How do I get into insect hunting

Pfaffenhofen conservationists are hoping for evidence of piped bats

The idea for the initiative was born among those active who have dedicated themselves to bat protection in the district for about three years. The volunteers, whose work is professionally supported by the biologist Anika Lustig, soon discovered that little is known in the region about the roosts and numbers of the particularly strictly protected pipistrelle. Although it is one of the most common of its kind in Bavaria.

The pipistrelle likes to lodge behind house panels, under roof overhangs or other places suitable for hanging and only leaves them at night on quiet wings. In view of the large number of possible hiding places and a comparatively manageable number of fellow campaigners, it would not be possible to get even a rudimentary overview here without the help of attentive district residents, says Lustig and therefore hopes for feedback from the population. Her appeal: "If you know of bat roosts in your area, on your house or on other buildings, please inform us."

But how do you, as a layperson, know whether such a very secret crevasse inhabitant has moved in somewhere? "Small black droppings (excrement crumbs) that stick to house or garage facades can be an indication," explains the specialist. Often found on the house wall in the gable area, below a cladding or the cover plate on flat roofs. Small piles of excrement on the floor below, on the window ledge or in the attic are also a clue. Anyone who suspects such traces can turn to the bat protectors. "Someone of us would be happy to come by to get an idea of ​​the situation," says the bat protection coordinator in charge of the region, who also takes away a widespread concern: "In our part of the world, the remains do not pose any health risks. On the contrary "They are good garden fertilizers".

If you have a little patience and have a bit of luck on top of that, you may even be able to guess the acrobats from their hiding place on the excursion. To speak of seeing would be a little too promising given her body size, her speed and her reddish to dark brown fur, which is barely noticeable in the dark. And the human ear cannot hear their maneuvers either. "For our senses they act like a fascinating, silent shadow play", describes a hobby observer the experience.

Pipistrellus pipistrellus, the mammal's scientific name, flies out in spring and summer at the onset of dusk. In the area of ​​human settlements, she goes hunting in parks, avenues, and also on the banks of water in a zigzag course. Up to 500 insects, including mosquitoes, are caught every night by ultrasound tracking at an altitude of three to five meters. Active during the warm season, she turns out to be more of a snore nose from November to the end of March and sleeps a few weeks. Unlike long-sleeping species, however, it interrupts this winter dormancy more often and, with a little luck, can even be observed at minus temperatures.

Anika Lustig and her colleagues are looking forward to the feedback. "If someone suspects that a bat has nested behind the shutters, wood paneling or in the area between the roofs of their house, then we look forward to a call," says the biologist. A small team will be happy to come by for the evening excursion time. "With the help of so-called bat detectors, we can register the animals' calls and use the acoustic patterns to determine their species," explains the expert. If required, the "landlords" receive all sorts of information about their guests, who, as she emphasizes, "usually only stay for a short time in the year and do not cause any permanent damage to the building fabric".

In addition to the coordinator of bat protection (0176) 20118464, the contact persons are Volker Riehm (0160) 90978155 and Dorothee Bornemann (0173) 3139432 for the south of the district, Marion Sieber (0160) 1426502 for the center of the district and Uli Zurek (0176) 55018428 for the north of the district. PK

Maggie Zurek