Bats Will Clear Your Yard Of Insect Pests

Say “bats,” and most people will think of rabies, flying mice, being attacked and having the bat tangled in their hair.  This is nonsense and has lead to the decline of many bat species and serious trouble for us if the population of these beneficial mammals doesn’t recover soon.  Bats share a shrew-like ancestor with primates and have been around for 50 million years.  They have only one to two offspring per year, which makes them vulnerable to long term population declines.

100 million Mexican Free-tail bats migrate north into Texas each year and consume 1000 tons of insects each evening.  They fly to an elevation of 10,000 feet in order to eat the corn ear-worm moth as this pest migrates north to our farmlands.  Even the sound of a bat’s echolocation will drive many insect pests out of the area. Having bats around will reduce much of the mosquito, moth, and beetle population and is much better than those noisy bug lamps that also kill predatory insects like ladybugs.

There are only two common bats in our area: the Mexican free-tail and the Evening bat.  These small bats eat insects and roost in trees and man made structures like bridges and attics.  Use a bat excluding device and never poisons to remove bats from your home.  Make sure that the young have left before putting this up.

A bat house is easy to make and can be mounted on a 10 to 20 foot pole or under the eave of your house.  The color should be brown and placed where it will receive sun most of the day.  Lighten the color if the temperature gets too hot inside, but keep in mind that bats like a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why they roost in attics. Tree limbs should be 20 feet away to keep bat predators at a distance. Turn off nearby bright lights. Bats catch insects near water so try to locate the bat house near a pond.

As with any wild animal that lets you get near it, don’t touch it and you won’t get bitten.  About one in a thousand bats has rabies yet the strain is rarely transmitted to humans even if you are bitten.  Bats die quickly from rabies and do not become aggressive.  I would worry about feral cats more than bats if you are concerned about rabies.

Europeans have encouraged bats to their yards for over 80 years.  Interest in the U.S. started in the 1980’s and is growing each year as people learn more about these beneficial mammals.  With a bit of experimentation, and time, you can discover the proper location for a bat house and enjoy watching bats dive after insects in the light of the setting sun.

Try batcon.org for more information and great designs for bat houses.