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Going Batty

Jim Boxberger - Correspondent
Posted 6/5/20

Bats, they conjour up images of creepy blood suckers that live in caves or vampires like Dracula that may be lurking around the corner, ready to pounce and suck your blood. But bats have gotten a bad …

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Going Batty

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Bats, they conjour up images of creepy blood suckers that live in caves or vampires like Dracula that may be lurking around the corner, ready to pounce and suck your blood. But bats have gotten a bad rap, bats are really quite beneficial.

The bats in our area could be considered nocturnal hummingbirds as they eat both insects and nectar. These bat species eat an incredible number of night-flying insects including mosquitoes. By some accounts, they can eat as many as 1,200 insects in an hour of feeding.

Even if we reduce that number to 1,000 insects per night, that means a colony of just ten bats will clear the air around your house by 10,000 insects per night. These nocturnal creatures become active when the sun goes down, and work magic in your garden while you sleep. They go after the nectar and bugs, spreading pollen as they swoop and dive.

But how do you attract bats to your place? Since houses are being built better than ever before, many of the nooks and crannies that bats would normally slip into have disappeared. So that means you need to buy or make a house for your bats. Bat colonies are most often found near sources of water like ponds, lakes and slow-flowing streams.

These are areas that will have large numbers of mosquitoes, one of the bats favorite foods. The closer the bat house is to your area's largest water source, the better your chances of attracting bats to the bat house. Growing night-scented flowers that attract night-flying insects like moths will also help.

Place your bat house at least 15 feet above the ground on a pole, tree or outbuilding exterior. Mounting it on your home is not wise because bats support various mites, fleas, and insects (and very rarely, rabies) that you want to keep away from your house.

Moreover, bats are messy. I am sure you have heard of “bat guano”, which for a lack of a better term is bat poop. However, this poop is a great fertilizer.

Bat guano is a suitable fertilizer for plants and lawns, making them healthy and green with adequate supply of nitrogen. It can be used as a natural fungicide as well. In addition, bat guano makes an acceptable compost activator, speeding up the decomposition process.

So as you can see, there are many benefits to having bats around your house. So maybe next time you see some bats flying around at night you might think different about them.

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