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Bats are fascinating creatures. They are our only mammals capable of true flight and they also use echo location to navigate. Bats are an ‘indicator species’, and this means by monitoring their populations, we can better understand the wider health of the environment.
You can attract bats to your garden by providing them with good roosting sites, which is becoming more important as their natural sites are fast disappearing. Bats will look for somewhere quiet, draught free and clean. The access needs be no more than a tiny slit or hole. Sheltered positons are more to their liking but they will need a clear flight path. South facing is probably the best direction, though three boxes can be sited on one tree, facing different directions - north, south-east and south-west, and place them as high as possible, at least 5 meters (15 feet) from the ground.
Flying uses a lot of energy, and bats have huge appetites. For example a tiny common pipistrelle can eat around 3,000 midges, mosquitoes and other small flies in a single night! Ensuring there is a plentiful supply of night-flying insects in your garden by growing night-scented plants, or by building a pond are also good ways to attract bats to your garden.
The main burst of insect activity at night is around two hours after sunset and just before dawn; which is why you are most likely to see bats shortly after sunset. Having a garden light turned on at dusk will also attract insects, and then the bats.