It’s unfair how bad a rap bats get. Between the vampire films, spooky decorations, and blood-sucking ghost stories, you’d think they were all out to get us. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Bats are relatively harmless and rarely bite humans unless provoked — so don’t poke!
Forget their fearsome reputation and consider trying to attract bats rather than avoid them. If you garden or spend a lot of time outside, bats are quite beneficial. Most North American bats eat insects and can gobble up over 1,000 mosquitoes per hour. That means an ordinary colony of 75 bats can devour up to 75,000 insects in just 60 minutes — talk about pest control!
Another perk: bat droppings, otherwise known as guano, act as a nutrient-dense fertilizer, making that garden of yours thrive like never before.
So how can you bring bats to your neighborhood? Like all creatures, bats seek food, water, and shelter. Here’s how to make your backyard move-in ready for these productive creatures.
- 1. Find out what bats live nearby.
- 2. Offer a water source.
- 3. Let your garden act as a magnet.
- 4. Buy or build a bat house.
- 5. Guard your own home.
- Bat House FAQ
- The Echo
- How to Attract Bats to Your Backyard
- Leave Dead Trees
- Build or Buy a Bat House
- Keep Fluffy Indoors
- Attract Bats for Organic Insect Control
- Why You Should Attract Bats
- How to Attract Bats
- Bat Myths
- Build a Bat House
- Attracting Bats to Your Yard and Garden
- Bat House Location: How To Attract Bats To A Bat House To The Garden
- Bat House Location: How to Attract Bats to a Bat House
- Bat House Plans: Building a Bat House
- Attract Beneficial Bats To Your Garden
- 4 Ways to Attract Bats to a Bat House in Your Backyard
- How to Attract Bats to a Bat House
- How to Lure a Bat Into a Bat Box
1. Find out what bats live nearby.
If you’re in an urban area, it’ll be harder to spot bats. You might want to reach out to a bat enthusiast group or locate an expert leading local walks. Contact the Bat Conservation International for more information. A little research can go a long way toward creating an appealing environment for local bats.
2. Offer a water source.
Bats can lose 50% of body weight in water in a single day, according to Bat Conservation International’s Water for Wildlife program; even desert species periodically need H20.
Unsurprisingly, having a pond or water feature on your property then makes it very enticing for bats. If you don’t have a natural water source nearby, Penn State Extension recommends installing a birdbath or fountain to attract more bats to your backyard.
3. Let your garden act as a magnet.
Make your garden work for you while you sleep. Fragrant flowers, herbs, and night-blooming plants attract nocturnal insects, which, in turn, lure bats. The more insects, the better.
Try planting dahlia, French marigold, nicotiana, evening primrose, thyme, raspberry, or honeysuckle. Pale-colored blooms also have a good chance of bringing in bugs.
4. Buy or build a bat house.
To attract bats to roost in your yard, you’ll need a place for them to call home — a bat house! Buy one online (like this popular Applewood Outdoor Premium Bat House), at your local home improvement store, or build one yourself. DIYers can download this single-chamber bat house plan from Bat Conservation International’s site.
Here’s how to make a home fit for a bat:
Choose the right location.
Mount the bat house on a pole or on the side of a building. Tree-mounted homes are a no-no, since they’re easily accessible to predators and offer too much shade.
Bats need height to drop down before they catch flight, so the bat house must be high enough (at least 15 feet) for them to fly away without running into a predator on their downward journey.
Keep it small.
Bats like narrow, tight spaces to call home, similar to the space between a tree trunk and its bark. Since they don’t build nests like birds, they won’t need room for nesting materials. Instead, ensure the surface inside is slightly rough, making it easy for them to claw up.
Maintain an ideal temperature.
Bats prefer warmer climates between 85 and 100° Fahrenheit. Position the bat home facing south to southeast. That way, the bat house catches the heat and warms up when the sun rises.
Do a security check.
The bat house provides a respite from wind and rain, not to mention dangerous predators. Inspect it regularly from spring to early fall to make sure no bees or wasps have taken up shop.
You’ll know your bat home is a success and the bats have taken up residence when droppings begin appearing around the house on the ground.
