL mosquitos, but they are part of that 1,000 insect nightly diet.  Now that’s my kind of insect zapper.
  2. The bats provide you with FREE plant fertilizer – all in a neat, compact pile directly below the bat house.
  3. The bats are a lot of fun to watch and, if you have kids (especially boys), watching them fly out of their house provides a great evening activity for the whole family.
  4. They’re a wonderful non-conventional “pet” that provides their own food – no need for budgeting pet food in the family grocery budget!
  5. It’s another way to feel surrounded by nature (not that I shouldn’t ALREADY feel that way living in the woods).
  6. Some bats are excellent pollinators.

So… do I now have you thinking about attracting bats to your back yard?

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

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5 comments to Bats – A Gardener’s Friend AND Family Friend

  • Linda

    I’ve been wanting Pete to make a bat house! Can you show a photo of yours???

  • Heather

    I never thought of bats as something I’d want to attract, but the mosquito diet alone makes it worth it. I’ll check with my husband and make sure he agrees. My kids would love to help build it. If I can get my daughter past some fears, she will probably be excited…our own scooby doo scene in the back yard.
    Are there any disease dangers with bats around pets, kids, or gardens?

    • Holly

      I don’t know what all diseases bats may carry or specific risks to having them around the home, but on the subject of bats and rabies, I found a post out on Associated Content from Yahoo by Matthew Howard on bats that you may find very informative. Howard mentions, “While it is true they can carry rabies there are currently more dogs in the US that carry rabies compared to bats…”. He, like the man who built my bat house, gives a great testimony on their effectiveness as mosquito eaters.

    • Holly

      I thought of something else that might help in your decision as to whether or not to attract bats to your yard.

      We usually think of birds (robbins, blue jays, cardinals, turtle doves, crows, etc.) as filthy creatures and possible carriers of diseases. These same birds are the beautiful creatures we also go to great links to encourage their presence in our back yards. We purchase all kinds of bird feeders, bird food, and try to keep squirrels out of these feeders to make sure the birds will continue to feast in our yard.

      While I’m not saying it’s impossible to catch a disease from bats, I think there’s a few reasons we don’t get too concerned about getting a disease from birds: 1) we’re use to them, 2) they’re beautiful, and 3) we don’t physically interact with the birds – we don’t pet them. We simply enjoy watching them.

      Just some food for thought – I hope that helps. :)

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