Friday, July 1, 2011

Permaculture Projects: Attracting Bats

The Little Brown Bat.
The most common bat in North America.
3-4 inches long and less than 12 inch wingspan.

Attracting bats?  Oh, yeah!  I love bats.  Hopefully, after reading this post, you will at least gain an appreciation for this much maligned denizen of the night.

In the last few weeks, there has been a huge increase in mosquitos where I live.  Last year at about this time, I could watch the bats hunting at night.  This year, I haven't seen any bats.  I am hoping that this is just temporary.  I have had to treat cellulitis from infected mosquito bites about five times in the last week alone.  I have never before had this many infected bites clustered in a short time like this.  There are real consequences to not having bats in your local area, and this is just one of them.

The beautiful Hoary Bat.
A common North American bat, and the only bat in Hawaii.

Quick Bat Facts:
  • Bats are the number one predator of insects.
  • One bat can eat 2,000 - 6,000 insects... per night!  Reread that last sentence.  Wow!
  • In one summer (let's say 90 days), that is over half a million insects... for one bat!
  • Bats are the primary pollinator of the agave plant.  Tequila comes from agave.  No bats... no tequila!
  • Vampire Bats do exist... not in North America, and they are quite rare.
  • About half of all bats are endangered or threatened... primarily due to loss of habitat, pollution, and human persecution.
  • Bats rarely contract rabies... less than 40 people have gotten rabies from a bat in the last 50 years.  Worldwide, over 50,000 people die each year from rabies, and the most common vector is dogs.
  • Bats are not blind.
  • Bats are not attracted to humans, and will avoid humans at all costs.
  • Bat guano (manure) is a great fertilizer with a very high concentration of nitrogen.

Townsend's Big-Eared Bat.
Endangered in Eastern North America

I have stood in a field both in Nigeria and in Turkey with bats swooping all around me.  They were feeding on the insects flying over the fields just after dusk.  I could feel the breeze a few times as they flew close, but they never touched me.  I am talking about dozens of bats in a small field, in the dark, with no collisions with me or each other while picking insects out of midair.  They are amazing flyers!


Installing a bat house!

Attracting Bats
How do you attract bats to your property?  Build bat houses!  This will keep insect populations down in your local area and will provide you with a source for great compost.

The Organization for Bat Conservation is a great resource for information on bats.  They also have free plans for building bat houses as well - click here for a link to their PDF download page.

Here is a great interview with the Rob Mies, the co-founder and director of The Organization for Bat Conservation.  Aired on The Survival Podcast.

Not all bat houses will be used.  If you live in a cool climate, they may stay in the bat house for the spring-fall, but will hibernate somewhere else.  Where you place the bat house is determined by where you live.  Again, The Organization for Bat Conservation has a great page explaining where to place your bat house.

The Spotted Bat
An elusive and little known bat of North America.

So, I am a huge fan of bats.  They are a huge asset and, to me, an integral component of a well-designed Permaculture System.  Consider attracting bats to your property today!

4 comments:

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  3. Hi John - great site - all the information I have from many books in one digital spot. Great work. I just read the bat article and the links to the Organization for Bat Conservation is broken.

    I did a search and this is the link that I think you want:

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
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