Bats have a longstanding reputation for being creepy, disease-ridden, and a nuisance for homeowners. In reality, bats rarely have rabies, are extremely helpful, and are the heroes of your survival garden. They do everything from getting rid of pests to producing a natural fertilizer and detoxifier for your soil.
If you want to attract more garden bats to your property, here's what to know about the benefits they offer and how to plan.
Garden Bats Eat Pests that Attack Your Garden
If you're new to survival gardening, you may wonder why you can't just rely on birds to deal with your insects and pests. Birds are helpful, but they're diurnal, meaning they feed on insects active during the daytime.
Bats deal with night-flying insects that come out in the dark and are difficult to deal with. Bug zappers can actually attract more bugs than they get rid of, and bats consume far more insects than birds and human insect traps combined. Make your survival garden both bird and bat friendly for a powerful duo of insect fighters.
Bats prey on all kinds of insects and pests that otherwise attack you or your garden. A bat colony helps reduce mosquitoes, armyworm moths, cucumber beetles, flies, June beetles, and other critters that otherwise compromise your survival garden. Some moths will even detect a bat's echolocation and avoid the area altogether.
It’s not just about frustration; pest control gets expensive quickly. Garden bats ultimately reduce both frustrations and costs associated with pest intervention. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, $1 billion per year in crop damage and pesticide cost.
They Pollinate Your Garden
Bees may be your superstar pollinators, but bats also make a valuable contribution to flowers and plants. They're primarily attracted to fragrant, musty blooms that are nectar-rich. Because bats are nocturnal, they generally pollinate plants that bloom at night. As they fly from flower to flower or among plants, pollen sticks to their legs and bodies and spreads throughout the night.
Despite the myth, bats can see and like pale, nocturnal flowers that open at night. And if you find your hummingbird feeder seems low on nectar, it could be nighttime bats taking a sip. Consider moving your hummingbird feeder to put bats in closer proximity to your garden.
Here’s a round-up of some of the flowers and plants that bats will happily pollinate.
- French marigolds
But don't worry if you don't have bat-friendly plants flourishing in your survival garden. They'll still happily feast on mosquitoes and other insects.
Bats Produce Natural, Nutrient-Rich Fertilizers
Bat droppings, or guano, are safe to use as fertilizers and will help your vegetables, herbs, flowers, and ornamentals flourish. Guano contains rich nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The concentration of nitrogen helps your plants stay healthy and green and promote growth. Phosphorus is essential for root growth and flowering, and potassium helps strengthen the stems.
When you attract bats to your survival garden, you get high-quality fertilizer for free that is long-lasting. Chemical fertilizers are pricey and tend to leach out of the soil quickly. Bat droppings tend to last longer and enhance your soil over time.
Bat Droppings Help Detox Your Soil
Beyond nutrient-rich fertilizer, guano also contains bioremediation microbes that are known for helping purify sol and remove toxic substances. If you've been gardening with chemical fertilizers, bat droppings can help transition it back to its organic state and get a handle on soil diseases.
Detoxing your soil is a start, but guano also improves the quality and density of your soil. Over time, you'll probably notice that bat droppings help bind up loose soil while lightening heavy soil.
Bats Dispense Seeds
Survival gardening usually comes with a specific planting and growth strategy. But if you want your overall property to flourish or are considering a forest or homestead garden, bats are essential for dispensing seeds naturally.
It's easy to see why scientists refer to bats as seed dispensers and foresters. Bats ingest fruits and other food sources and later defecate just about everything but the pulp. Seed retention in a bat is often less than half an hour, and they'll defecate in flight, making for a wide reach for seed dispensing.
Bats Attract Predators
With all the praise you can give bats, it may sound counter-intuitive to talk about their role as prey for other animals. Many of the essential wildlife in the ecosystem, including owls, rely on bats as part of their diet. Why attract owls to your property if they might attack your bats? Most bats don't eat rodents, but owls can help reduce mice and similar critters in your survival garden.
Pesky predators may also skip your garden and go for the bats instead. A weasel may dig in your garden looking for a snack but prefer a carnivorous diet and will likely go for the bats to fill up, especially when they're still asleep.
Garden Bats Are Easy to Attract
Bats are easy to attract to your survival garden, making them a welcome addition to your yard for all their valuable contributions. A pond or water source near your garden attracts bugs and the bats will soon follow. Keeping some dead trees around is also helpful, as bats enjoy using their loose tree bark and hollowed areas for shelter. Night-blooming flowers like sunflower, yucca, and evening primrose are also bat-favorite treats.
One of the best ways to attract scores of bats to your yard is with a bat house or bat box. They're specially designed with bats in mind and give them a safe place to call home. Once they’ve arrived, make sure you leave them alone as they hibernate in winter. Disturbing them too often could cause them to use up their fat stores and starve before spring when your garden needs them the most.
What to Look for in a Bat Box or Bat House
You can make your own bat house with some wood and weather-repellent material, or you can purchase one that's durable and ready to go. Our bat houses are affordable, constructed from natural cedar wood, and coated with water-repellent material. A streamlined design allows proper airflow through the bat house and comes with two or three chamber sizes, depending on how many bats you want to attract.
Depending on which region you live in, a bat house is ideal during spring and summer. You may still end up attracting garden bats during winter, but you're less likely to see the same volume as during warmer months.
You'll know if your bat box is in high demand by doing a little sleuthing. Monitor the nearby area for bat droppings and watch for activity at night. Bats tend to return to their same nest year after year, so make sure to replace your bat house if you see wear and tear. Or add another one to your property to increase your bat colony.
Bats are your new best friends if you want to increase the health and longevity of your survival garden. Attract them with an affordable and effective bat house and stock up on your favorite survival seeds to watch your garden flourish. Start by browsing our selection of bat houses here.