Happy Halloween! What better time to talk about bats? Despite the revolting reputations bats have received over the years, they’re actually quite magnificent mammals that are beneficial to the ecosystem. Bats are also a wonderful method of natural pest control, often eating up to 1000 mosquitoes in an hour! With that in mind, it’s no surprise that many homeowners have chosen to help keep your ecosystem healthy and eliminate mosquitoes and other insects by building your own bat house and hanging it in your yard. It’ll also make a great addition to your haunted house when all the bats fly out of your bat house at dusk as people are heading up your walkway on Halloween or navigating their way through your spooky backyard maze.
Location of Your Bat House
The location of your bat house can either attract or scare away potential bats. Choose a location that is no farther than one-quarter of a mile away from water. This can include rivers, lakes, streams, a large bird bath, or a swimming pool. Having running water in your yard will also keep vampires that can take the form of bats away from your home as they cannot cross water. Bats also prefer to live near gardens, potted plants, or other vegetation. They seem to be enjoy living near night-blooming flowers as well. The bat house needs to be mounted either to a pole or the side of a house and at least 10-12 feet off the ground. Unfortunately, bats avoid houses that are mounted on trees and branches as it is difficult for them to navigate through branches.
Temperature of Your Bat House
Generally bats need their bat houses to average temperatures between 80º F and 100º F. And, opposite of what you might think for bats, put the bat house where it will get at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day to keep your new guests happy and comfortable. You can also use paint to affect the temperature of your bat house. Use lighter colors on the exterior of your bat house if your area is consistently over 100ºF in July to keep the bat house from overheating. If your average July temperature is less than 95º F, use darker colors. Only use black if you’re going to make it into a Batman bat house and the average July temperature in your area is 85º F or lower.
Materials and Size of Your Bat House
For the highest chance of having bats take up residence in your bat house, you’ll need to build one with at least 4-7 chambers. While more chambers will attract more bats, fewer chambers will likely leave your bat house abandoned like an old, haunted asylum. Avoid using pressure-treated wood as it contains chemicals that are harmful to bats. The sides and roof of a bat house needs to be sealed up tightly so no water or wind can get through, though the bottom of the bat house is left open so bats can fly in and guano can’t collect inside.