Pest control while protecting our bats
All bat species eat insects and as such do play a part in insect pest control – a single bat can eat thousands of insects each night. Bats are also considered to be one of our bio-indicator species – where there is a healthy bat population, there is a healthy local environment.
We’re just beginning to realise what that means not just for plants and wildlife present, but for us too. The health of our surroundings is closely linked with both our physical and mental well-being.
Sadly all of the bat populations have declined massively due to habitat loss and persecution. However, populations are starting to stabilise, albeit at much lower levels than originally. This article explores the role awareness and best practice within the pest control industry can have to contribute to their protection.
Which bats use buildings?
Bats are often found using buildings for roosting (somewhere to sleep, raise young etc), particularly as their natural roosting places in tree holes and caves become scarcer as they are destroyed or disturbed. Bats can use all areas of a building, however they are most commonly found in the walls, eaves and roofs. Unlike birds or rodents, bats do not make nests when roosting in buildings or cause structural damage
There are three different species of pipistrelle: the common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle and the rarer Nathusius pipistrelle. They sometimes use houses as maternity roosts, choosing confined spaces such as cavity wall voids. However, roosts are usually on the outside of buildings, using features where these crevice dwelling bats can rarely be seen, such as under hanging tiles or fascia boards.
How to identify Bats
Bats are typically small, furry creatures with long, thin wings and large ears. Their wings are hairless, but their bodies are covered in glossy brown or black fur. Even though many people believe that bats are blind, the flying mammals can see despite their relatively poor eyesight.
Signs of an infestation
Inside houses, bats can be heard rustling in attics or squeaking. Spotting their droppings on home exteriors also indicates the presence of bat infestations. Alternatively, homeowners can wait outside until dusk and watch for bats exiting attic roosts.
Attempting to handle bats can result in injury or illness. Inexperienced homeowners should never try to remove bats on their own. Instead, call the wildlife control experts at Orkin Canada. Our bat removal technicians can safely take care of bats in the attic, sanitize affected areas, and help seal the home against future bat infestations. Bats are a protected species under Canadian law, and it is best if they are managed and removed by wildlife professionals.
How to prevent Bats from invading
Seal all gaps in siding. Close all attic windows, install screening over chimneys, place screening over vents, be careful not to seal bats inside.
Ideal foraging sites for bats include open fields, marsh areas, and grasslands where they can freely hunt for insects. Bridges, caves, and rock crevices where the pests can hang from ceilings to rest during the daytime serve as the perfect roosting sites for communal species. Solitary bats may choose to roost in hollow trees or underneath overhanging ledges.
Bats: Farmers’ Secret Pest-Control Weapon
Visitors who watch the nightly exodus of Mexican free-tailed bats from Bracken Cave come for the moment when millions of bats stream from the cave’s mouth. While they do know the bats are off foraging for insect prey, they usually exclaim when they learn just how many bugs the bats can eat in a night.
“Something that always gets a lot of ‘wows’ from our visitors is when we tell them just how many tons of insects the bats are eating—mostly agricultural pests,” said Fran Hutchins, BCI’s director of the Bracken Cave Preserve. And as they munch their way through 140 to 147 tons of insects—nearly 300,000 pounds of bugs each and every night during the growing season—bats provide a huge, yet mostly hidden, service to the United States’ agricultural communities.
In this region of Texas, bats’ nightly foraging occurs over huge tracts of land planted in corn, cotton and sorghum. Their prey: primarily moths, especially the adults of corn earworm and cotton bollworm moths. With each female moth capable of laying up to 1,000 eggs, every moth consumed by a bat represents a major reduction in the millions of dollars of potential damage that could occur.
John Worth Byrd, a fourth-generation pecan grower in San Saba, Texas, is one farmer who says he does everything he can to encourage bats to forage among his trees at night, including erecting his own homemade bat houses around his orchard. Byrd also builds houses for others who are interested in doing the same.
“A bat eats one moth, and that’s 100 more pecans, in theory. If they’re doing that every night, that amounts to something,” Byrd said. “All my life, you can go out at night and there have always been bats. I don’t know how it would be without them.”
Bat Removal, Bat Control, Batproofing
Bats are not flying rodents, even though they resemble mice with wings. They have fur, give birth to live young, and are the only mammals that have achieved true flapping flight. There are almost 1,000 bat species in the world, but only a handful are native to our geographical region. They play a huge part in controlling insects, as this is their primary food source. Fall is the time of year they’re searching for hibernation sites during their mating season. This can affect you and your home and could also be a health risk.
Big brown bats will form small colonies in the summer, but normally roost alone in the winter. Female roosting sites range from barns to attics while they’re mating and birthing baby bats. Males prefer tree cavities, buildings and other cracks and crevices outdoors. It’s not rare to see Big Brown bats in below freezing temperatures, hibernating in crevices.
Little Brown bats require locations that are several degrees above freezing and have no air flow or drafts. These types of bats are known to return to the same site year after year to roost unless the site is disturbed more than once. It’s almost like they have internal homing devices! LOL.
These particular bats are of the first to come out of hibernation in the spring. The Big Brown bat will forage on insects all night long, every night, but is most active just after dusk. Little Browns prefer to hunt over water close to their roosting spots during the day, but can also be found above trees. They seem to enjoy beetles and hard-shelled bugs and will eat their entire body weight indulging in this activity. Picture this: a colony of 25 bats can eat a pound of insects each night! How’s that for “green” pest control!?!
How long does a bat live? You’re not going to believe this, but Little and Big Brown bats have proven to live up to 20 years!! That would be under natural wild circumstances though. Hibernation disturbance, accidents, intense weather, predators and even pesticide poisoning are all factors that could shorten their natural longevity.
Bats have been called “flying rats” and they have been associated with things like witches, vampires and the supernatural. Bats are actually a vital part of the ecological system of this planet and can provide a valuable service, but when they decide to make their home inside your attic they become a pest.
Fortunately, Western Exterminator professionals are experts in bat removal and prevention. We can help get rid of bat colonies that have decided that the spaces inside your home would make a good place for them to hang out. We can also identify and block access points and prevent bats from returning.
Bats are mammals, not flying rats. They are the only species of mammal capable of true flight. Most other mammals that can soar through the air usually just glide from one place to the next.
Bat wings are really evolved forearms and fingers. The “ribs” of bat wings are actually fingers they use to fly by moving those digits rather than just flapping their wings like a bird. The spaces between those fingers are covered with a thin membrane that allows bats to fly
Approximately 70% of bats are insectivores, which means that their primary food source is insects. Bats can devour huge amounts of mosquitoes and other annoying insects. Some species of bat are fruit-eaters and at least one bat species are fish-eaters. Not to mention the vampire bats that feed on blood.