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The common bat is an animal we most associate with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and are popular symbols for this spooky Halloween season.

But, real bats are native to many regions of North America, and can prove to be invasive pests. Unlike the vampire of legend, bats don’t need an invitation to enter your home.

A writer with some experience of bats in the home, recurring BuildDirect blog contributor Jessica Ackerman,  is here to lay down a few points to consider if you’ve got, or suspect you’ve got, airborne rodential houseguests. 

You’ll be happy to know that no wooden stakes or strings of garlic are necessary …

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Bats are among the most misunderstood creatures in the world, probably because Dracula helped to give them such a bad rap.  But the truth is that bats are beneficial to the local ecosystem wherever you may live, since they eat around 1,000 bugs each hour when they are out and about, feeding, at night.  Their favorite treat? Mosquitoes.  Thus, bats are important to keeping the mosquito population in check.

Regardless, when a bat gets into the home, it can be very frightening.  Believe me, I have firsthand experience with a stray bat finding its way into our home, flying around, “blind as a bat”, until we were able to shoo it out the door with a broom.

Bats in your belfry

But bats living in the upper regions of the roof or the attic are a common problem, and the worst part of these uninvited house guests are bat feces, also known as guano, and bat urine.  Bat droppings and urine don’t just cause a nasty smell, but they can also release potentially hazardous microorganisms that can affect the health of you and your family.

If you are experiencing a bat problem, you need to first of all keep the bats from getting in and then deal with the mess they’ve made by cleaning up any fecal matter they have left behind and disinfecting the area where they have been living.

Bats taking up roost

Bats are magnificent and fascinating creatures, and they have a very distinct “sense of place”.  Once they have determined that they want to live with you, they are hard to deter.  The most common months of the year for bats to choose a roosting spot in the home are August and September.

This is because bats give birth in June each year, and they spend most of the summer learning to fly and getting ready to go out on their own at night. Once that is accomplished, they are ready to start roosting on their own. Young bats frequently become lost or disoriented and may end up taking refuge in your home.  If the find a way into your attic, chances are good that they will stick around and tell their friends about the new party spot.

Excluding the bats

Choose the winter months for excluding the bats.  Find their entryway and put up a one-way screen or guard over any possible entrance.  Sometimes finding the entrance is as simple as going out at dusk to watch them leave.  The most common entry point is the attic gable or vent, but any opening will do.  Seal off any holes or get a professional to do so for you.  Be sure to not put up your barrier while the bats are roosting as you will end up with trapped bats – and eventually – rotting bat carcasses.

Some people want to turn to bat poison or traps to kill bats, which is not a humane choice but one that is made nonetheless.  However, bat poison typically ends up causing more problems since the poison can be harmful to humans and leaves the bat’s body trapped somewhere in the home to decompose, which emits an odor.  Further, in many areas of the country, killing a bat is punishable by a fine.

Benefits of bats in your local ecosystem

Most homeowners understand the benefit that bats can have for the neighborhood.  In fact, some have even installed a bat house to attract bats to their yard to help control mosquitoes and other unwanted insects.  If you can exclude the bat from living in your home, the bat house can do wonders towards controlling pests in your back yard in the summer months.

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Thanks, Jessica!

Seeking to help “do it yourselfers”, Jessica Ackerman writes regularly for WallDecorandHomeAccents.com, offering simple illustrations of large wall art and tree of life wall hanging.

Cheers,

Rob.

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Jessica Ackerman

Jessica Ackerman grew up working in her family’s construction business beginning in the back office and migrating to the actual, hands on construction side of the enterprise. In addition to writing posts on the BuildDirect blog, Jessica is currently a senior staff writer for an online home decor store called Wall Decor and Home Accents.