5. Guard your own home.
Before you put out the welcome mat for bats, make sure you’re not accidentally inviting them into your own home. Bats and humans are more compatible when they aren’t sharing residency. Since bats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter, you’ll want to seal up any openings around your own house. Bats love particularly old homes with lots of nooks and crannies and often move into attics.
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So, you want to get some bats on your property? Are you looking to control mosquitoes and enjoy outdoor living, again?
Then you’ve come to the right place. At Big Bat Box, we’re all about attracting more bats to your property, conserving the species, and ultimately, controlling pests and mosquitoes on your property.
Enough with the small talks, let’s dive in and find out how to attract more bats in five simple steps…
First and Foremost
If you already have bats living on your property, your chances of them moving into the bat box are very good. In fact, unless you royally screw something up, your bats will be instantly attracted to the Big Bat Box.
That’s the good news. There’s some bad news, too. Well, it’s not bad news, it’s just reality. If you don’t have bats on your property, we’ll have to take a few extra steps to attract them. While it’s not guarantee, we’ve had great success doing so.
Just look at one of our prior customers had to say…
“I bought a bat house in 2015 from Big Bat Box. This is the third summer the house has been up now, and we finally have bats! My husband saw the bat guano underneath the house when he was up on the roof a few weeks ago cleaning the gutters. I’m not exactly sure what we have, but based on the size of flying bats we’ve seen, I’m guessing they’re little brown bats.
We live on the south side of the Big Thompson River, just west of Estes Park, at the foot of Giant Track Mountain close to the Beaver Meadows entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. I’d say we’re about 200 yards from the river. We’re on the north slope of the mountain, so it’s cooler here and gets less sun. The bat house is mounted on the east side of our house. Our elevation here is about 7,800 ft.
The Big Bat Box is the best-constructed bat house I’ve ever seen, and I know a little about bat houses since we sold them for years at a retail store we used to have. I was also impressed with the map showing what exterior color one should request based on where one lives. As the new owner, I think you have a great company.
We tried for years, beginning nearly 30 years ago, to get bats in various locations in Colorado. This is the first time we’ve ever had success. It may be the location, but I also think it’s the Big Bat Box.”
One More Thing
Before we dive into attract bats 101, we need to discuss the difference between a colony of bats and bachelor bats.
Bachelor bats are just that, a few male bats that take up residence on your property. Where as a colony of bats is a fancy way of saying a family. It’s where the female bats raise her pups. This is ideal, as you will have whole team of bats cleaning up on your bugs.
Below we’ll will discuss exactly what it takes to get a colony of bats. Even if a colony isn’t popular where you live, you may still have a very good chance of getting batchelor bats, which is great.
Why? Because bachelor bats have huge appetites for mosquitoes, too!
How Likely Are You to Get Bats?
Now we’re getting to the good stuff – how to attract more bats! A study done by Bat Conservation International has found that these five factors determine is you attract bats or not. In fact, your success rate of attracting bats will be between 83% and 92% based on which factors you hit and where you miss the mark.
In layman’s terms, that means the closer you fall within the guidelines or each category, the higher likelihood your mosquito issues will disappear overnight.
Here are the top five things that successfully attract bats – in no particular order:
If you have all five conditions on your property, then congratulations. You have a 83-92% chance of successfully attracting a colony of bats. However, if you meet all five conditions above to a “T” – we found the success rate to be nearly 100%.
Now, let’s look at each of the five points in detail:
Are You Close to a Body of Water?
Nursery bat houses, which are capable of supporting hundreds of bats, need to be close to water. This is because the female bats do not like to be away from their flightless newborn pups for much time. The adult bats drink by skimming water into their mouth as they fly low over a body of water. The water source can be a lake, pond, or a stream that is several feet wide.
Nursery bat houses that are within a quarter mile of a water source have the greatest potential for success. If you do not live near a body of water, you can still have bats, it is simply less likely that you will have a colony of bats.
In these situations, we recommend buying our batchelor bat box, a smaller and inexpensive box to house the few batchelor bats that are normally be found in areas more than a half-mile from a body of water.
Is There Mixed Agriculture Around, Including Orchards?
Flowers, fruits, and orchards attract bugs like nobody’s business. You’ll find more bugs around an orchard than you’ll find anywhere else. There’s simply more food for many insects with all the flowers and fruits around.
