The humble bat is one of the farmer's best friends
Published 27/08/2014 | 02:30
On summer evenings just after sunset, when the swallows and house martins are heading for their nests, hundreds of bats emerge and take over the task of patrolling around my home, helping to keep the flies and midges under control.
They are brilliant at their job. Our most common bat species, the tiny pipistrelle, can consume over 3,000 midges and mosquitoes in one night. They provide the perfect form of natural pest control.
Last summer I was delighted to find that they had moved in to the attic in my house, entering and exiting through a tiny crack in the timber at the apex of the roof.
They also inhabit some of the farm buildings, as well as using cracks in the gnarled bark of the old trees which provide a safe roosting habitat.
To further encourage them I have put up bat boxes to provide extra living space and make the house and yard as attractive as possible for them.
In dwelling houses bats prefer to occupy confined spaces such as behind hanging tiles and soffit boards or between roofing felt and roof tiles rather than the main attic space.
Do try to avoid chemical treatment of timber frames in attics as this can poison an entire colony and make the area unsuitable for bats for up to 20 years.
If we encourage friendly predators such as bats and owls around our homes, we will help them cope with the increasing threats that modern farming practices pose. By doing so we have fewer biting insects and rats to annoy us.,