How to Save Bats in Your Own Backyard
Bats are mammals, shy creatures of the night, and fascinating to watch. They’re also endangered by loss of habitat, disease, and pesticide poisoning. You can help by providing protection.
1. Build a Home
Bats like warm, dry, tight spaces. A bat house provides them with an alternative to your attic, and reduces the chance of human/bat contact. Advice on what to look for in a ready-made bat house, along with plans for building one yourself, are available from Bat Conservation International at batcon.org.
That’s where you’ll also find a state-by-state guide to the needs of different bat species. For example, the hollows of dead trees provide a roosting site for bats in many areas, but the Western Yellow Bat roosts in living palm trees. So bat lovers in Southern California leave palms untrimmed, particularly during nesting season, when bat babies may be clinging to the fronds.
2. Watch Your Water
Bats need drinking water and are attracted by ponds and birdbaths. They may miscalculate a swooping approach and become stranded in steep-sided swimming pools. Provide an escape route by making or buying a small floating ramp like the “Frog Log”: froglog.us
3. Plant a Night Garden
Bats are the primary predator of agricultural pests—one bat eats 2,000 to 6,000 insects each night. Plant afternoon-blooming or night-scented flowers to attract moths, and the voracious bats that follow will help control your local mosquito population. Evening primrose, phlox, night-flowering catchfly, fleabane, goldenrod, four o’clock, salvia, nicotiana, and moonflower are all good choices.
4. Adopt a Bat
This is the year of the bat, according to a United Nations declaration that recognizes their importance to the world’s ecosystems. You can support research, conservation, and protective legislation by adopting a bat through Bat Conservation International. Someone you know might love the (symbolic) gift of a bat.
Shannan Lenke Stoll is a former environmental justice and Native leadership editor at YES!