The Q&A Archives: Attracting Bats

Question: We would like to attract bats to our small acreage and heard that, in addition to setting up bat houses, we can plant certain plants to attract them. Can you recommend some?

Answer: Bats are among a gardener's best friends. All bats feed on insects such as moths, mosquitoes, cucumber and June beetles, leafhoppers and even scorpions. In fact, bats are the only major predators of these night-flying insects as well as many agricultural pests. It's a Bat Fact that a bat the size of your thumb can eat up to 600 mosquitoes an hour -- that's 3,000 insects in one night.

Insects are bat food, so create a garden for insects with native plants, night-scented flowers, herbs, and flowering vines. An outdoor light is also a good insect lure. Remember to choose plants that bloom throughout the season (April through October), and choose plants that bloom at a variety of levels; e.g., grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, vines and trees. Good choices for a bat garden include salvia, silene, phlox, stock (including evening stock), cornflower, and spearmint. Flowers that bloom into the evening include four o'clocks, moonflower, and nicotiana.

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