Monday, July 07, 2014

BATS: An Ecological Method of Insect Control

Tips for installing a bat house

Many people believe that bats are dangerous because they’ve been watching too many movies.  In fact, bats are an important way to control insects.  They do eat mosquitoes too, but  this part of their reputation is a bit over-rated because bats tend to fly a bit higher than mosquitoes. Still, they do eat mosquitoes.  Encouraging bats to live around your place is an easy, natural way to control unwanted insect populations.  In nature, bats would reside in hollow trees, which are abundant in the forest, but less common in the urban areas. 

This is why you’ll probably need to install a bat house if you want to encourage them to live around your place.  Bat houses can be purchased at garden supply shops and on-line catalogs.  They can also be made from scrap lumber, and rough lumber is better because bats need something to cling onto.

The location of your bat house is important because bats are a bit choosey as to where they make their home. Just tacking a bat house up on the wall doesn’t guarantee that bats will occupy it.  Bat Conservation International offers a few suggestions for properly installing a bat house.

Make sure that the bat house gets a lot of sunlight. The bats don’t like the sunlight, per se, but they need the warmth to raise their young. So a bat house should be situated where it get a lot of sun, ideally on a free-standing pole if possible.  The bat house can also be painted black to help with heat retention.

Bats are more likely to occupy a house that is about 15 to 20 feet above the ground.  A pre-made bat house should be well-anchored to the house, or pole, and studies have shown that the bats are less likely to use the pre-made house that is anchored to a tree. 

Make sure there are no obstructions to the entry of the bat house within 20 feet. 
Assuming you’ve done all this, you should still give the bats time to notice the house.  If  there are no bats in the house within two years, try moving it to another location. 

Even if bats occupy the house you’ve provided for them, don’t expect miracles. They are not going to reduce your mosquito population to zero, but they will eat mosquitoes and other insects, and you won’t have to use harmful insecticides on your property to take advantage of their free service.

And because the needs of bats are very specific, it turns out that many bat house that are pre-made are not ideal.  Bat Conservation International provides a list of bat house manufacturers which conform to the needs of bats. They also provide free plans for building your own. Just check their web site at

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