Homeowners and property managers often overlook the need for pest control in the winter months. …
We thought we would highlight a spooky Halloween-like topic with Halloween just around the corner. Let’s look at bats, how they get into your homes, and what can be done to keep them out. Boo!
What is a bat?
Right off the bat (ha-ha), let’s talk about these winged creatures and share some fun facts courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
- There are over 1,400 species of bats worldwide. They can be found on nearly every part of the planet except in extreme deserts and polar regions. The U.S. and Canada are home to about 45 species, and additional species are found in the U.S. territories in the Pacific and Caribbean.
- Not all bats hibernate. Even though bears and bats are the two most well-known hibernators, not all spend their winter in caves. Some species, like the spotted bat, survive by migrating in search of food to warmer areas when it gets chilly.
- Bats have few natural predators, and disease is one of the biggest threats. Owls, hawks, and snakes eat bats, but that’s nothing compared to millions dying from white-nose syndrome. The disease — named for a white fungus on the muzzle and wings — affects hibernating bats and has been detected in 37 states and seven Canadian provinces.
- Night insects have the most to fear from bats. Bats can eat their body weight in insects each night, numbering in the thousands! This insect-heavy diet helps foresters and farmers protect their crops from pests.
- Bats are the only flying mammals. While the flying squirrel can only glide for short distances, bats are true fliers. Their wings resemble a modified human hand — imagine the skin between your fingers larger, thinner, and stretched. This flexible skin membrane that extends between each long finger bone and many movable joints makes bats agile fliers.
- Bats may be small, but they’re fast little creatures. According to new research, how fast a bat flies depends on the species, but they can reach speeds over 100 miles per hour.
- Dogs aren’t the only ones with pups. Baby bats are called pups, and a group of bats is a colony. Like other mammals, mother bats feed their pups breastmilk, not insects. Most bats give birth to a single pup!
- Innies or Outies? Humans aren’t the only ones with belly buttons. With a few exceptions, nearly all mammals have navels because of mom’s umbilical cord, and bats are no different. Now the real question is: Innies or outies?
- The longest-living bat is 41 years old. It’s said that the smaller the animal, the shorter its lifespan, but bats break that rule of longevity. Although most bats live less than 20 years in the wild, scientists have documented six species that live more than 30 years. In 2006, a tiny bat from Siberia set the world record at 41 years.
- Did you know that many bats cannot take off from the ground or floor, which can give you the upper hand in trapping one? Said Joy M. O’Keefe, a former director of the Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation at Indiana State University. (NY Times)
How do bats get into your house?
Somewhat like a mouse, they can enter your home through an entry point as small as 3/8 of an inch! Typical entry points include air ducts or vent covers, loose chimney caps, gaps in your siding, broken attic windows, or slightly open windows. Bats are very fast and can enter behind a homeowner, passing virtually undetected.
How do you bat-proof your home?
Bat-proofing a structure is the best way to prevent an infestation, and the best time to bat-proof is after they have left for their hibernation periods in the autumn. Attempting to bat-proof at any other time raises the possibility of boxing in babies, who will then look for other parts of the house to escape.
At dusk, homeowners should inspect the home’s exterior and observe where they enter and exit. Common access points include attic louvers and under-facia boards. It is recommended that homeowners seal any cracks or crevices with caulk and steel wool. Pay special attention to holes in the structure that lead to dark, secluded areas, like attics and belfries. Also, screen attic vents and openings to chimneys and install door sweeps. Exclusion is the only method to keep bats out in the long term. (pestworld.org)
Are bats dangerous to humans and pets?
No, bats are not inherently dangerous and are beneficial to humans in several important ways:
- They consume night-flying insects
- They are indicators of air quality and ecological health
- They pollinate and disperse the seeds of many ecologically and economically significant plants.
However, they do not attack people. They may fly alarmingly near in pursuit of a mosquito, giving the appearance of swooping to attack.
However, there are two diseases carried by bats that may be transmitted to humans—histoplasmosis, caused by the fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum, and rabies, caused by a virus. Humans may contract histoplasmosis by breathing fungal spores. This fungus is sometimes present in guano (the fecal droppings of bats and birds).
Rabies is a serious disease most often transmitted through a bite. It is fatal if post-exposure treatment is not begun immediately after a bite from a rabid animal. Rabies may be transmitted when infected saliva, or nervous tissue comes in contact with open wounds or mucous membranes of the nose or mouth. (NC Museum of Natural Sciences)
How to Get Rid of Bats
Homeowners should contact a licensed pest professional if an active bat infestation is suspected, as the problem often cannot be controlled with do-it-yourself measures. Many states also have laws protecting bat species, and removal may require a special license or approval. (pestworld.org)
All Pest Proz is a family-owned and operated business licensed by the DEC and certified with New York State. We care about our customers, nature, and the environment and strive to keep our customers safe and pest-free without disrupting wildlife and nature. Contact us to learn more about our services and how All Pest Proz can protect your family and pets from pest and wildlife infestations.