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Bats in the garden

There are 56 bat species in South Africa and they are either insectivorous and eat mosquitoes, moths and beetles so do leave a dead tree in the garden which will attract insects. Fruit eaters and nectar feeders help with pollination and seed dispersal. To encourage and keep bats, keep an environmentally friendly space without the use of insecticides and poisons. Put up a light to attract the insects which will then attract the bats. Make sure that you have tall trees in which they roost. The fruit bats eat big, juicy ripe fruit so plant a few fruit trees and Ficus species for them. One can also purchase or construct bat boxes to hang in the garden. Bats live to about 30 years, so it's worthwhile making sure that you provide for them. The best trees for bats are Harpephyllum caffrum, Podocarpus latifolius, Syzygium cordatum, Strelitzia nicolai, Halleria lucida, Acokanthera oppositifolia, Vachellia sieberana and Kigelia africana. They are also attracted to large white, scented flowers such a s the Baobab so try using the Gardenia family on the Highveld. We have a Kigelia africana that was planted about 15 years ago. It has finally produced fruit so the bats have finally moved in to do the pollination. Last month we planted seed from this fruit and they are germinating which is very exciting as they should be more hardy than plants grown in the warmer parts of the country.
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