Hanging a Bat House
Getty Images: Westhoff

Why Hanging a Bat House Right Now Is a Great Idea

It's one of the easiest, most environmentally-friendly ways to control biting bugs.

These night hunting, insect devouring mammals are so valuable that they are considered a keystone species in many areas and have evolved as some of the most important pollinators and fertilizers known to man. Bats are one of the most beneficial insect eating machines in North America and if you didn't know: you definitely want them around your house.

Since most species of bat hunt almost exclusively after dark to hunt pesky biting insects that annoy us humans, it is not a bad idea to keep them happy and coming back every year. Not only do they control mosquitos and black flies, but they can take care of some of the most damaging and invasive insects known to man.

There are many tried and true methods to invite some of these great insect predators into your yard to dine on the things that are trying desperately to dine on you. Here is a great way to teach the kids about the effectiveness of natural methods of taking care of both the environment and ourselves. Trust us, you won't regret setting up your own bat house in the yard.

Best Time To Hang a Bat House

Properly installing a bat roost box so that you can attract these pest control specialists to your property is a great way to be ready for their return in the early spring. That's the time of the year they are looking for new areas to roost.

The best time to hang a bat house is just before or during (if it is safe) the winter. That's just so the structure can climatize and lose any scents from yourself or the materials the box is made from. You want the bat box to begin to blend into the local environment as soon as possible.

If you can have your bat roost box up by March, the better since they will begin to emerge from their hibernation and make their way towards their summer roosting sites.

Best Locations

There are two main locations to consider for bat house installation: on a pole, or on a structure such as a barn or even on your home. We should note that the organization Bat Conservation International says bat house placement on trees is a bad idea. Mostly because predators can ambush bats from the tree branches above. However, as the video above notes, mounting a bat house on a building also gives them more room to take flight each evening. When mounted on a house, they say it can also provide some insulation. Since most of the North American bat species need somewhere around 85-degrees Fahrenheit to retain their body heat and keep their young warm, facing the roost box roughly south to southeast is best if possible. This helps the box get the most possible sunlight, especially for those mornings which can still be a little frosty in the spring time.

Another option is to mount your bat box on a pole. Whatever method you choose, it is quite important that your roost box is hung at least 14 to 20 feet above the ground with little or no obstacles in their way to impede them from swooping in and out at their leisure as hanging branches from a nearby tree may cause the animals to bypass the area for a different location.

Also, water is a great draw for bats, both since it attracts bugs and for the bats themselves. One last tip, be sure to paint your new bat house properly for the region where you live. Again, the video above gives some hints on that. Depending on the climate where you live, you'll either do best with a dark color in northern climates or a lighter one in southern ones to help regulate the internal temperature of the box.

Pole Mounted Boxes

A pole-mounted bat house is a great community project, simply meaning that it is a good way to get your younger outdoorsmen and ladies involved. It does take a bit more work, materials, money, and labor to do it, but the rewards are great and they can be strategically placed anywhere you want. This also provides the opportunity to double up on single-chamber bat houses by placing them back to back, potentially doubling the number of helpful pest control critters.

Structure-Mounted Boxes

If you've ever had a friend, family member, or co-worker that has had bats get into their attic then you'll completely understand why some folks have a mistaken idea about these little bug devouring creatures. Side wall mounted bat houses are quite attractive to bats since they eliminate drafts, keep the temperature better balanced, and provide a wide open swooping area for the animals to leave and enter. It's best to stick the box up right under the eaves of the roof to provide even more protection.

Diminishing the Misconceptions About Bats

One of the biggest misunderstandings about bats is that they are not rodents, but mammals. Depending on the location, bats gather in their colonies and give birth to live young around May or into June. Also, some bat species hibernate, some migrate, and some do both, but they all will be on the hunt for a good posting location once the bug-eating season really arrives.

Bats are well known for their echolocation or 'radar' but they actually have very good eyesight and they not all rabid, but like any wild animal can become so. Having a population of bats near to your home can help you to avoid the use of chemical pesticides, and we can all get behind that.

Not only that, but bats are quickly seeing their habitat wiped out across North America. That makes this a conservation issue. Like it or not, these little guys are a part of our natural world, and they can use all the help they can get right now. Hanging a bat house is just another way you can help contribute to the preservation of our natural world.

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