August 24 is International Bat Night, a celebration of bats organized by the Bat Conservation Trust. Although bats are often seen as dangerous foes – especially given their depiction in movies as blood-sucking or rabies-infested beasts prone to becoming entangled in one’s hair – actually they are very beneficial to our community.
The Helpful Side of Bats
One benefit of bats is that they control pest populations. Insects are a staple in many bats’ diets. At night, they patrol the skies, making meals of mosquitoes, bothersome beetles and other insects. In many environments, fruit and nectar-feeding bats also play a vital role in pollination. The US Forest Service states that over 300 species of fruit, including mangoes, bananas and guavas, depend on bats for pollination. Even their excrement is useful! Guano, collected from cave-dwelling bats, is considered a top-notch fertilizer by many farmers.
Encouraging Bats In Your Backyard
Like all animals, bats need food, water and shelter. To attract bats to your backyard, consider supplying these resources in the form of:
- A water feature that will not only supply water but also attract insects
- Flowers that smell sweet, even at night, to attract insects
- Light-colored flowered that are easily spotted by insects in the dark
- A bat box to provide a place for bats to roost
Once your new neighbors take up residence in your yard, watch them fill the skies at dusk and enjoy the many benefits of bats!
Related Link: Adopt a Bat! Bat Conservation International’s Adopt-A-Bat program helps preserve and protect bats.