This past week the smell of my perfume (mosquito repellent) finally got to me. We needed bats.
There are 16 species of bats in Alabama. Some migrate through the state while others are year-round residents. Two of these species, the gray myotis and the Indiana myotis, are listed as endangered species by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Four more are listed as species of special concern by the Alabama Department of Conservation.
Bats carry with them a negative vibe — dark creatures in the night swooping down to scare humans. Bats are seen at night and late evening when they are out in search of food. Often they are seen in areas with nightlights, scoping out the flying insects that are attracted to the lights. A single bat will “swoop down” and eat thousands of flying insects in a night. I went night fishing once and the bats dove at my crickets each time I cast.
Naturally, bats roost in trees and caves. In the summer they may roost behind bark crevices or even Spanish moss. And we all know that they will sometimes occupy our chimneys, attics and eaves, prompting many phone calls inquiring as to how bats can be excluded from home structures.
The phone calls usually begin, “I need to get rid of some bats in the attic.” It may be common for a few bats to nest in an area, but rarely is an entire colony present. Even a few can make a mess of an attic or any indoor structure, but bats are protected. Applying any kind of toxic bait is against the law. Running them out and bat-proofing the area is best.
Finding the point of entry is crucial. It is hard to bat-proof a structure when you do not know where they are entering. Bat-proofing cracks should be done at night when bats are active or after you have run the bats from the structure. I have accomplished this before by using a big light in an attic. One-way valves should be installed over all major entry points, with at least one valve on each side of the building the bats are using. Just a reminder — flightless young bats may be present from May until August. So wait until after August to seal up crevices or apply one-way valves.
If you do plan on running some bats out of the attic soon, give them another place to go. If you are devoid of tree cavities in your yard, try building a bat house. It make take some time for the bats to use it, but eventually they will. Check out the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s publication on bats and building bat houses at aces.edu. Search “Bats and Bat Houses, ANR-757.” For instructions on making one-way valves, search “Bat Management In Alabama, ANR-622.”