What bugs do bats eat?

Mosquitoes, Sphynx, corn earworm and armyworm moths, green stink bugs, June beetles, cucumber beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and many more. They avoid a lot of the ‘good’ bugs such as bees or butterflies due to scheduling conflicts; bats are actually asleep during the day when these bugs are most active. Learn more about bats in the Bat Education Zone.

Are bats rodents?

In reality, bats are mammals, and they play an important role in the ecosystem. They can act as seed dispersers and pollinators. They clean themselves like cats and are incredibly smart. They also often only have 1 pup (baby bat) a year, which is why it’s so important to keep them safe and help them recover their population.

Can bat guano be used as a fertilizer?

Guano is actually an amazing fertilizer, as it is high in potassium nitrate, which plants love. Consider placing the BatBnB above a low-traffic, non-edible garden bed and the guano will help the plants grow big and strong. Be mindful however, that if too much guano is accumulated it could burn the plant like too much of any fertilizer, too much nitrogen.  Interestingly enough, the potassium nitrate can also be extracted and used in gunpowder and explosives; guano was an important resource for that purpose during the American Civil War. Bat guano has also been found to preserve fossils.

Is guano dangerous?

Avoid touching or breathing in any guano personally, just as you would normally avoid any wild animal droppings. You’re actually more likely to get histoplasmosis from bird droppings than bat droppings, but nonetheless, steer clear of bat droppings and be safe. If you’re ever inclined to move your BatBnB or clean it up close during the winter after it’s already been occupied, then be sure to wear proper respiratory masks and goggles, and don’t breath in any dust. In general though, if you’ve never been overly concerned about bird poop in your life, then guano shouldn’t bother you.

Does having bats living in a bat house in my yard make me more likely to also get bats in my house or attic?

According to our expert Merlin Tuttle, any bat that moves into a bat house in your yard will already have inspected your house and found it unsuited for use. If your house was good for bats, they’d likely already be there. Since bats are wild animals, there’s never a way to guarantee how they will behave. That said, many exclusion professionals will recommend that a well-placed bat house on the exterior of the location in-question will encourage bats to choose the bat house next time they return from hibernation. This works best when the exclusion professional has built in a one-way exit to your barn/attic so that the bats are forced to find a new home. With a BatBnB nearby they’ll be very likely to take up residence there rather than try to sneak back into a building.

What about my dogs and cats? Will they have any issues with the bats?

If you place your bat house according to instructions, occupants are unlikely to be caught by cats as it will be too high up for them. Dogs will have as much as interest in guano as they do any bird poop and are very unlikely to ever interact with a bat. We recommend that all your animals be vaccinated for rabies, as is common practice. If your house pet ever brings a bat into the house, call animal control to properly care for or safely dispose of the animal. Never handle the bat yourself.

What sort of maintenance does my BatBnB unit require?

Your BatBnB will require almost no upkeep. The water-based finish will eventually wear down after several years meaning you can embrace the weathering or chose to refinish it yourself. The bats will not mind, so it’s totally up to your aesthetic preference. Most guano on the landing pads will wash away with rain, but if it does start accumulating over a season, consider putting on a facemask and goggles during the winter and giving the landing pads a quick scrub when the bats are hibernating. Do not inhale any dust and consider hiring a contractor to do this work for you. Please do all your maintenance on a BatBnB in the winter months when the animals are hibernating to avoid disturbing them in their home.

Does putting up bat houses really help save the bats? How so?

One of the greatest threats to bats is the loss of roosts. Millions have lost their homes when old-growth forests were cut, when stags were removed, or when caves were disturbed. In some states, the largest remaining colonies are in bat houses, buildings, or bridge crevices. In Florida, the majority of remaining Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) now live in bat houses. In fact, the critically endangered Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus) is now almost entirely dependent on bat houses. Learn more in the Bat Education Zone.

Why are bats so important to our shared ecosystem?

