One night as the sun was setting, you started hearing odd squeaking noises from up above. As it got darker, you saw something fly out of your attic. After the shock of the situation wore off, you started to wonder if you have bats in your attic, and if so, what you should do. And, perhaps most importantly, what can you do to keep them from coming back?
Over 40 types of bats make their home in the United States. Bats can seek shelter in buildings to be protected from predators. These flying mammals can squeeze their way into very small spaces—even as small as a half to a quarter inch—to make their way into chimneys, walls, attics and other structures. Most bats will be on the move from September through April as they seek a place to hibernate. While bats make high-frequency sounds that are inaudible to humans to fly by means of echolocation, they also emit other noises that we can hear for communication. Some rustling and twittering noises in a chimney may not actually be a bat, but might be chimney swifts, while rats, racoomms, squirrels and other animals may be responsible for any strange thumping or scratching noises in an attic.
Unfortunately, controlling bats isn’t like controlling other types of insect pests. Furthermore, some bat species are protected, so some forms of bat removal are illegal during some times of year. You’ll need to implement a two-part solution to address a bat problem: evicting these uninvited guests and then implementing measures to prevent them from roosting in your attic again.
To determine how to discourage bats from making your attic their home, you need to do a little detective work.
Removing Bats From Your Attic
Attics are a cozy home for most bat species, as they prefer to live in sheltered, dry, warm places. These winged mammals also prefer dark locations because of their nocturnal nature. Attics provide better shelter than just about anywhere else, so if a bat can get in, it’s likely to start roosting there. Then it becomes your responsibility to get them out again.
Bats can get into attics in a number of ways. Since they are small and flexible, many species can enter a space through a gap the size of a dime. One of the most common ways bats enter residential structures is through a vent. Vents typically blow warm air, they’re protected from the elements and they are placed out of sightlines on most homes. That makes them the perfect place to roost. Some bats will follow the warm air and crawl inside the vent, often making it all the way to the attic.
Bats can also get into attics through damaged roofs. Rotten shingles, gaps in the framing or space between the eaves and the walls can lead to bats finding their way inside. Again, a gap can be quite small and bats will still fit through it.
Finally, a frequent attic invasion method is through the chimney. If your home has a chimney, bats are likely to spend some time inside it. It’s warm and easily accessible for bats, and difficult for other creatures to access. If your chimney has any cracks or gaps that lead into your attic, then bats can use that as a pathway to crawl into your home with ease.
Once you have determined how the bats are getting in, you’ll need to place a one-way device at the exit that allows bats to leave, but not re-enter the house. Over a few days, with any luck, all the bats will be out of the house and unable to get back in. When (and if) you’ve successfully evicted your resident bat population, you can work on making other modifications to your property that will prevent their return.
In many cases, bats may not leave your home as quickly as you’d like, or your efforts to get rid of them might not work. Since bats carry rabies and their urine and droppings pose a health threat, you’ll want to be extremely cautious about doing any DIY bat control on your own. Your best bet is to contact a reputable pest control specialist who has the experience to remove any bats and put exclusion measures in place to prevent them from returning.
Making Your Property Less Attractive to Bats
If you want to put measures in place on your own to prevent bats from returning, you’ll want to block off all potential entrances to your attic so bats can’t fit into the space available. You should cover vents and chimneys with mesh lids, and repair and seal any small gaps you can find in your roof. This can help prevent bats from finding new ways into your home. Around your yard, bats like to roost in dead trees, firewood piles or sheds, so removing or covering these roosting spots may make it less alluring for bats looking to find a place to stick around.
You should also make your home unappealing to insects because bats feed on insects that live in dead vegetation. By keeping your yard free of dead leaves and grass and keeping your insect population under control, bats will move on to better food sources. You can also sign up for ongoing pest control to ensure that pest populations on your property stay low. This will not only prevent bats from roosting near your home, but it will also help reduce the likelihood of other a variety of problems with other unwanted insects and wildlife.
Finally, to keep bats away from your home, it’s important to eliminate standing water. Things like pet water bowls, bird baths and even puddles can give bats a source of drinking water. These spots where moisture can collect also give pest insects a place to breed, providing bats with food, too. Getting rid of water will help bats choose another home.
Unfortunately, as we mentioned, bats aren’t the only type of creature that will live in your attic if given a chance. All sorts of animals love the dark, warm, dry conditions that attics provide. If you haven’t seen the pest with your own eyes, here’s more information about how to tell if your attic animal is a bat or something else.
Confirming You Have Bats and Not Something Else
Different animal pests will create different noises. If you hear a significant amount of footstep-type noise, like skittering, thumping or tapping noises in your attic, you’re likely dealing with a raccoon or a squirrel instead. However, if you hear fluttering or light scratching at night, you’re more likely to have bats.