Bats know this, too. Bats come to orchards to eat the insects – not the fruit. As such, the biggest draw for many bats is being close to an orchard. These locations ensure a bat will never be far away from one heck of a feast.
Now, not everyone can live near an orchard. There just aren’t that many orchards out there. So what can you do? Plant a few few trees or maintain a small garden near where you want to keep the bat box.
By doing so, you’ll attract a few extra insects to your property, but the extra bats you attract will more than make up for it. This I guarantee!
Do You Have a Warm Sunny Spot to Put Your Bat Box?
Bats are small warm-blooded mammals. Because they are so small, they lose a large amount of heat through their skin. They replace this lost energy by eating thousands of mosquitoes and other insects every night. However, in the morning when the bats return home to sleep, their house may be uncomfortably cold.
They will huddle together to stay warm and yet this alone may not be enough. You can assist them in staying warm by placing your bat house in a location where it will receive the warmth of the sun. Specifically, the bat house should face south or southeast so that it receives the warmth of the sun. From our experience, most people underestimate how much heat a bat house needs.
It’s almost impossible to overheat a bat house. In fact, it’s much more likely that it’ll not be warm enough.
How High Up is Your Bat House?
We’ll keep this one simple. The higher a bat house is located off the ground, the greater the chance of occupancy success.
Bats use sight to locate their new homes. Generally, a bat is more likely to spot your bat house as being a possible home if it is high up and out in the open.Another reason for placing the bat house higher up is to avoid predators. For example, hawks will often pick off bats as they leave their home. The danger of ambush by hawks may be the reason why bats avoid flying through tree branches.
Is Your Bat House BCI-Certified & Painted Based on Climate?
Poorly made bat houses do not attract bats. Remember, it is critical that all of the requirements are fulfilled to assure your best chances of achieving success. All our bat boxes have been Certified by BCI, and are engineered to attract bats. We designed the Big Bat Box based on years of comprehensive study.
Finding the Ideal Bat House For You
Now that you understand how to attract bats, it’s time to be honest with yourself and the situation. You need to decide what type of bats are best for your need:
After reading through the above list, you should have a good idea about the chances you’ll get a colony of bats, or if you should settle for bachelor bats.
From our experience, the defining factor is if you live within ½ mi of a body of water, river, or stream. If you do not live that close to water but live in a predominantly agricultural area you may still have a fair chance of getting a colony of bats.
If you don’t have either of these, you may want to settle for trying for bachelor bats. Bachelor bats still eat a ton of mosquitoes, too. Don’t be upset. Your pest problem can still be solved by bats.
We just want to be honest and upfront with everyone. Most people will have some level of control over points 3-5, but will have little control whether they live near water or in an agricultural area.
The Overall Verdict: Attracting Bats Using a Big Bat Box
If you feel good about your chances of getting a colony of bats you can get our BCI-Certified large nursery Bat Box here.
Bat House FAQ
Bat House FAQ
Our Bat Houses are available for Purchase in our Bat-eStore!
Here is a compilation of common questions we are asked about our bat houses.
Where should I put my new bat house?
Every bat house we sell comes with complete information on the best place to position a bat house and why. Without going to the length of detail in the manual here are some good guidelines. Place your bat house a minimum of 10 to 12 feet high facing South to South East. Look for a location that gets early sun and continues to get sunlight through most of the day, remember bats like it between 85 and 100 degrees F. Avoid being too close to trees where owls or hawks may wait for a quick meal. The side of a house, barn or on a pole is always a good option. Trees are generally (though not always) less successful in attracting colonies. A few exceptions I’ve seen are isolated pine trees or large poplar trees with one side exposed to sunlight. With trees just remember, they provide a good climbing surface for predators and foliage can block sunlight.
How can I attract bats to my new house?
This is one of the most common questions I’m asked. Unfortunately there is no proven way to attract bats. For bats to be present they need food, water and housing. Flying insects are a good food source, water needs to be within about 1/4 of a mile. Small ponds, creeks, home garden ponds and even pools are all viable water sources. If water is not close by don’t give up hope. Some bat species are prone to travel much further for food and water than others. As for housing, a good bat house or suitable roosting spot in the attic of a barn or structure is all they need to call home.
