Stars of the night

Daubenton's Bat © Dale Sutton 2020VISION

Bats are as charismatic as they are misunderstood, and summer is the best time of year to see them.

Flitting out of the rising darkness like shadows, bats are as charismatic as they are misunderstood. Britain is home to 18 species of bat, the largest being the noctule which weighs as little as four £1 coins. The smallest, the pipistrelle, weighing as little as a 2p coin, is known to gobble up more than 500 insects in an hour! Whether you are watching them flying through woodlands or skimming over a river, the sight of a bat quickens the heart.

Bats are most active in the summer months when they come out of hibernation, hunt insects, give birth and raise young, and the best time to see them is around sunset or sunrise when it is warm and dry. While some bats fly relatively high, others are found closer to the ground – not venturing far above the trees or flying low over grassland and water. 

Testwood Lakes nature reserve is a great place to enjoy bats, but you can also experience these beguiling creatures at home, whether it is in the countryside, town or city. All British bats eat insects, and by following a few easy steps to make your garden wildlife-friendly you might find that bats come to you.

Here are some simple ways you can help our stars of the night at home…

  • Aim to grow as many flowers throughout the year as possible to attract a diversity of insects. Ox-eye daisies, wild angelica, lavender and marjoram are popular choices that will attract a wide range of insects.
  • Avoid using pesticides and encourage natural predators instead. Predatory beetles, centipedes, hoverflies, ladybirds, lacewings and ground beetles are all gardener’s friends. They will happily move into compost heaps, log piles and rockeries and will show their appreciation by polishing off your garden pests.
  • As well as growing flowers, there are other ways to attract insects to your garden. You can create microhabitats, by making log or leaf piles, mulching garden beds and leaving hollow stems standing over winter for bugs to shelter in.