Every year thousands of dollars in crop damage can be caused by fruit bats. They will devour fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, the only way to keep them away is to know your enemy. Here are some tips on how to keep bats away from fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
Bats in Orchards: Threat or Bliss?
Bats are common in orchards, that’s because many fruit species, including apples, pears, peaches, and cherries are commercially grown beneath trees. Bats accept to live there due to their abundance of food, abundance by one side, and the protection of the branches by the other.
The little mammal is an integral part of most ecosystems, but, in some cases, they can also prove to be a real threat to recreational areas and people’s fruit trees. The most common bats in Australia are flying foxes, brown-headed flying foxes, and eastern horseshoe bats.
Bats have been frequently listed as a pest in fruit-producing regions. They can cause economic damage due to their feeding habits and metabolism. Some bat species also transmit diseases to humans and animals which adds a public health aspect to bat control.
How Bats can Damage Your Orchard
Some bats are beneficial to gardens, pollinating plants, and eating insects. But some species are pests because they eat fruit, spread plant diseases, or interfere with forest regeneration by killing orchard trees.
Bats can damage orchards in one of the following ways:
- By eating the fruit directly off the tree
- By damaging fruit on the ground where it is easily contaminated with droppings, manure, urine waste, and pieces of insects that they eat; and in some cases
- By piercing holes in the fruit skin to get at the juice inside.
- Bats can cause severe damage to your fruit trees if they roost in their branches
- Introducing and spreading fungal diseases
- Bats attract predators like owls, hawks and snakes
Signs of Bat Infestation
Orchard predators are nothing new for many farmers, but bats are more of a recent problem for fruit growers. Bat infestation of an orchard can seriously affect crop production, but differentiating what is normal sounds in your orchard from signs of an infestation is the first step in the process.
Bats in fruit orchards can cause severe damage to the crops and not just the fruits themselves. Some of the signs of a fruit bat infestation in orchards include:
- Bats roost under loose bark
- Bat droppings on the ground
- Constant chirping or squeaking during the day
- Droppings beneath fruit trees
- Sagging branches due to weight of bats
- Holes in tree trunks and branches
- Fat, round-bellied bats at dusk or dawn
- Bat guano on the underside of leaves
- Presence of juvenile or baby bats
- Swollen trunk
- Tree shows otherwise unexplained poor health
- Swollen base of branches
- Fruit drop while still green
If you’re noticing some of these signs in your orchard, then it’s a sign that you need to take active measures to protect your orchard from bats. Some of the ways to get your orchard protected against bats are discussed below.
Solution to Keep Bats Away
Bats love nothing more than eating fruits. But these nocturnal mammals can plunder your precious orchard if they are not kept in check. It is therefore essential that you gear up with the right kind of structure to keep bats at bay.
Get rid of the bats food source
It can be made possible to protect fruit trees from bats by pruning away the deadwood and leaving the trunk, branches, shoots, and leaves of the fruit tree. Also, it is important to see that no food source that attracts bats is left around the vicinity of the fruit tree. Bats can easily feed on insects, other animals, and even other fruits from the orchards.
Startle them with bright lights
One of the easiest ways to keep bats from eating your fruit is to take advantage of their natural aversion to bright lights. The key part of this method is to install strong lighting right above the trees, such as with a PIR (passive infra-red) movement detector, and then point it right at the center of the tree canopy. This creates an area of bright light that will scare off most bats.
Install motion-activated sprinklers
A farmer can install motion activated sprinklers to keep bats away from damaging fruits in an orchard. The system detects the presence of bats in an enclosed space and triggers sprinklers to spray water in their flight path. This prevents bats from eating fruit with seeds.
Install netting to control bats
Bird netting is a very known solution to keep bats away from damaging fruits in an orchard. Installed, it can give a great effect. Not only long-term saving of crops but also good for the next generation’s fruits on trees, bird nets work well for old trees, newly planted trees, and hedges that attract bats.
What makes a good net?
While there are many choices available in the market, the right kind and size of bird netting and its hardware can make a big difference when it comes to keeping bats away from your fruit trees. Here are some of the factors you should consider:
The best Orchard nets are made from 100% natural high strength Polyethylene material (HDPE) that is UV protected and anti-bacterial. The netting should be strong enough to withstand high wind speeds and rip-resistant for extended life of use
The space between the strands is called mesh, and it’s what you’re after when you want to keep away bats in your orchard. The best mesh size for an orchard net is a minimum of 1 inch, but the closer the strands are together, the better they’ll work. The more closely bunched up your mesh, the smaller spaces there’ll be for a bat to slip through.
The optimal color of the netting is the subject of debate. Some researchers have concluded that white netting is optimal. Other researchers have reached opposite conclusions. Eventually, you want to keep bats away with the brightest net.
How to Install the Netting for Bats
For the correct use of Bat Netting for Orchards, it is important that netting is installed properly to ensure that bats are kept out. Here are steps to Install Bat Netting in your Orchard for Bats.
- install the nets before the fruit ripens
- make sure to trim tall weeds
- Measure and cut your netting
- Install the guide wires
- Securing guide wires and netting to the tree
- Install automatic tie down lines
- Attach the netting to the tree and guide wires
- Check to see if it is working
Are your trees and fruit being severely damaged by bats? Or maybe you are seeing the damage, but not sure how to stop it. Either way, it is a big problem. EYOUAGRO netting has been established as a reputable manufacturer that only uses high-quality materials, in order to ensure that our nets are durable and effective enough for you to get the most out of your orchards.