How can I tell when bats are in the house?
The best and usually first indication is bat droppings on the ground. Small numbers of bats may inhabit the house off and on as the season progresses. These small numbers may not produce much guano so check the ground closely first thing in the morning for small black dots. Another good way is to watch it in the evening. This is still not a sure method since you may pick an evening when they leave early or stay in late or transient bats have left. Finally, it is OK during the day to shine a bright flashlight up into the bat house for about 30 seconds to look for bats. During the hotter time of the day they will generally be lower in the house and easier to see. However, don’t make this a common practice especially for a young start up colony, if the bats feel threatened or disturbed they could abandon the house. And while looking up… keep your mouth closed!
Can I attach my bat house to my home? (or tree, or metal building, or phone pole etc…)
Attaching your bat house to your home is OK. But you need to consider, when you hang your bat house on a structure don’t forget about the guano that will be generated by your new bat colony. You wouldn’t want to hang the house over doors or windows or over protruding brick or stone work.
Metal buildings are fine if properly attached to the metal so the fasteners don’t pull through. Also check the temperature of the house as metal will reflect and dissipate heat quicker than other materials. A larger house would probably be best as it will serve to moderate the temperature shifts more effectively.
NEVER hang a bat house on any active service pole of any kind. Poles abandoned in place by the power company may make a good mount but you should check with the authority that owns the pole to make sure it is OK. Unless they transfer ownership of the pole to you, they have the right to come remove it at any time.
Is it OK to move the house with bats in it?
No, never attempt to handle or move a house with an active colony in it. It is never a good idea to handle wildlife without the proper training or equipment. While bats do NOT aggressively attack people they can bite if they feel threatened. You could disrupt the colony so it moves or even abandons young pups. The proper time to handle a bat house is during the winter when the bats are not present. If a house falls or is damaged with bats present you should wait for them to leave or seek professional advice before attempting to handle it. Your local Department of Natural Resources should have a wildlife agent able to help.
Why are your houses so large?
Our smallest bat house is actually close to the smallest bat house design that BCI (Bat Conservation International www.batcon.org ) will certify. It exceeds the minimum dimensions required to produce what research suggests is the preferred minimum size by bats. We follow their guidelines and suggestions closely and work with BCI concerning any potential design changes or improvements to our houses. Smaller houses simply are not as effective in housing colonies.
I need to repaint my house, what kind of paint should I use?
If you need to repaint your house due to damage or just to try a different color be sure to use a high quality exterior grade latex paint. We suggest priming first with a high quality water based primer before your color coat. Remember, this should be done soon after the bats leave during the fall to give the paint ample time to cure and loose its odor. Also, be sure to inspect the house closely before handling it even in the winter. Some species of bats, like the Big Brown Bat, can roost and go into a torpor (sort of a hibernation) in buildings, bat houses and even farm equipment during the winter. They can come out to feed during moderate winter periods and return to sleep again when it cools. In January it is rare but we’ve seen temperatures in the 70’sin Georgia. During those times I have witnessed bats out and about as well as flying insects. Again, it is rare but those bats were hibernating somewhere near by and shouldn’t be disturbed.
Why do you think cut grooves are so much better?
We hear this question a lot. The primary reason bat house builders generally resort to a mesh or rely on “rough cedar” is due to the labor involved in mechanically grooving a roosting surface. While a mesh properly applied every time makes a suitable roosting surface it represents a compromise on the part of the builder. No matter how well applied is subject to possible separation. This can create a potential that bats could become entangled in the mesh if it came loose. As for the rough cedar theory, an unsurfaced cedar board varies in roughness and the final actual roostable area inside a rough cedar house is therefore variable. Any smooth areas and large knots represent an area that bats would find difficult to cling. We made a decision that we would not compromise but would instead use only mechanical grooves to create a consistent and reliable roosting surface. This decision required us to invest in CNC equipment to do the job. In doing so we have the ability to construct quality safe houses that are consistent and the same every time. This guarantees a high quality house for all customers and commercial or government customers can be assured as they buy houses over time the appearance and quality of the houses will remain constant.
