When it comes to developing a robust ecosystem around your garden, one beneficial predator that is often overlooked is bats. Often because they are most active at night and go unseen, these flying mammals are great to have near your garden.
The first step to attracting bats to the garden is to have a supply of food nearby. This can include a variety of flowers, especially night-scented flowers and night flying insects like moths. For flowers, things like lemon balm, mint, borage, and honeysuckle are great attractors. If you have a lot of moths around, having bats around will mean fewer moths which would have otherwise reproduced to produce destructive caterpillars like cucumber beetles and corn earworm.
Next, you can setup a shelter for them. There are many commercial shelters you can purchase to attach to a tree, the side of your house, or onto a pole (preferred). Make sure it is big enough for the bats to move up and down within the shelter (so they can regulate their temperature based on height within the shelter) and enough clearance below the shelter for bats to drop out of the structure.
Finally, a clean fresh-water source like a pond, pool, or large bird bath will keep them happy.
By following some of these tips, you can help attract these fascinating creatures to your garden. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of them filling the night sky next time you’re out in the garden near dusk or in the evening.
Cover Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region, used under its Creative Commons license.