Bats are critical. They keep the vast numbers of pests and insects under control, pollinate flowers, and carry seeds for important plants. Bats also safeguard our health by reducing demands for toxic pesticides—one of our planet’s most serious, but too often ignored, health threats. In fact, a 2011 study published in the journal Science estimated that bats save U.S. farmers approximately $23 billion annually in avoided pesticide use. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimates such savings in the Texas Hill Country at $1.4 billion annually. Major savings have been documented worldwide. This link will provide you with many examples, including mosquito control.

Why do bats need our help?

Millions of bats are dying of an introduced fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, which is fatal to bats, and careless use of wind turbines is killing millions more needlessly. By simply not spinning the blades at low wind speeds at night when bats are migrating, kill rates could be reduced by as much as 90% with minimal loss of power production. However, even before these threats appeared, two of America’s formerly most abundant species had become endangered (Indiana and gray bats) through roost loss alone. Millions have died in the past decade in the U.S. alone, but since they’ve traditionally been unpopular, and neglected by conservationists, status trends often have gone undocumented. Learn more in the Bat Education Zone.

Are there commercial uses for BatBnB?

Absolutely! Agricultural research reports often highlight bat populations as an important component of natural pest control for farmers. In fact, bats save the US agricultural industry over $20 Bn in crop damage each year. We offer special bulk discounts for farmers and other businesses--such as golf courses, city centers, state parks, hotels, and even local municipalities--that would like to deploy multiple BatBnB units around their property. We also see a use case for hotel chains and even local municipalities to minimize mosquito populations in a stylish and non-invasive way. If you are interested in a bulk order of BatBnBs, get in touch.

How is BatBnB aiding bat conservation efforts?

Although there are many causes of bat decline, loss of roosting places has been the most serious. BatBnBs are providing safe and comfortable housing for our bat population while serving as a conversation starter to help you educate your neighbors about the vital importance of bats in the ecosystem. Every bat lost means more toxic pesticides in our food and water. By providing shelter for homeless bats, we can improve the future for all. Additionally, a portion of BatBnB’s proceeds will be donated to various bat conservation organizations.

Will I notice a meaningful reduction in my local mosquito population?

Many people have anecdotally reported reduced mosquitos. Another controlled study documented that bats could significantly reduce egg laying success for mosquitoes. Recently, a paper published in the Journal of Mammalogy reported a new study from Wisconsin that documented widespread consumption, by little brown and big brown bats, of 15 species of mosquitoes, nine of which are known carriers of West Nile virus. These two species are the most frequent bat house users in the northern half of the U.S. and Canada.

What if I already have bats in my attic?

That's actually great! Attics often provide ideal accommodations from which bats are reluctant to move except when excluded, which is when you create a one way exit out of your attic. Several leading animal control professionals advertise that once bats are excluded from an attic, they'll try to find a new home nearby in your shed, barn, or even at a neighbor’s house. They recommend putting up a bat house or two nearby to offer the bats an option to quickly relocate when they return from hibernation. When bats are given a nearby bat house of sufficient size to accommodate their whole colony, they often move in to a house that was provided at least a few weeks prior to exclusion. This keeps the bats safe and stops them from going back into your attic. Sounds like a win/win in our book.

How do I attract bats to my property?

Bats live almost anywhere there is moderate climate and insects. The key to getting them to find your BatBnB is in placement. Sun is most important. Each unit needs at least 6+ hours of direct sunlight each day. Placing them on the side of a house, barn, or shed is the best placement. Trees can work, but with lower chances of success since they offer too much shade and easy perches for predators. If you do prefer to place it on a tree, make sure it is a sunny spot at least 15 feet from the nearest branch where predators can perch. You must place your unit between 12-20 feet up, higher the better. Having a natural water source (pond, stream, brook, etc.) within a mile of your property is ideal, but not necessarily a deal breaker. Small things like having water features and night-blooming flowers can also help attract bats. Learn more about ideal placement in our hanging guide.