Over the centuries bats have developed quite a negative reputation. While it’s bad enough that they are associated with getting tangled in the hair of humans, they are also the symbol of vampires with the vampire bat being one of the more feared.
The truth is that bats are almost always harmless, unless provoked. And they provide a valuable service in eating up mosquitoes and other flying insects at an amazing rate. Add to this the guano they produce is a valuable fertilizer and you have in the bat an animal that is desired on your property. However, attracting bats is another matter, so you will have to be diligent if you want bats to make your property their home.
1. Bats in the Area
If bats do not migrate or live near your property, then the odds of attracting them are considerably reduced. However, remember that bats are often in places that you might not expect, such as the attics of homes and buildings, so they may actually be closer than you might think. If there is a bat expert or naturalist in your area, then a quick discussion will let you know if attracting bats to your yard is a possibility.
Remember that bats are needed in the spring and summer months as this is where their food supply is active.
To get bats to stay you will need a bat house. The good news is that you can purchase a cheap bat house at many local home improvement stores, online, or you can build one on your own. A good bat house is basically a rectangular box made of wood with an open end at the bottom. On the inside at the top is where the bats will roost during the day.
You should place the bat house high up such as near the roof of your home to provide protection from any predators. Bats can be shy, so you want to place the bat house in a place near the roof that has the fewest number of people around. A bat house does not have to be large, but it does need to be about 15 to 20 feet up off the ground.
Avoid putting bat houses in trees because predators can get at them. Plus, if you can place the bat house on the south side of the house that will work as well since the sun will heat up the interior. You’ll want to inspect the bat house regularly during the spring and summer months to ensure that no bees or wasps have taken shelter.
Don’t worry if you do not see any bats, if you see droppings they leave on the ground below the bat house, then they have moved in.
Depending on how large the property that you want to protect from insects will determine the size of the bat house. Keep in mind that even a few bats can consume thousands of insects each night. For most properties a small house will do. Only if you have a large field or farm with lots of crops to attract insects do you want to build a larger home for the bats.
Having a garden filled with herbs, flowers, and plants that bloom at night is a natural attraction for bats as their favorite food source, insects, are usually around. Your garden can become a magnet for bats as they swoop in at night to consume the insects that are trying to get at your garden plants. Some of the best plants that may attract bats to your yard include the following;
- Evening Primrose
- French Marigold
Plants with blooms that are pale in color also attract insects that bring in the bats as well. You may have to experiment a bit, but for the most part if you focus on the plants mentioned above, you should have no trouble bringing bats to your yard.
All you need is a good birdbath and that should do the trick. Bats consume a considerable amount of water as they fly around and hunt at night, so having a bird bath around can really help. A fountain is another good source of water for bats, so that will work as well.
A cheap alternative to buying a water fountain is to buy a solar powered fountain pump that keeps constant water flowing by using energy from the sun. Cheap, sustainable and effective, this is a great purchase for any yard.
Remember that the bats themselves are not that large, so two to three inches of water ought to work to keep the bats hydrated.
5. Collecting Guano
Because bat guano makes excellent fertilizer, you can use the droppings to spread around in your garden. This makes your plants stronger which in turn attracts more insects which in turn brings in more bats. It’s the kind of circle of life that keeps bats around if you can safely collect the guano.
You can place a bag on the ground under the bat house which can be emptied regularly and stored to provide you with the right fertilizer. Keep in mind that you may have to occasionally clean the side of the home under the bat house thanks to the wind or elements that keep the droppings from going straight down.
During the fall and winter months, most bats tend to hibernate. That means they are inactive during the colder months of the year. You do not want to disturb them or assume the bat house is empty but be aware that if the bat house is in a good location, they can survive even a harsh winter as they sleep away through the cold months.
You can attract bats to you property, providing a much-needed consumer of insects that threaten your plants during the spring and summer months.
Probably the most important tip is that you seal up your attic so the bats do not decide to ditch the bat house you made for them and become part of your home. Bats actually prefer the interior of old attics as it provides additional protection from predators. However, their droppings will soon become noticeable and quite unwanted.
Largest Bat Colony in the World
Take a look at his video which gives some interesting bat facts as well as showing off the largest bat colony in the world!
Are bats blind?
That age-old question…Perhaps popularised by the media or by using various common phrases such as “blind as a bat”, it’s commonly believed that bats can’t see at all. Contrary to this popular belief, though, bats can actually see relatively well! In fact, it’s widely speculated that bats may even have better vision than humans, especially during dusk or dawn – this is when they primarily hunt.
As bats are nocturnal creatures, they are usually active during the dead of night. It’s too dark for even bats to see well, so they rely on ‘echolocation’ and their superior hearing to navigate.
Echolocation involves producing a high-pitched noise which will ‘echo’ or reverberate through the landscape, allowing a bat to quickly identify where they are in relation to their surroundings. Humans can’t hear the noise, as it falls out of the frequency range that we can hear in.
Similarly, humans are unable to recreate the technique of echolocate; believe us, we’ve tried.
What is the best time of year to find bats?
Bats are generally the most active throughout the summer months, as they hibernate throughout the winter. In the summer, bats will be flitting about in the late evening or the very early morning, giving night-owls and early-birds the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse. Chances are that you’ll hear them before you see them; their high pitched squeaks are certainly very distinctive!
Bats are surprisingly speedy, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see much more than a blur. Don’t let this ruin your hopes though – if you’re quiet, you might be able to get fairly close to a resting bat without disturbing it!
It’s important to remember that bats are wild animals and you should not try to touch them. If you have recently come into physical contact with a bat, it’s important that you wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you can.
Whilst bats are creatures of the summer, you can still see them throughout autumn and late winter.Bats like dark, cosy places that humans generally don’t. Throughout their hibernation, they’ll likely be resting in caves, treetops, abandoned houses, and of course church rafters!
What should you do if you find a bat in your home?
If you do find a bat in your house, don’t be alarmed; they’re actually rather cute, sweet animals. It’s a timeless saying, but bats truly are more afraid of you than you will be of them!
Try to keep your pets (especially cats) away from the bat – their predator instincts will kick in, so they’ll probably try to hunt the bat down, making a HUGE mess in the process.
The first thing to remember if you ever encounter a bat in your home is that you should NOT, in ANY circumstances, handle them without appropriate protection. Make sure that your hands are covered (any glove will do) in order to avoid unnecessary harm to yourself or the animal.
If the bat is active, you should open the windows as wide as they go, turn the lights off and close the door. It should then be able to successfully find its own way to freedom!
If not, you should wait until the bat is tired out (motionless), and contain it within a breathable container. Wait until it’s dark outside and release your new friend; be sure to watch it fly off into the distance!
If you have ANY inkling that bats have roosted in your home then you must call professionals. Removing or touching a bats nest is illegal in many countries around the world (USA and UK). Avoid at all costs.
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!