Analysis of the diet of the lesser horseshoe bat Rhinolophus hipposideros in the West of Ireland



The diet of the lesser horseshoe bat Rhinolophus hipposideros was investigated over one season by analysing faeces and discarded insect fragments collected on polythene sheets at eight roosts. Remains of 23 insect families from seven orders (Lepidoptera, Neuroptera, Trichoptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, Diptera and Hemiptera) and of spiders (Araneae: Arachnida) were identified. Nematoceran Diptera were the chief prey but Lepidoptera, Trichoptera and Neuroptera were also important. Both locational and seasonal variation were demonstrated for some food categories. The predicted seasonal availability of the different insect taxa is broadly reflected in the results: the question of possible prey selection is discussed. The bat fed successfully on three families of Lepidoptera known to possess hearing organs sensitive to bat ultrasounds. The possible mechanisms by which R. hipposideros might catch such prey are reviewed.