How to Attract Bats to Your Backyard
Published on May 9, 2017
There are many reasons for wanting bats in your backyard. Whether it’s to benefit from their pollination services, pest control, or you just simply enjoy their nightly displays of aerial acrobatics, consider these three tips for attracting bats to your backyard.
Leave Dead Trees
For many species of bats, dead trees provide the crème de la crème of roosting locations. The narrow, rough space between the bark and the wood provides the ideal space for a bat (or few) to squeeze in nice and tight. If a dead tree does not pose a safety concern, consider leaving it in your yard to provide protected refuge for bats and the insects they eat.
Dead tree not an option? Give the bats the next best thing – a bat house to mimic the space and habitat that a dead tree would normally provide.
Build or Buy a Bat House
Courtesy of Selena Kiser
Building your own bat house is a great way to get involved in bat conservation. Bat Conservation International (BCI) has designs for three different types of roosts freely available on our website: single chamber, four-chamber, and rocket boxes.
Make sure to check out our website for additional tips and tricks for building your own bat house.
Opting to buy a house instead? Check out this list of certified vendors who can get you set up with the house for your new batty neighbors.
Once you have your bat house, check out BCI’s installation tips.
BCI has learned many lessons during out 10-year Bat House Research Project. But remember, though we have developed best practices based on years of experimentation, please don’t feel you can’t have a bat house if your conditions are not exactly like the ones we suggest.
Here are some tips to get you started….
1. Where should I place my bat house?
Bats prefer roosts mounted on buildings or other large wooden or concrete structures to those mounted on poles or on trees (not recommended). But pole mounts work well in climates that are moderate to hot, without extreme variance between day and night temperatures.
Bat houses should receive at least six hours of daily sun exposure.
2. How many should I install?
If more than one roost is desired, begin by testing a few in different places. You can mount them next to each other on a building, painted or stained different colors, or on poles back-to-back, a light one facing north and a darker one south. Bats are more likely to move into roosts grouped three or more together.
3. How high should the house be?
Best siting is 20’-30’ from the nearest trees and at least 10’ (from the bottom of the roost)—12’-20’ is better—above ground (or above the tallest vegetation beneath the bat house). Locations nearest an area’s largest water sources are the most successful—preferably ¼ mile or less.
Keep Fluffy Indoors
We all love our furry feline friends, but cat attacks are one of the most common causes of bat casualties. Keep your cat indoors at night, especially during the summer months when the mothers are taking care of their young. If you are unable to keep your cat inside all night, bring it in about a half hour before sunset until an hour after sunset – this is when bats are most active. If your cat has found a bat, s/he may have learned where the roost is and will return – which places the entire colony at risk.
Attract Bats for Organic Insect Control
Bats are the most misunderstood of our garden residents. Do these critters send a chill down your spine? If so, read on. Bats have an undeserved reputation for being bloodsucking, disease-carrying, dirty little rodents. Don’t let these myths about bats scare you — embrace them (not literally, of course) and attract them to your garden!
Why You Should Attract Bats
These little flying mammals are great hunters of mosquitoes and other annoying insects. In fact, research reveals that a single bat can eat more than 600 mosquitoes per hour. They’re a fantastic, organic pest-control method.
By creating a bat-friendly yard, you’re also doing good on a grander scale. Like many species, bat populations are declining due to pesticide use and habitat loss.
How to Attract Bats
Like birds, bats prefer a source of shelter and they’ll often hang out in old trees and large shrubs. Bats nest in abandoned buildings, hollow trees, under a building’s eves, in loose tree bark, and in bat houses. Bats also enjoy water features, such as ponds, where insects may congregate.
Planting night-blooming flowers will help attract bats (and give your yard another level of beauty). Some great night-bloomers include datura, moonflower, four-o’clock, yucca, evening primrose, night-blooming water lily, night-blooming jessamine, cleome, and nicotiana.
Enjoy a Moon Garden
Like any mammal, bats can catch rabies. But they’re not as likely to catch the disease as many other animals — and even if they do, you’re less likely to come into contact with them. (That said, never handle a bat or any other wild animal in your yard.)
According to the Organization for Bat Conservation, bats are not inclined to chew holes in your home’s attic. However, they will find openings and nest in attics if they can.
