Bat Box Program
Promoting Alternatives to Pesticides...
The Benefits of Bats
Yolo County is one of many regions in the Central Valley that is a haven for native bat species. Areas in and around the City of Davis offer excellent habitat for bats, in particular, the Mexican free-tailed bat. Mexican free-tailed bats are among the smaller bat species, weighing less than one tenth of a pound and having a wingspan of only twelve inches. These furry creatures range from brown to black in color, and are rarely seen except in
the evenings when they emerge to hunt insects.
Did You Know...?
Mexican free-tailed bats eat insects ranging from moths and mosquitoes to beetles and ants, and they are one of the most important controllers of agricultural insect pests. In one night alone, a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats can consume as much as 250 tons of insects!!!
What is a Bat Box?
Bat boxes are rectangular wooden shelters in which local bats will roost. Inside of each box, they will snuggle among the constructed wooden crevices, hanging upside down by their feet. During the day, the bats will remain in the box, likely sleeping. They will emerge from their box roughly 15 minutes after sundown, and fly into the night to hunt for insect meals. Mexican free-tailed bats are not easily disturbed by children or pets so long as their box is out of reach. They are neither messy nor noisy.
One of the many benefits of having neighborhood bats is a local source of natural fertilizer. Bat excrement, or guano, is organic and tremendously rich in nutrients and minerals. Mixed in low concentrations with soil or irrigation water, it can be used to enhance the growth of lawns, vegetables, landscape shrubs and flowers. Care must be taken not to over fertilize as, like all fertilizers, it may damage plants and/or pollute local waterways.
Can’t find a guano source? You can purchase guano from local nurseries and garden supply stores. By using guano carefully in your yard, you can avoid the use of more toxic, manufactured fertilizers. Such fertilizers are often applied to the surface of the soil and are thus more dangerous to children and pets. These products are also at a higher risk of moving from your yard into the stormwater system.
Did you know . . . ?
Bats are fast-flying creatures. At times, they can reach flight speeds of 40 to 60 miles per hour, traveling nearly as quickly as cars driving at freeway speed!
What’s the big deal with inorganic insecticides?
Each year, consumers from private homeowners to city businesses purchase insecticides to combat pests on their properties. These pesticides, ranging from sprays to pellets, are not only limited in their effectiveness, but also potentially toxic, particularly to children and pets. Additionally, household insecticide use may cause adverse health effects. Neighborhood bats can decrease the need for these toxic chemicals by providing a natural and safe control for insect pests.
Not only will you, your family and your pets benefit from the presence of local bats, but harmless insect species will too. Beneficial creatures that would otherwise be vulnerable to the use of industrial and household insecticides will thrive. Furthermore, nearby storm water will be safe from the runoff of pesticides that could result from industrial and household use.
What to do for a bat in need?
If you or someone you know finds a sick or injured bat, do not attempt to handle the animal. While bats are normally gentle creatures, if they are injured or feel threatened, they may be dangerous. Please call Corky Quirk at NorCal Bats Rescue and Education at (530) 902-1918.
The Bigger Picture
Whenever you fertilize your garden or use insecticides both outside and inside your home, remember where these compounds can travel. If rinsed down your kitchen sink or off of your property and into your gutter, the contaminated water will flow into the City’s wastewater or storm drainage system. This water moves through the drain piping below our streets to our rivers, creeks, wetlands, sloughs, the delta and the bay.
Stormwater fills the Davis storm water detention and wildlife ponds which are landscaped to support an array of wildlife species. Stormwater is also conveyed to the Davis Wetlands where it is used to support the wetlands system and all its wild inhabitants. Storm water pollution can be extremely harmful to the health of the plants and animals in our community.
Organic pest control and other efforts to reduce chemical pesticide and fertilizer use are important in protecting the wildlife and aquatic resources in our local community.
Help us to protect your water resources for current and future generations.
For more information about how you can prevent water pollution please call the City of Davis Public Works Stormwater Program, or for more detailed information about bats and instructions for building your own bat box, call John McNerney, Wildlife Resource Specialist. Both can be reached by calling (530) 757-5686.