Nocturnal aeronautical artists


Probably the most effective means of repelling mosquitoes is an old shed. An old roof is also good. A pond is great, a few old trees and a meadow with lots of native wild flowers to attract insects. Because then there is a good chance that bats will feel at home, and they love to eat mosquitoes. Well, at least common pipstrelles and Daubenton's bats do. The snacks need to be a little bigger for the common noctule, for example a butterfly or large beetles, such as the cockchafer. By contrast, the common pipistrelle is itself scarcely bigger than a cockchafer. A fully grown animal weighs as much as a sugar cube and, with its wings folded, would fit in a matchbox. Obviously, that would be cramped for it, but bats love tight spaces, for example, cracks in house walls, in caves, gables or trees. In their winter quarters, they hang in serried rows so that they don't unnecessarily waste energy, because they need that energy to wake up again after the long hibernation.  Things are also rather tight in the nursery roosts in the summer. Twenty to fifty mothers raise their young in the tiniest space. From there, the aeronautical artists set out to hunt in the evening and at night. But their strategies and hunting areas differ. The common pipistrelle likes to hunt at the edge of woodland and over water. Daubenton's bats also prefer water. Close to the water surface, they hunt flying insects, but can also use their tail membranes to scoop up insects floating on the water. The common noctule, by contrast, prefers to hunt over treetops and, at up to 60 km/h, is quite fast. What they all have in common is echolocation. They use their larynxes to transmit high-frequency sound waves that are reflected by objects in their vicinity. The bats then receive the echo via their sensitive hearing and as a result can easily identify the nature and distance of the object. The sounds in the ultrasound range are mostly inaudible to humans. In Rees, the Pappelallee (poplar avenue) and the surrounding waters, such as the Rees Sea or the pond at the Wahrmannshof, are popular hunting grounds. The Wahrmannshof therefore regularly hosts bat watching sessions where the fascinating animals can be picked out with spotlights and ultrasound detectors. Here, you can also learn how you can support these animals in need of protection. Mainly by renovating and sealing up roofs, demolishing old buildings and felling old hollow trees, we are steadily destroying suitable bat habitats. These must be replaced if bats are to remain part of our ecosystem.