Holy flying mammal, batman! Did you know that a single little brown bat can catch up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour? Wow! One gray bat will munch on 3,000 insects in a night. I don’t know about you, but those statistics make these little nighttime flyers pretty popular with me. Would you like to attract some bats to your homestead for natural, nontoxic pest control? Read on for some advice on this topic.
First thing is to get over any aversion you have to bats. There are quite a few folks out there who find them to be scary, evil, rabies-carrying creatures. Maybe this is because they are active at night, or because they have a reputation for sucking blood. It is true that there is one species in Central and South America that takes a very small amount of blood from cattle, but isn’t that something mosquitoes do to us on a regular basis? Besides, none of these kinds of bats live in the United States and they have never been known to bite a human. As for rabies, they are not any more prone to the disease than any other mammal.
So now that you know bats are not to be feared and can consume huge numbers of insect pests on a daily (okay, nightly) basis, let’s discuss how you can encourage bats to roost in your very own backyard. The first way to get the little critters interested in your yard is to leave a dead tree if you happen to have one. Some dead trees can pose a problem if they are close to your house or other structures, but if you have a tree that can be left on your property, chances are the bats will eventually move in. The bark that loosens up and pulls away from the trunk when a tree dies provides a perfect little crevice for bats, who love to squeeze into small spaces.
Let’s say you’re like most people and having a dead tree on your property is not an option. The next best choice is to install a bat house. If you are handy and want to try building your own bat house, there are easily-accessible plans online. If you’d rather purchase a ready-made bat house, those are also available online. You may want to visit the website for Bat Conservation International. You’ll find bat house plans, ready-made houses, and all kinds of fascinating bat information.
Once your bat house is ready to be installed, the big question is where to put it. The location you choose will determine the likelihood of having bats move into the house. Mounting a bat house to a tree, while an easy choice, should not be your first choice. Bats are not as fond of houses on trees as they are of some other locations. The first and best choice should be to mount your bat house to the side of a building. If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, the bat house should be installed on the side of the building that gets the most sun. If you live in southern climates, this is less important. If mounting a bat house to a building is not an option for you, the next best choice is to attach it to a pole, either an existing pole or one that you install for this purpose.
Don’t be disappointed if you don’t have bat residents as soon as you install your bat house. While they sometimes show up very quickly, it is more common for it to take up to a year before the bats discover your addition and move in. If you live in the northern two-thirds of the United States, you are most likely to get the little brown bat or the big brown bat living in your bat house. These guys will probably migrate south for the winter, but should return when the weather warms up. Southern states, especially the Gulf states, may also get the brown bats but are more likely to see the Mexican free-tailed bat using the bat house.
No matter what kind of bat you attract or whether they are summer residents only or hang out all year long, it is well worth your time and effort to attract them to your homestead by installing one or more bat houses on or near your home. Encourage other community members to do the same. You’ll enjoy the natural pest protection that they will happily provide you and your family.