If you spot droppings in your attic, you have a good chance of identifying which creature is residing on your property. Bat guano, or bat feces, looks like black grains of rice which easily breaks into powder (although don’t actually pick up these waste products, unless you are wearing gloves, as guano poses health risks). You’ll spot bat feces accumulating under beams and other places where bats roost, often in a straight line. Other animals will leave scattered, larger droppings.
Because they fly, bats are just about the only animal that won’t leave tracks. If do notice signs of animal activity on the floor of your attic, it is likely not a bat problem. Instead, you’d expect to see claw marks and scratches on the underside of beams and elevated surfaces from bats hanging upside down.
As we have mentioned, bats can get in through very small holes in your attic, so if you see a small hole with droppings around the edge, you’re most likely dealing with a bat problem. Larger holes, or holes with teeth marks and vegetation around them, are more likely to indicate raccoons or squirrels have invaded.
When it comes to removing rats, mice or other types of wildlife, there are a variety of benefits to contacting a professional. Remember that bats and other wildlife can pose health risks to humans and pets, and removing them safely involves wearing protective equipment most homeowners don’t have which will help avoid bites and prevent inhaling particles from droppings. Also, many areas have laws in place protecting bats, as well as some other types of furry animals. Professionals will be well-versed on the local rules and regulations regarding the creatures you may have on your property.
Previously, we had mentioned that bats eat a variety of insect pests. This leads many people to wonder whether or not bats will help reduce the population of mosquitoes on their property. Keep reading to learn more about what bats eat as well as what to do if you’re seeing a bat during the day.
Do Bats Eat Mosquitoes?
Yes, bats eat mosquitoes along with a variety of other insects, such as beetles and moths. About 40 species of bats only eat insects. However, there are other bat species that have a more varied diet, surviving off nectar, fruit and pollen.
Despite the fact that a colony of bats can eat a significant number of insects, they aren’t by themselves a reliable source of pest control. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, bats mostly eat bugs that are active at night, so they aren’t useful for the bugs that bother people during daylight—including many species of mosquitoes. Two, bats can wander far from their roost in search of bugs, so they aren’t always going to eat the bugs on your property.
Finally, having bats on your property can be worse for you than the pest insects, since bats harbor diseases like rabies and histoplasmosis, and their guano can lead to allergy problems. Furthermore, bats are one of the most common causes of rabies in humans, so harboring bats on your property isn’t a great idea.
Bats can also cause severe property damage through their droppings and their claws. Bat colonies can leave stains on the sides of your home and serious accumulation of droppings in your attic. Over time, this can cause your home’s roof support beams to rot, leading to expensive repairs or even a caved-in ceiling. So while there are benefits of bats, there are simpler and safer ways to keep pests away from your property than letting bats live in your attic.
Because bats are capable of transmitting rabies, many people wonder if seeing a bat out during the day is an indication that the bat is rabid.
Why Might I See a Bat Out During the Day?
Bats are nocturnal, so the earliest you should ever spot one is around dusk. They also live in groups, so it’s rare to spot just one bat. Seeing a bat outside during the day can sometimes be a sign that something is wrong, so you should always be cautious if you find yourself in this situation.
There are a few reasons why bats might be outside during the day. Sometimes, a bat roosting outside is just in the process of migrating. If the bat is hanging upside down away from busy areas during the spring or fall, then it’s likely just migrating and separated from its flock. Let it be and it will probably be gone in a day or so.
However, the other main reason for a bat to be out during the day is illness. Bats are a frequent rabies vector. A bat outside during the day may well have rabies, so it’s important to understand the signs of a sick bat.
The bat may be sick if it is:
- Found lying on the ground
- Unable to fly
- Apparently friendly or not defensive when humans approach it
This disease can result in death unless it is treated in time. You should always avoid bats that are acting unusual and contact trusted wildlife control specialists to take the most appropriate next steps. Even if the bat turns out to not have rabies, a licensed professional will be able to help return it to a safer place. Specialists have appropriate safety equipment, so they can properly remove bats with the utmost care.
ABC Can Remove Unwanted Wildlife From Your Property
Having bats on your property can be both alarming and intimidating. Between their size, the diseases they carry and the laws that protect them, DIY bat control is no easy task. When you contact ABC Home & Commercial Services, we can send a specialist to your property who will be able to evict the bats on your property and then put measures in place to prevent them from coming back. We can even implement a broader pest control strategy to make your property less appealing to all types of unwanted insects and creatures that might be in your home and yard. With ABC’s help, you can have peace of mind that you aren’t sharing your home with bats or exposing your family to any risks that come with having these winged mammals in your attic, chimney or crawlspace.