Help House the Bats
by Sandy Swegel
Need a project this weekend while you’re waiting for winter to finish? How about building a bat house, or just installing one in the eaves of your house. This is an excellent weekend project and there are lots of great reasons for sharing your property with bats.
7. Bats eat mosquitos. Each bat can eat 500 mosquitos just in the first hour after dark. Think about bats eating all the mosquitos in your backyard or near your grill. That’s 500 fewer possible bites on you!
6. Bats eat bad bugs.
In addition to mosquitos, bats also eat garden pests like rootworms and cucumber beetles.
5. Bats are a lot like us. They are mammals like we are. They have long life spans and can live as long as 40 years. It’s a myth that they are dangerous dirty creatures carrying rabies. They clean themselves constantly (like cats). They don’t bite unless you try to pick them up. Raccoons, skunk and fox are much more likely to have rabies.
4. Bats need our help. Suburban development has wiped out lots of the natural wild habitat of bats. Female bats, like humans, generally only have one baby per season. They need a home to keep their only baby safe and keep the species going. Nearly 40% of American bat species are in severe decline or already listed as threatened or endangered. Spring is bat mating season, so hurry up with the new house.
3. Bats make gardener’s gold, i.e. bat guano. Bat poop is an excellent fertilizer. In the days before growing marijuana became legal and high tech, weird hippy guys would come into our garden center every Spring to pay cash for the 50-pound bags of bat guano we ordered every year just for them.
2. Bats give us tequila. Yep, bats are the pollinators for blue agave, the tequila plant! No bats, no new blue agave plants, no summer margaritas.
1. Bats are super cool to watch on summer evenings. You can see bats in the magic hour between sunset and full darkness. They fly erratically in the darkening sky, flitting and diving for insects.
Here’s one link to building your own bat house or you can buy bat-approved houses or bat house kits from Amazon or your local wildlife store.