Bats, yes, the mammal
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Taken from the BCT leaflet, Garden for Bats
Although we cannot guarantee to encourage bats to a garden, careful planning will increase its value to wildlife. A variety of animal visitors will be attracted, from insects to birds, and hopefully bats will be among them.
All British bats feed on insects; they need a continuous supply of food during the summer and a wide choice of places to roost, or shelter, throughout the year.
Before planning any changes, look beyond your garden at what bats already have access to nearby. Try to enhance what is available, for bats live and feed over a wide area.
Larvae and adults of many insects will be catered for by introducing a wide range of food, in the form of nectar, seeds and fruit as well as vegetation.
Grow night scented flowers. These attract moths and other night flying insects of particular importance to bats.
Plant herbs and old fashioned cottage-garden annuals attractive to insects.
Leave part of your lawn unmown from about mid May to encourage insect larvae which feed on grass. Allow to seed before cutting, and rake up the hay afterwards.
Sow wild flower seed collections in your borders.
At woodland edges space and sunshine combine with the trees to give shelter and warmth, and insects will concentrate there. So even in the smallest garden try to have at least one tree or shrub. Native trees are more attractive to insects than foreign species.
If space is limited, silver birch and goat willow are quick growing and are host to many insect visitors. With a little more space, try to make a bank of vegetation to give your garden a woodland edge structure.
Rows of bushes or trees can be created or improved, encouraging concentrations of insects and providing a feeding area for bats,
Plant up gaps in natural hedges,
A row of fast-growing cypress can be valuable.
Train climbers using battens against a wall or fence, to provide possible roosting sites.
Create a sheltered corner by using any combination of walls, fences, hedges or woodland edge at two angles.
Chives, Borage, Lemon balm, Marjoram, Mint - many varieties Night scented flowers for the border (in approximate order of flowering)
|Nottingham catchfly||Silene nutans|
|Night-scented catchfly||S. noctiflora|
|Bladder campion||S, vulgaris|
|Night-scented stock||Matthiola bicornis|
|Sweet rocket||Hesperis natronalis|
|Evening primrose||Oenothera biennis|
|Tobacco plant||Nicotiana affinis|
|Cherry pie||Heliotropun x hybndurr|
|European honeysuckle||Lonicera caprifolium||July-November|
|Italian honeysuckle||L. etrusca superba||July-August|
|Japanese honeysuckle||L. japonica halliana||August-October|
|Honeysuckle (native)||L. periclymenum...||July-August|
|White jasmine||Jasminium otiicinale|
|Bramble - many species||Large trees, small trees and shrubs|
|Oak||Quercus robur & Q. petrea|
|Silver birch||Betula pendula|
|Field maple||Acer campestre|
|Goat willow||Salix caprea|
|Guelder rose||Viburnum opulus|
|Buddleia davidii||Rock plants for walls|
|Ivy-leaved toadflax||Cymbana muralis|
|Wall pennywort||Umbilicus rupestris|
|Stonecrop||Sedum acre bertianum|
Many insects start life in freshwater, emerging only as adults.
As one Pipistrelle may eat up to 3000 such insects in a night, a pond is an important part of any garden designed to attract bats.
If concerned for the safety of small children, make a pond in the normal way then fill it in to form a marsh. An old leaking concrete pond can also be converted to a marsh.
Construction details are available in many wildlife gardening books.
Insects are attracted to bright lights. Fix a light in your garden and regularly leave it on at dusk to encourage bats to visit it when foraging. Mercury vapour lights are particularly attractive to insects.
A pile of logs left undisturbed in the shrubbery or a corner of the garden to rot, will become home to a host of insects and other organisms.
Build a rockery on the principle of drystone walling. A double sided wall, filled with stones and incorporating very little soil, can become an attractive feature as mosses and lichens colonise. The spaces will be available as roost sites for bats, as well as home for some of the invertebrates on which they prey. Alternatively, an earth bank faced with drystone walling may be more suited to your garden. Leave cavities in the centre as well as plenty of small holes in the facing.
As artificial tree holes, bat boxes offer an additional option for bats searching for a roost site. Entrance is usually by way of a narrow slot underneath.
Use of Chemicals
Avoid using chemicals. Certain insecticides may not only cancel out much that you are doing to encourage bats, but also harm the bats themselves.
The Bat Conservation Trust is Britain's only organisation devoted solely to the conservation of bats, their roosts and feeding habitats. Please join us and help save our bats. Clcik on the previous link for details of membership and this one for your local bat group
For more detailed information on attracting bats to your homes and gardens send for the following from the BCT:
(prices include p&p)
Bats in the Garden - S. Thompson.
Bat Boxes - Stebbings & Walsh.
Bats in Houses - A,M. Hutson.
A Bats In the Garden seed pack, containing a selection of the flowers, mentioned here, has been produced by John Chambers, specialist seedsman, Available from BCT.
Acknowledgement. This leaflet includes text and illustrations from "Bats in the Garden"
by Shirley Thompson, pub. School Garden Company, 1989, 34pp.