Last year, on the advice of an organic farmer, I put up a bat house, and bought two egg sacks of preying mantises. Combined with my monthly delivery of Fly Predators, plus small plastic bags half filled with water and a few pennies at the bottom of the bag (the Amish fly control system), apple cider vinegar, and some fly strips (icky though they are), I managed to use less than 2 bottles of fly spray for the entire summer. Bats are capable of eating more than 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour, and they also feed on moths, and leafhoppers.
I mounted the bat house on a 15 foot pole, facing south, because the bats need at least 6 hours of sun to stay warm. I placed the bat house in a section of pasture close to a creek, but away from the woods. A bat house needs to be fairly close to a water source, and as much as I appreciate what bats do, I didn’t want them living too close to the barn.
The Praying Mantis, which looks like an alien out of a sci-fi movie, has been described uniquely: “in the world of biological pest control weapons, praying mantises are howitzer cannons.” Moths, crickets, grasshoppers, and flies are the diet of the mantis. They also love to eat roaches.
You can purchase mantis egg sacks from a variety of online companies.
Place the egg case in the crotch of a tree or shrub, and tie it with twine to the branch (yet another good use for hay strings!). Three cases of eggs contain enough mantises to cover approximately 6,500 square feet. Mantis egg sacks hatch in about 10-15 days of warm weather.
Bats are nocturnal while mantises are daylight hunters.
This year I have put in a bigger bat house (that I call The Bat Condo),capable of housing 600 bats. I have ordered more mantis egg sacks, and just this weekend spied a mantis egg sack that had been left by a female mantis before the first frost last autumn. An adult mantis has the lifespan of about 6 months, so the female lays her eggs before she dies.
Between the mantises, bats, fly predators, Amish Fly Control system, apple cider vinegar (sprayed generously on the horses), and fly strips it’s clear to me that it takes a variety of measures to reduce the dependency on chemical insect warfare.
So many pollinators (bees, bats, butterflies, hummingbirds) are at risk from pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Pollinators are responsible for roughly 1,000 plants grown for food, spices, and medicines.