Batty for bats in our gardens
At BBC Gardeners' World Live this year we were joined by the Bat Conservation Trust for their seventh consecutive year at the Show!
Their 'Moonlight Garden’, designed to give inspiration and tips for encouraging bats into our gardens, was awarded the prestigious 'Best Indoor Feature' Award. So we thought we'd delve into this subject a little more, with tips and advice you can continue to use at home....
All 18 UK bat species are nocturnal. Even thought you might not see them all that often, they need our help and there are many ways to encourage them, for example by growing flowers that attract insects on which UK bat species feed.
Top tips from the Bats Conservation Trust team:
- Grow pale flowers, as well as scented flowers, to attract insects and therefore bats.
- Pesticide-free gardens tend to be better for wildlife and bats.
- Use lighting sensitively and do not point it at a bat box or roost.
- A pond or marshy area will support the aquatic larvae of insects such as small flies, which are a favourite of pipistrelle bats.
Flowers that bloom throughout the year, including both annuals and herbaceous perennials, are a good idea, and night flowering blossoms attract night-flying insects. Trees and shrubs provide food for insects and roosting opportunities for bats.
There are many plants you can use to encourage these nocturnal visitors - download the full Bat Conservation Trust list here or this is a quick selection of some of our favourites:
- Sweet William
- Evening Primrose
- Sea Holly
- Michaelmas Daisy
- Dog Rose
If you visited the Show, you may have spoken to the BCT team about building a bat box. Bat boxes are artificial roosts to provide bats with alternative resting places or to encourage bats into areas where there are few existing suitable roost sites.
This means that once you've encouraged them into your garden with all the wonderful insect-rich planting, they've got somewhere to put down their own roots!
Read all about bat boxes in this handy BCT Bat Box Information Pack, with instructions for making your own Kent Bat Box too.
Bats needs our help, so now we hope you've got a head full of ideas for how to encourage these delightful creatures into your garden. Just make sure you take time to sit back as dusk falls to enjoy them as they dart back and forth across the sky!
- (c) Hugh Clark/www.bats.org.uk