And no, bats won’t suck your blood. Most North American species prefer to dine on insect pests (such as bloodsucking mosquitoes). A few bat species are even important pollinators and feed off the pollen and nectar of flowers.
Build a Bat House
Bat houses are a great way to provide habitat for bats. Use a rough, nontoxic wood (such as plywood or cedar) to make your box. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house.
Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Hang them 10 to 15 feet above the ground and place them in a sunny spot where they can absorb lots of heat during the day. (Painting the boxes black is helpful.) Mount bat houses on poles, buildings, or other structures.
Attracting Bats to Your Yard and Garden
Bats are quickly becoming welcome guests around yards and farms as research has shown bats to be excellent eradicators of pesky insects (like mosquitoes), essential in healthy ecosystems. This belief resulted in the systematic eradication of bats for decades, especially in the US. Because of this, several species of bats are still considered threatened species. If you’ve been interested in the idea of attracting bats to your yard and garden, create an inviting space for bats to visit.
Studies done by Colorado State University have shown that provided the same method of attraction, bats are still less likely to set up residence in areas that are in suburban and urban areas when compared to rural areas. But, the positive ecological impact bats have on all of these areas is extremely important, so if you live in a suburban or urban area attracting bats to your garden is of special importance.
The first step in attracting bats to your yard requires an understanding of what bats need in their everyday lives. Because the bats that live in the US are primarily insectivores and feed at night, attracting insects that are active at night is critical if you want to attract bats to your home. Here’s how to attract more insects to your yard at night:
- Bats eat lots and lots of bugs. This is probably the most overlooked and important aspect of attracting lots of bats. This means adding night-blooming plants to your landscape is essential. These night bloomers bloom at night so they can be pollinated by night insects – most notably moths. Moths are a bat favorite and a staple in their diets. Lots of gardeners report seeing moths among their annual devil’s trumpets (datura), as well as brugmansia (you can grow these as landscape plants in the south, but they make great tropical potted plants everywhere else). Try adding some potted night blooming plants like datura, Brugmansia, yucca, jessamine, butterfly bushes, lavender, rosemary and evening primrose to your deck, or among your perennial borders to attract lots of bat food.
- Lights are bug magnets. This is an easy way to bring bats to your property. But you may live in an area that has plenty of lights that are kept illuminated at night. This isn’t a necessary step, but it can help attract insects if you don’t already have a lot of lights that are on at night. A simple lamp kept on outside of a garage is all you need, for example. The light doesn’t have to be a specific type, as long as it’s an appropriate light for the outdoors.
Attracting bats to your farm and yard is good as they are night time predators of night flying insects that damage garden plants and crops. Bat houses are becoming very popular as a way to entice bats to stay close by. Buy a bat house for your backyard. We have 4 sizes to choose from. Our bat house kit makes a great starter bat house. You can put this great kit together during a weekend project with the family.
Bat House Location: How To Attract Bats To A Bat House To The Garden
Bats are victims of bad PR. They carry rabies. They tangle in your hair, suck the blood from their victims and turn into vampires on dark and stormy nights. Poor bats! Their unwarranted reputations have been the result of bad press and worse movies. Most of the myths you’ve heard are simply untrue. The truth is, attracting bats to your backyard is one of the safest and most efficient methods out there for natural insect control. One little brown bat can eat 1,200 insects per hour. Now imagine what a small colony can do!
One of the best ways of attracting bats to your yard is by building a bat house. Learning how to attract bats to a bat house takes a little effort, but it’s definitely worth it. Just think about how pleasant it will be to sit outside on a balmy, bug-free summer night watching the swoops and dips and squeaks of your very own nighttime entertainment. That’s what building a bat house can offer.
Bat House Location: How to Attract Bats to a Bat House
You’re bat house’s location is one of the most important factors in how to attract bats to a bat house. Bat house plans abound, but the best plans in the world won’t be attracting bats if it’s not in the right place.
The temperature inside the house is critical. These furry little creatures prefer temperatures between 85 to 100 F. (30 to 38 C.). Warm, sunny spots are a must for bat house locations and the color you choose will also affect the warmth or coolness of the structure. The houses should be painted brown or gray. Three coats of flat, exterior, water-based paint are best.
