Bats are eating
"There are bats in my garden
eating fruit from the trees"
"Bats are in my garden making
First - have you actually seen bats eating from your tree?
Look for whole or partial fruits dropped on the ground beyond the tree's canopy. Inspect partially eaten fruits marked by distinctive scrapings from sets of large canine and tiny front teeth. Under the tree will have balls of fruit pulp and wet droppings. These are all unique indicators of bats rather than other animals like rats or birds.
Fruit damage is also inflicted by a range of other pests including birds, fruit flies and rats so damage without seeing the culprit may not always be bats. Fruit bats are bats that do not use echolocation and do not hunt insects; they eat ripe fruit from trees. Most bats prefer to carry fruit away from the tree before eating, apparently to avoid predators. They cross cleared areas and sometimes travel up to 50 km or more in a single night.
Bats are actually helping you by eating fruit!
Bats are natures clean up crew!
Fruit bats often eat fruits that ripen either too soon, or too late to be found by pickers, or those that are simply missed so crops that are picked green are seldom damaged by them. Over-ripe fruits become breeding grounds for insects and fungi that can be far more serious pests than bats. If the local fruit bats are killed off, these fruits will no longer be eaten. This gives insect pests plenty of food and places to breed.
Fruit bats also clean up by eating over-ripe fruits in the wild. These fruits would otherwise rot on the ground and provide more breeding ground for fungus and insect pests. Fruit bats control insects in another way. Up to 25% of a fruit bat’s diet has been shown to be insects on the fruit, so they are helping to protect the very fruits that they damage.
Bats pollinate your trees
Bats also pollinate fruit trees, both on farms and in the wild. In one study done in Western Africa, up to 95 percent of forest regrowth on cleared land came from seeds dropped by bats.
Ways to prevent bats from eating fruit
Pick fruits a day or two early before they mature completely. Fruit-eating bats prefer their meals ripe or overly ripe.
Hang distracting objects from and near your fruiting plants - anything highly visible that moves easily or makes noise (shiny objects are especially effective).
Having dogs stationed around fruit trees should deter bats.
Bats & The Law
In Malawi some bats species are legally protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act (2018) and the killing, injuring, possession or dealing in these bats carries a sentence of 30 years in jail.