Bats in Your Belfry: Make Your Home Bat-Friendly

Consider backyard bats to help keep mosquitoes and other pests out of your neighborhood.
May/June 2004
http://www.motherearthliving.com/Gardening/Bats-in-Your-Belfry.aspx
Make your outdoor living area bat-friendly.


Photo By Mark and Selena Kiser, Bat Conservation International

Are mosquitoes driving you batty? Bats may be the answer. One little brown bat can consume several thousand insects per night. Hygienic and non-aggressive, bats will not attack humans or pets. With these tips on becoming a bat landlord, you should be able to situate a house that will attract the night patrollers to your yard.

• Bats love warm, dry conditions, so select a sunny spot for the bat house. Cover the exterior with several coats of dark, water-based paint to raise the inside temperature.

• Mount houses at least twelve to fifteen feet high on a building or sturdy poles. The front should face whatever direction gets the most sun and has an open fly zone.

• Bats like a water source—a stream or a pond— but don’t worry if you don’t have one. They only shun extreme polar and desert regions.

• Look for Bat Conservation International’s seal of approval before buying or building a bat house. This nonprofit group’s website, BatCon.org, lists certified houses, do-it-yourself plans, and climate-specific tips.

• Don’t get discouraged. Even the best house may go unused. Try relocating or repainting vacant houses after a year or so.

• Expect seasonal visits; many bats winter elsewhere. Spring may attract nursing mothers to new houses.

• Larger designs (more than two-feet tall) and multiple houses increase occupancy chances.

• If you’re building your own, use exterior-grade plywood or wood (avoid pressure-treated lumber).