A house that gets only a few hours of sun a day should be painted a darker shade while a lighter color should be used on boxes with a long daily sun exposure. Many bat lovers find success in double houses either side by side or back to back, one side dark and one side light. This method allows the bats to relocate within the structure according to their needs.
Your bat house location should be within a quarter mile of a freshwater source; a pond or stream or artificial source is fine. Bats prefer a home that is supported by a pole or the side of a building and fifteen to twenty feet off the ground. These two criteria for bat house locations offer the inhabitants open, direct flight access and better protection from predators such as birds of prey and snakes. If using a pole, consider a baffle as well.
Size matters. There are many bat house plans available on the Internet and most will work in areas where a colony is already established, but if your concern is how to attract bats to a bat house where none were before, bigger is better. They offer a greater variation in interior temperatures and the space needed for females and their pups.
Bat houses can be set out at any time during the year, but since bats tend to set up their colonies in early spring, building a bat house can be a great winter project.
Bat House Plans: Building a Bat House
Now that you know how to attract bats to a bat house and have chosen your plan, it’s time to begin building. A bat house, according to extensive bat research, should have chambers at least 14 inches wide and 24 inches tall. It should have a wide landing area with a very rough surface beneath the entrance. Use ½ inch exterior plywood or cedar for the construction. Both have the rough surfaces bats need to grasp, although it doesn’t hurt to roughen the interior even more. Do not use pressure treated lumber. Modern methods of preservation that may no longer be harmful to humans may still be harmful to bats.
Bats need a waterproof environment, so regardless of your bat house plan’s instructions, it is recommended to caulk all outside seams on the walls and roof. Consider a metal or shingle clad roof. It will help keep heat in and rain out, and prolong the life of the structure.
Once you’ve chosen your bat house location and have your structure painted and hung, it’s time to look at the future. Maintenance of the house and good health practices are important, too. Any wasp nests should be cleaned out each winter and new caulk and paint should be applied every three to five years. Collect bat guano regularly with a shovel and gloved hands and dispose of it in your compost pile or garden beds. It makes a great organic fertilizer.
Lastly, please remember that these creatures are wild animals. Warn children and visitors that they are not to be caught or touched. The threat of rabies is minimal, but bats can still give a nasty bite when frightened or provoked.
Attract Beneficial Bats To Your Garden
Experts say that with all the wet weather in many parts of the country this year, most of us can expect a bad year for mosquitoes. But rather than have them ruin your outdoor activities this summer, why not invite beneficial bats to your backyard for chemical-free pest control?
More often than not, bats get a bad rap. People think of these little creatures as blood-sucking, flying rodents, and it’s quite undeserved. In fact, these night-flying mammals are gentle, do their best to avoid human contact, and actually have a lower incidence of rabies infection than other wild animals. So why would you want them lingering around your home and garden? Bats are actually great garden companions because they are wonderful at controlling unwanted pests.
Bats: Natural Pest Controller
The little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus, is the most common species of bat in North America. These bats are insectivores, meaning their diet consists primarily of insects, and luckily for us, they have a voracious appetite. Bats can greatly reduce the population of mosquitoes and other bothersome insects that ruin your backyard activities, such as moths, wasps, beetles, gnats, midges, and mayflies. A single bat can consume more than 1,200 mosquito-sized insects per hour, usually eating 6,000 to 8,000 bugs each night!
How To Attract Beneficial Bats
To take advantage of the bat’s contribution to nature there are many ways to lure bats. Bats, like all animals, need food, water, and shelter. Since your yard and garden will provide them with their favorite meal—insects—all you will need to provide is water and shelter.
Bats generally seek shelter in secluded cracks and crevices, like in hollow trees, under loose bark, in caves, or in cracks of rocky ledges. In more populated areas they can bunk in attics, behind shutters, and in storm sewers. Bats are not inclined to chew holes in your home’s attic. However, if there are holes, they can gain access. Basically, bats like dark, tight, warm spots.
Fun Fact: Baby bats are called “pups”
Bat houses can be purchased at many home and garden centers or can be easily built in an afternoon. There are many how-to web sites, as well as free downloadable bat house plans available on the internet.
