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.
As with every solution to Zika, there is no clear data for us to follow. What we do know is that health experts agree that controlling the disease requires controlling the Aedes Egypti mosquito populations and that’s exactly what bats in North America do.
Bats are far too intelligent to seek the company of anything as dangerous as humans! Bats are also incredible at maneuvering in flight and will avoid humans. In the extremely rare occasion that this might happen, examine yourself for any bites or scratches, and consult a medical professional if you’re concerned.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s important to treat your new bat friends just like you would any wildlife critters or birds in your yard. Never try to touch or handle the animals. On the very rare occasion that a bat would find its way into your home, call your local animal control, and do not try and handle the bat yourself. In the extremely unlikely event that you are bitten or scratched by a bat, go immediately to the hospital. While the odds are extremely small that the bat was carrying rabies, it is always best to take precautionary action.
We get that question a lot. Bats already live all around us, and the chances of getting rabies from a bat is exceedingly rare. Like all mammals, bats can contract rabies (though often at a lower rate than other mammals like raccoons or skunks), but transmission to humans is extremely rare, with just 1-2 cases per year in the U.S. and Canada combined. It’s worth noting that in the majority of those cases, it was a result of a human making the mistake of touching the bat. Never do that. Bats are not pets and should never be handled. For anyone who simply doesn’t handle bats, the odds of contracting any disease are exceedingly remote. Additionally, there are hundreds of thousands of bats living in bat houses across North America, and according to our bat expert, Merlin Tuttle, there's not a single recorded case of a bat house owner being attacked by a bat. In Austin, Texas 1.5 million bats live under the Congress Ave Bridge in the center of the city, have attracted millions of visitors to view their spectacular emergence close-up, and none has ever been attacked or contracted a disease. Less than half a percent of the bat population ever carries rabies, and those that do die off very quickly.
Yes. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of bats living in American bat houses, and according to our expert partner, Merlin Tuttle, there isn’t a single record of a bat house owner having been harmed by a bat. Millions of tourists have viewed 1.5 million bats close-up in Austin, Texas over the past 35 years, and no one has been attacked or contracted a disease from a bat. Bats have a long-standing history of misrepresentation in popular culture. They are portrayed as blood-sucking vampires and serve as spooky mascots of Halloween. In reality, bats are friendly forest critters that just want to be left alone to eat insects. They are incredibly clean since they groom themselves like cats, and despite popular belief, they are not nesters and have no interest in flying into your hair. It’s important to treat bats with respect, as we do all wildlife. They should never be handled or treated as pets, and in no scenario should a bat ever be approached. If a bat ever does seem injured on the ground or near your house, call an animal control specialist to help you manage the situation.
The impact your bats will have on the insect population is dependent on how many of them move in, and the prey preferences of their species. Luckily, since bats are hunting at night, they are not preying on butterflies or honey bees. Small Myotis bats are frequent users of bat houses, and research has shown that a single bat is capable of catching up to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour. In Indiana, a colony of 150 big brown bats (about how many bats could live in a medium-sized bat house) was shown to consume enough cucumber beetles to prevent them from laying up to 33 million eggs in a single summer. Free-tailed bats tend to prefer moths, and just one of them can catch enough corn earworm or armyworm moths in one night to prevent the laying of up to 20,000 or more eggs on a wide variety of crops and yard plants. Bats are a gardener’s secret weapon!