Bats In Your Belfry?

There are usually two problematic scenarios you may encounter with bats in your home:

  1. when a lone bat flies into a building, or
  2. when a maternity colony of bats roosts in a building.


The Lone Ranger

Individual bats occasionally will enter a home, most often during summer evenings in mid-July and August. These lone bats are usually young bats that are just beginning to fly. Fortunately, these incidents can be dealt with quite easily. The best method for getting a bat out of the house is to allow it to find its own way out. Chasing or swatting at the bat will cause it to panic and fly around the room, which needlessly prolongs the incident.

If you do encounter a bat flying in a room, follow this procedure:

  1. Shut all doors leading into other rooms to confine the bat to as small an area as possible.
  2. Open all windows and doors leading outside to give the bat a chance to escape. (Don’t worry about other bats flying in from the outside.)
  3. Remove pets from the room, leave the lights on, stand quietly against a wall or door, and watch the bat until it leaves.
  4. Do not try to herd the bat toward a window. Just allow it to calmly get its bearings, and don’t worry about it swooping at you. When indoors, a bat makes steep, banking turns, so it flies upwards as it approaches a wall and swoops lower near the center of the room.
  5. Within ten to fifteen minutes the bat should settle down, locate the open door or window, and fly out of the room.

If you have recurring problems with bats entering your home, you may want to have your attic inspected to determine if you are housing a bat maternity colony.


House Bat Maternity Colonies

Most bats in Ohio and Pennsylvania roost in secluded locations away from human contact, but two species, the big brown bat and the little brown bat, often attract attention because they repeatedly roost in buildings. These ‘house bats’ situate their roosts in hot attics, which act as incubators for their growing pups.

Because they live in such close quarters with humans, unique challenges are involved in the conservation of house bats. House bats have only one or two pups per year, so the protection of their maternity colonies is important to the survival of these beneficial mammals. The destruction of just one maternity colony through chemical extermination or vandalism can have a long-term impact on the populations of both bats and insects in a local area. Unfortunately, homeowners often consider maternity colonies a nuisance and may mistakenly believe that extermination or destruction of the colony is their only solution. There is, however, a safe, humane, and effective procedure for removing a bat colony from a building. This procedure, called bat-proofing, is described in the following sections.


If You Are Housing a Bat Colony

One way to tell if you are sharing your house with a bat colony is to simply go into the attic and look for roosting bats. During the day, bats will likely be roosting in narrow crevices in the attic walls, between the rafters, or tucked into the space between the rafters and roofing material. When you enter the attic, the bats will quickly retreat out of sight (rather than taking flight). If you can’t see them, listen for the squeaking or scurrying sounds that will verify their presence.

If you are uncomfortable entering the attic when bats may be present, you can inspect the attic at night for bat droppings. The dry, black droppings are about the size of a grain of rice, and accumulate in piles below areas where the bats roost. (Mouse droppings look similar, but you would find them scattered in small amounts throughout the attic.) If you find bats living in your attic during the day, or if you find large accumulations of bat droppings, then you probably have a maternity colony in your house.

If you have a bat colony in your attic and you want to remove it, you must use the proper methods to do so. Do not use chemical poisons or repellents to eliminate a bat colony. Poisons often scatter dead, dying, or disoriented bats throughout the house and neighborhood, which increases the risk of children or pets coming into contact with sick bats. Repellents, such as moth balls or flakes (naphthalene), sulfur candles, or electromagnetic or ultrasonic sound devices do not permanently remove bats from a home. Unless their entrances are sealed, the bats will return as soon as the chemical repellents wear off.

The best way to safely and permanently evict a maternity colony is to seal all of the colony’s entrances.


Bat-Proofing your home

Bats usually enter at points where joined materials have warped or shrunk.

To identify which of these areas are providing access, look for tell-tale bat droppings on the side of the house below a suspicious crack or crevice. Also, entrances that have been used for a long time may have a slight brown discoloration at the edges. Inspecting inside the attic can also reveal openings that need to be sealed. Inside, bat droppings often accumulate below bat entrances and exits. During the day, turn off the attic’s lights and look for openings that are allowing outside light, and possibly bats, to pass through.


Sealing Entrances

Once the bat entrances have been located, the next step in bat-proofing is to seal these openings. Here at Complete Pest Solutions, we use window screening or hardware cloth to cover louvered vents or large gaps and cracks in the building. We also fill in smaller cracks, use expanding foam insulation or caulking.  Unlike mice, bats will not gnaw new holes in the building, so sealing the existing holes will keep them out. Complete Pest Solutions will take care of the entire process from safely getting the bats to exit the home and sealing it so they don’t come back.  We warranty our bat program for 3 years.