Bats also need a clean and accessible water source. They usually swoop down over open bodies of water to take a drink, such as lakes, ponds or streams. Consider building a garden pond with small plants on opposite sides. If you are short on space, a raised birdbath in an open space may suffice.
Bats feed on insects that are active at night, so in order to attract those insects, it may be beneficial to include plants that bloom at night or that have a pronounced nighttime fragrance, such as Evening Primrose, moonflower, datura, four-o’clock primrose, night-blooming water lily, night-blooming Jessamine, cleome, and nicotiana.
Bottom Line: Don’t let the myths of these nocturnal mammals turn you off. These misunderstood creatures can be of great use to control pest populations in your garden. Respect the bat’s ecological importance and consider making a place for them in your backyard.
Learn more facts about bats here!
4 Ways to Attract Bats to a Bat House in Your Backyard
Having no luck attracting bats to a bat house set up in your backyard? Try these four simple tricks to make it happen. Having bats as neighbors can be extremely beneficial as they can help keep the mosquito population down.
How to Attract Bats to a Bat House
1. Check the Bat House Positioning
It may all come down to the positioning of the bat house. Your bat house might be having trouble attracting bats because it’s positioned too low or it’s not getting enough sunlight throughout the day. Here are some things to look out for when you install your bat house.
Height: according to Bat Conservation International (BCI), bat houses should be mounted at least 10 feet above ground. The optimal height is between 12 to 20 feet.
Sunlight: bat houses work best when they get at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. This helps create a favorable temperature inside the bat house. The ideal temperature is between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lighting: keep the bat house away from light fixtures, such as outdoor lamps and security lights. Bat houses should not be installed near a porch or balcony.
Trees: bat houses can be installed on trees but they don’t necessarily provide an ideal environment because of three reasons: bat house could receive less sunlight among the branches, bats could become more vulnerable to predators, and the tree branches could become obstructive to a bat’s flight path.
2. Importance of Water
Bat colonies are most often found near sources of water (e.g. ponds, lakes, slow-flowing streams). The closer the bat house is to your area’s largest water source, the better your chances of attracting bats to the bat house.
3. Grow Night-Scented Flowers
Grow night-scented flowers that attract night-flying insects like moths. Bats can eat a wide variety of insects including mosquitoes, moths, chinch bugs, and beetles.
We recommend looking at flowers like evening primrose, honeysuckle, goldenrod, and fleabane. Did you know that certain species of bats are great pollinators?
4. Importance of Timing
You can install the bat house any time during the year but you are likely to have more success during spring and early summer. Don’t expect bats to move in straight away. According to BCI, 90% of occupied bat houses were used within two years. Patience is key.
Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.
How to Lure a Bat Into a Bat Box
Bats make a positive contribution to your backyard environment.
Select the appropriate color for your bat house. Bat researchers have learned that bats prefer painted or stained homes. Painted bat houses not only last longer but also maintain the appropriate temperature for the bats to roost comfortably. Your geographic location and the amount of sun exposure the house receives in summer months determine the color. In areas where the average daily temperatures in July remain under 85 degrees Fahrenheit, black does a good job of retaining heat. On the other hand, if you live in a region where July temperatures typically soar to 100 degrees and above, white reflects light, keeping the bat’s home from overheating. If you live in an area with July temperatures somewhere between these two extremes, choose a medium shade, going darker or lighter depending on where you place on the temperature spectrum.
Mount the house in a suitable location. Bats tend to favor homes that receive plenty of sunlight, so the house should face south, southwest or southeast. Make sure the home is at least 10 feet above ground level, and that no branches or other obstructions can interfere with bats easily entering and exiting the structure. You can hang the bat house on a pole, a tree or the side of a building.
Add some bat-friendly features. Bats like a nearby night light that will attract bugs for them to eat. They need water, so are more likely to choose a house with a nearby pond, stream or even a bird bath. A bit of bat guano smeared on the bat home will pique their curiosity and they will come to investigate the scent.
Keep the bat house safe from predators. Consider the placement of the house in relation to branches and other possible perches from which a raccoon, snake or cat might reach into the bat house. If you hang the bat house on a tree trunk, attach a 2-foot-wide band of sheet metal around the tree, as you would to protect a bird feeder.