Welcome to the wonderful world of bats by Andreia Correia da Costa, Bat Conservation Trust ----- It was not until I started working in bat conservation and learning more about bats that I truly discovered their wonderful world. I have now ended up absolutely in awe of them! When people ask me ‘Why bats?’ the answer is easy but potentially VERY lengthy. I could go on and on about them, I often do, but this time, I will keep it short and sweet. Not only are bats super interesting (over 1300 species means there are plenty to choose from) but they are also massively important for the environment. In the UK, all 18 species of bats exclusively feed on insects and other invertebrates, including the occasional spider. They are impressive natural pest controllers with individual bats eating thousands of insects every night. This important service can reduce the use of harmful pesticides and provides us the opportunity to watch an incredible display of nocturnal aeronautical acrobatics. The bad news Bat numbers in the UK have declined dramatically over the last century. While some species have started to show signs of recovery in recent years, they are nowhere near their historical peak. The pressures bats face includes; loss of roosting, foraging and commuting habitat through development, agricultural intensification, landscape change and habitat fragmentation. Image credit: Hugh Clark/ Bat Conservation Trust It's not all doom and gloom 1. Garden for bats You can help save bat populations by transforming your garden into a haven for bats. Gardening for bats will ensure there is a constant source of food for them while making/putting up a bat box will provide a roosting opportunity. 2. Get outside and experience bats Image credit: Philip Briggs/Bat Conservation Trust If you want to get out and about and experience bats there are plenty of ways to do it. Going on a bat walk is a great chance to hear and see bats. Bat walks are often organised by local bat groups and are fun activities for both grown-ups and children. During this walk, you will use a resourceful little gadget (bat detector) that allows us to hear bats echolocation calls. Different species have their unique echolocation so in most cases you will be able to identify which bat species you just heard or saw flying by. Local bat groups often have many volunteering opportunities so that is another way to get some hands on experience if that is what you are after. 3. Become a citizen scientist The National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) allows us to see how bat populations are faring in the UK and we are always looking for keen volunteers to join this citizen science project. There are different types of surveys for every level of experience, even complete beginners! There is no better way to get to know about the wonderful world bats than to get involved! These are only a few of the many options for you to be a part of it. Whichever path you choose it is sure to take you through amazing new discoveries. Find out more about the Bat Conservation Trust, and tell us your favourite bat fact on Twitter or Facebook These images have been issued for use in this blog only, and cannot be reproduced elsewhere without the prior permission of the Bat Conservation Trust.