Bats for your garden

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 - 12:02pm

Little brown bat

Did you know that a little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) can eat 1,000 insects an hour? Little brown bats are insectivores, eating moths, wasps, beetles, gnats, mosquitoes, midges and mayflies, among others. The little brown bat and the big brown bat live in the northern two-thirds of the United States. In the south, Mexican free-tailed and evening bats are the most common.

Mexican free-tailed bat

A colony of 150 big brown bats can catch enough cucumber beetles each summer to prevent the egg laying of 33 million rootworms.  Bats catch and eat cucumber and June beetles, stinkbugs, leafhoppers, cutworm and corn earworm moths.  Many garden and crop pests flee areas where they hear bat echolocation sounds.  According to Bat Conservation International, the 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats that spend summers in Bracken Cave, Texas, eat up to 200 tons of insects in a single night over the surrounding towns and croplands. (Going Bats, Homestead.org)

The bats' diet makes these species beneficial to agriculture as they eat many species of crop pests.

Evening bat

So you might want to consider luring little brown bats, evening bats or Mexican free-tailed bats to your property by building a bat house (plans here). It will help if you have a pond nearby (no further that 1/4 mile away) since many of their preferred meals are insects with an aquatic life stage, such as mosquitoes.

A bat house needs to be warm, so you should place it where it's sunny. A tree is not a good location. The best place to mount it is on the south side of your house or barn, about 15-18' from the ground, so bats can easily fly in and out, and predators can't get near them.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

robshepler's picture
robshepler
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 16 2010
Posts: 108
Zika virus

We share our old ranch house with some Mexican Free tail bats and rarely see a mosquito. It would be a GREAT time to build some bat houses with the Zika virus in bound.

A side benefit of having bats is the good amount of phosphorus they leave for us every year, the gardens love it.

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