Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Batty Bats

According to Bat Conservation International (BCI)

  • A single insectivorous bat can eat hundreds of insects an hour, including mosquitoes and agricultural pests, reducing our dependence on pesticides.
  • Frugivorous bats in the tropics are vital in seed dispersal and nectivorous bats pollinate plants when they feed on nectar.
  • Although 70 percent of bats eat insects, many tropical species feed exclusively on fruit or nectar.

Despite their notoriety, vampire bats make up only a small portion of all bats (there are only three species), and they live only in Latin America. With the exception of three species of nectar-feeding bats that live along the Mexican border of Arizona and Texas, all bats in the United States and Canada are insectivorous.

  • Fruit bats bring us over 450 commercial products, including 80 medicines. 
  • The seed dispersal and pollination activities of fruit and nectar eating bats are vital to the survival of rain forests. 
  • Seeds dropped by tropical bats account for up to 95% of forest re-growth on cleared land. 
Night blooming plants and trees depend on nectar eating bats for pollination.

Bats are such unique mammals that they have been placed in a group of their own, the Chiroptera, which means hand-wing. Bats are of the grand order, Archonta, grouped together with monkeys and flying lemurs. All living bat species fit into one of two major groups, the Microchiroptera or the Megachiroptera.

Linnaeus was so impressed by the similarities between bats and primates (lemurs, monkeys, apes, and humans) that he originally put them into the same taxonomic group.

Most agree that bats are far more closely related to primates than to the rodents with which they often are linked in the public mind.

  • Only three out of more than 1,100 species of bats worldwide feed on blood, and they are all in Latin America. 
  • As for spreading rabies, BCI states that fewer than half of one percent of bats contract rabies, and rabid bats usually are not aggressive.
Bats are among the cleanest of animals and are also exceptionally resistant to disease.

Guano is the collective term used for bat or bird droppings or feces. For many years, people all over the world have been using guano to fertilize their crops.

Canadian Bat Houses, Inc. manufactures the only 
BCI Bat Certified bat house in Canada.

Our garden will be brimming with a wide range of plants to attract insects of all kinds, encouraging diversity from spring to autumn. There are enough old growth, trees, flowering and fruiting plants nearby. I'd like to add a few more native plants, which support far more species of insect than hybrids, both front and back. Compositae (Daises), mallow, forget-me-not's(front), yarrow in pots(back), along with Bergamot, Rosemary, Thyme ~ and revive Rohan's lovely Lavendar. Of course, different plants attract different types of insects, florets for those with short tongues, and for those with long tongues, honeysuckle. Also, pale flowers that attract insects at dusk, moon garden flowers, and annual fragrant tobacco and night jasmine.

Plants for Bats
Aubretia (spring to early summer)
Corn marigold
English Bluebell (spring)
Evening primrose (summer to autumn)
Ice plant ‘Pink lady’ (early autumn)
Knapweed (summer to autumn)
Mallow (summer to autumn)
Mexican aster (summer to autumn)
Michaelmas daisy (summer to autumn)
Night-scented stock (summer)
Ox-eye daisy (summer)
Phacelia (summer to autumn)
Primrose (spring)
Red campion (spring)
Scabious (summer)
St John’s wort (spring)
Sweet William (summer)
Tobacco plant
Verbena (summer to autumn)
Woodland forget-me-not (spring)
Yarrow (early summer)
Bergamot (summer to early autumn)
Borage (spring to early autumn)
Coriander (summer)
English marigolds
Fennel (summer to early autumn)
Feverfew (summer to autumn)
Hyssop (summer to early autumn)
Lemon balm
Marjoram (summer)
Rosemary (spring)
Sweet Cicely (spring to early summer)
Thyme (summer)
Bramble (climber)
Buddleia (shrub)
Dog rose (climber)
Elder (small)
Gorse (shrub)
Hawthorn (suitable for coppicing)
Hazel (suitable for coppicing)
Honeysuckle (native honeysuckle)
Jasmine (night-scented)
Pussy willow
Silver birch
Creeping Jenny (spring to summer)
Flag iris
Lady’s smock (spring to summer)
Marsh mallow
Marsh marigold (spring)
Marsh woundwort
Meadowsweet (summer to early autumn)

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