A pipistrelle is a sub-type of bat that are generally distinguished from bats by being much smaller and having weaker, fluttery flight (like a butterfly). The word pipistrelle is, in fact, derived from the Italian word for bat (pipistrello).
The common pipistrelle has a very large range, across most of Europe, northern Africa, southwestern Asia and even as far as Korea. It is very similar to the soprano pipistrelle in many respects. In fact, it was only in 1999 that it was realised that these are two distinct species. The soprano pipistrelle emits echolocation calls at a higher frequency than the common pipistrelle, which is why it is called soprano. Since then, other differences in appearance, habitat and preferred food sources have also been identified.
During the summer, the common pipistrelle roosts in confined spaces in buildings (e.g. under tiles or within the cavities of flat roofs). When breeding, males create a courtship territory to attract females during the period from mid-July until October. After hibernating, females become pregnant in May and June usually giving birth to one baby at a time although twins can also occur. Babies are nursed until July/August and are mature after a year.
The common pipistrelle forages along woodland edges and along isolated tree lines. It eats insects and flies of various types, with midges being a favourite.
It is frequently encountered in Ireland and the population is stable.
Image (c) from J P, used under Creative Commons License BY 2.0.