Pipistrelles are the most common and widespread bats in Britain, but like other species they’re coming under pressure as land is developed and the wooded areas, ponds and open green spaces they rely on for hunting shrink. It’s unclear how their numbers are holding up. We know from scientific evidence and the absence of bugs on our car windscreens that there have been very significant declines in flying insects, their food source. Another potential threat is the loss of roosting sites due to modern construction and insulation methods reducing the gaps and crevices where bats can shelter. The Wanstead area is blessed with several lakes surrounded by woodland – ideal places for pipistrelles to hunt at night. Hollow Pond and Perch Pond are both very good, but there is evidence that numbers have declined in the last few years.
HOW TO HELP
More trees! They’re really important for common pipistrelles. Trees provide cover as bats emerge from their roosts and they often follow treelines to help navigate when out hunting. Plant new trees at the back of your garden and nurture any mature trees you’ve got – they have nooks and crannies where bats can roost.
Make your garden an oasis for flying insects – that means one thing, lots of foliage. Large areas of paving for drives and patios are disastrous for city insects and wildlife more generally – dig some of it up or cover it with planters to re-green your plot. Add food plants for moths such as nicotiana, honeysuckle, hawthorn, ivy and sweet rocket. Other great habitats for insects are long-grass areas, mini wildflower meadows, leaf and log piles and bug hotels.
Never use pesticides or weedkillers in your garden. Instead, aim to attract lots of different wildlife to keep things in balance, using biological pest control if necessary. Lobby the council to stop spraying pesticides around our streets.
Reduce light pollution by ditching unnecessary night lights in your garden - it disorientates bats and is thought to be contributing to the dramatic decline in insects.
Put up bat boxes.