Bats and Moths at the farm

‘Bats and Moths’

An event for National Moth Night.
Saturday 15 May, 8pm start
Sheepdrove Organic Farm, Sheepdrove Road, Lambourn, Berkshire.
Directions at
www.sheepdrove.com

Come and discover moths and bats at the herb gardens and reedbeds of Sheepdrove Organic Farm, on National Moth Night, 15 May 2010.

Jason BallJason Ball, the farm’s ecologist, will lead the event. “You are bound to discover something you never knew,” he explains, “Gradually we are learning which species live at the farm, and we could find more on the night.”

“These marvellously mysterious plant munchers and the fantastic flying bug crunchers are some of the wildlife least understood by people, and yet bats and moths are very important animals indeed. Moths pollinate fruits and wildflowers, and a single pipistrelle bat will eat thousands of midges each night – excellent pest controllers.”

Sheepdrove is known for its nature-friendly farming methods and runs a Farm Wildlife Volunteers group. Seven species of bat have been recorded so far, including the largest type – Noctule  – which loves to eat moths!

The event begins at 8pm with an introduction to bats and moths, and as the sun sets the bat detectors should start picking up the clicks, buzzes and pops of the farm’s bats!

Jason says, “We will survey for bats around the courtyard and garden followed by a short Bat Walk around the woodland and water habitats…as we wait for the moths to arrive at the lamp.”

Please bring a torch, warm clothes, sensible footwear and be ready for changes in the weather. Sunglasses are very useful near the ultra-bright moth lamp!

SEE YOU THERE?

Admission is free but you must book a place. Please contact Jason Ball on 01488 674727. All welcome, children must be supervised at all times. Sorry, no dogs permitted.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

From the NMN website…

Bats and moths share a close, though perhaps rather one-sided relationship. As predator and prey they have evolved closely. Bats are able to navigate using a sophisticated sonar system called echolocation. Sound waves are emitted by bats and detected as they bounce back from objects or potential prey, creating a detailed ‘picture’ of the bat’s environment, which is essential in navigation and hunting for prey.

Though bats are top predators some moths have developed simple hearing organs that can pick up on echolocation, allowing evasive action to be taken, whilst the tiger moths are able to emit loud clicks similar to echolocation calls, which are thought to confuse bats.

All of the 17 species of bat resident in Britain are known to feed on moths, but the two British species of long-eared bat Plecotus spp., the two horseshoe bats Rhinolophus spp., Barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus and Bechstein’s Bat Myotis bechsteinii are particularly partial to moths, which form a significant part of their diet.

Bats and moths are under pressure from similar changes in our countryside, and the declining numbers of insects is inevitably going to impact upon the bats which feed upon them, so it is in the interests of bat workers and moth recorders to work together in highlighting the problems faced by both.

Some facts about bats:

  • Bats are the only mammals in the world capable of powered flight.
  • There are 17 species of bat resident in the UK.
  • Britain’s commonest bat (the pipistrelle) weighs less than a £1 coin.
  • In winter, when there are few insects around, bats hibernate in the cool parts of buildings, caves or hollow trees.
  • Bats are not blind and can see perfectly well by daylight, as we do.
  • The Brown long-eared bat has exceptionally sensitive ears and can hear a beetle walking on a leaf.

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