Free Yard Bug Zapper – Bats are Your Buddies

in Birds and Wildlife,Build Green Lawn Yard,Build That Green Blog,Landscape,Native Plants

This summer our town cut out all insect control and the tiger mosquitoes had a blast pouncing on us every time we went out in the yard.

From now on though, I’ve got other bug control plans and I’m hoping you’ll join me.

Part of building and maintaining your green yard is attracting beneficial animals and insects to help you out.  Imagine each night, having a ‘team of  experts’ come for backyard dinner and once you set the stage, not having to lift a finger to eradicate your mosquito horde?

It’s like having your own private air force – Only this force is…… a colony of little bats.

Scared of bats?
No need  – they are actually your buddies.  Bats are an amazing form of organic pest control and they’re an integral part of every healthy ecosystem, which can include your yard.

A single brown bat can catch and eat 1,200 mosquito-sized insects in an hour. Most bats aren’t picky – They’ll eat anything from moths to flies to beetles, including agricultural pests such as rootworm, cutworm, earworm and leafhoppers. Most bats are insect eaters using echo-location to navigate and capture prey.

The Chinese consider bats a symbol of good luck and some Native Americans consider them powerful deities.  Of the 1,100 bat types in the world, 45 are found in the US.

Besides just devouring insects, bats deter the bugs simply by being present.  Research says that moths often listen for bat echo-location and avoid an area if they hear bat calls.

Loss of natural roosts – such as tree cavities or caves – has impacted our most common bats. Providing alternate roosts can encourage bat conservation.

Attract bats and birds and you’ll have an effective organic yard pest control program. By building suitable bat houses and mounting them in the correct place, is a great way to encourage bats to move in.

Depending where you live, you may get a variety; North Carolina is home to more than six species of bats.  Of special concern here are three federally-endangered bats – the Indiana, gray, and Virginia big-eared bat.

Research says organically managed yards, like landscaping with native plants, support higher levels of biodiversity, including potentially a diversity of bats.  That includes limited use of insecticides and herbicides whenever possible.

Some bats may visit but not necessarily live in your yard.  These bats prefer to roost in neighborhood trees, but who cares, they still eat the bugs!

Bats usually only give birth to one baby per year. Keep them around because bats have some of the longest life spans for a mammal of their size: some bats live to be over 20 years old.

After you your bats move in, carefully harvest the guano (bat droppings) with gloves and shovel. Be careful not to inhale it.  Use it as an organic fertilizer, plants love it. Its chemical content is something like 10% nitrogen, 3% phosphorus and 1% potassium.

Bats in the US are becoming endangered at an alarming rate.  A fungus called white-nose syndrome (discovered in a New York cave in 2006) can kill 90-100% of bats while hibernating.  It has since spread into Canada and as far west as Missouri.

Research through many State Wildlife offices have created Bat Monitoring Programs in an effort to locate and study bat roosts.  These may be bat boxes, old buildings, bridges, other man-made structures as well as caves and cliffs.

If asked, please report all known bat roosting locations to your state wildlife office.

Encouraging bats to hang around makes you part of a better bigger picture.  Bats hibernate or overwinter here in the south, and some even return to help organic farm growers in the Midwest in May/June.

Here are more details about Bat houses:

  • Best-designed houses are 2-3 feet tall,  1.5 – 2 ft wide, 4-5 inches deep. With 1 to 4 (three-quarter inch wide) roosting chambers. Rough lumber allows bats to cling more easily.
  • Place houses at least 10 feet above the ground, 15 to 20 feet is better. Houses on poles or on buildings are preferred over those hung on trees. Place the house so bats can fly to it freely without obstruction.
  • It’s important to mount bat houses south-facing to receive at least 6 hours of sun a day but are protected from bright lights at night. Paint it black so bat families have comfortable 80-90 degree inside temperatures.
  • Preferred locations are within a quarter of a mile from surface water and there is diverse habitat including natural vegetation.
  • Bat houses will be most successfully colonized the first year if they are installed in the fall/winter before migrating bats return in the spring. Be patient. Leave your house in place for at least two years. If it’s not occupied by then, shift it to another spot.

Need to remove a bat safely and humanely?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Michaela Brother October 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Kim,
Christofer and I just watched the clip of the Egret. Very nice, thank you for sharing. Christofer says Tec is doing well and that the bird was awesome!!!!!
Have a great evening.
The Brothers

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