Bats in Your Belfry: Make Your Home Bat-Friendly

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Make your outdoor living area bat-friendly.
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Bats can help keep pests away.

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).

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