The Pros and Cons of Bats
As the sun sets in the evening, you may have seen bats swooping low in your yard. Whether or not you like bats doesn’t really matter- they are out there and as long as they stay out of your hair, hopefully, you won’t have to deal with them! But there are some pros and cons of having bats on your property. Here are some of the pros and cons of bats in your backyard.
The Pros of Having Bats:
Bats are nature’s insect control. They eat mosquitoes all night long, also binging on moths, wasps, beetles, gnats, midges, mayflies and other insects. The little brown bat is one of the most common bats in North America and these insectivores can catch up to 600 insects an hour!
Guano, which is another name for bat droppings, can be beneficial for your garden! Guano is rich in nitrogen and is considered an excellent fertilizer. There are even some enzymes in bacteria in guano that scientists have found to be good when added to cleaning agents, including laundry soaps (we’ll leave that to the scientists to keep testing).
Bats are pollinators. They move pollen grains from flower to flower, which helps to pollinate flowers and plants.
Bats help distribute the seeds of many different kinds of plants, including bananas, mangoes, cashews, dates, avocados, peaches and figs, just to name a few.
The Cons of Having Bats:
Bats may take up residence in your home to raise their young. When they do this, they become a problem on your property, causing damage to your structure and leaving bat droppings throughout your attic and on your home.
Although not typical, bats can spread rabies. This disease can be dangerous for you and for your pets. They are not usually aggressive mammals but may bite if manhandled.
Bat guano can spread histoplasmosis. This illness primarily affects the lungs; it is spread by breathing in a fungus that grows in accumulated guano.
They can introduce other bugs into your home, like bat bugs.
Common Types of Bats
Common bats that people come into contact with include little brown bats and big brown bats. They are quite similar in appearance and behavior and as you can gather from their name, but big brown bats are the larger of the two. As mentioned before, bats are a great source of natural pest control to help control mosquito and other insect populations on your property. There is a lot of fear surrounding bats and their bites. Old myths of bats being related to vampires cause quite a bit of fear around these creatures. And while it is true that bats can bite and they can spread disease such as rabies, it does not mean that they are vampire-like creatures we should fear when outside. They will rarely attack a human unless provoked.
How to Inspect Your Home for Bats
To inspect your home thoroughly, pay attention to loose tiles, vents, chimneys, fascia boards, where soffits meet your roofline, and anywhere else there may be a hole. Bats can squeeze through the tiniest of spaces. Seal up all openings by using a caulking gun or by putting netting over vents and other similar openings.
Everything to Know About Bat Removal
Never seen a bat with your own two eyes? That’s probably because they are nocturnal. Covered by the black cloak of night, bats provide a very important service to our ecosystem by feeding on insects like mosquitoes, and bugs that damage crops like certain moths and beetles.
Unfortunately there is a housing crisis in the bat community, and they are desperately looking for a new place to stay. Bats usually live in caves or hollow trees, but those habitats are harder to come by than they used to be as a response to industrialization. This means that bats are actively searching for similar conditions to live in, which can oftentimes be your attic.
You’re Hearing Noises
The only noises you should be hearing from your attic are proper functioning of heating and air machines, and the natural fluctuation of the ductwork in your house as a response to changing temperatures throughout the day. Any scratching, banging, scurrying, or chirping is a tell-tale sign of wildlife living in the attic. Bats are known to communicate and search for food by making chirping sounds.
You’re Seeing Things
If you notice any bats flying around in the early morning or late night, that means there are definitely bats in your area. If your attic is left vulnerable they could find their way inside and make a home there.
You’re Finding Scratches, Stains, and Droppings
If your attic has been harboring bats, or other wildlife, you are likely to find the remains of their actions. Their droppings, or guano, will be littered all over and putting off a foul odor. Their scratching and scurrying is sure to leave marks in your home as well. They are also covered in a greasy coat that will leave grease stains around areas it touches in your home.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bats
Are bats mammals?
Yes, bats are mammals, as they are warm-blooded, give live birth, produce milk, and have fur. Bats have many unique features that truly set them apart from most other mammals, such as the ability to fly and use echolocation to navigate and find food at night.
Are bats blind?
No, bats are not blind. In fact, most bats can see very well. Coupled with a specialized honing sense called echolocation, they are fierce predators of insects.
How big are most bats?
Most bats are small, with body lengths of 2 to 3 inches, and with wing spans ranging from 8 to 15 inches. For example, it would take 10 tricolored bats, smallest bat, to equal the weight of 1 large chicken egg. While individuals of largest bat, the bonneted bat, would each weigh slightly less than a large chicken egg
When are bats most active?
All bats are nocturnal, which means they are active at night. They are easily seen at dusk or at night while foraging for insects. While it is uncommon to see a bat during the day, it is not unusual to hear them chirping within the roost
How long can bats live?
Most small mammals have very short lives (often only 1 year), but bats are the exception and have relatively long lives. One study showed that bats live on average about 4 years, while another study showed bats may live about 16 years on average. The maximum lifespan reported for bats in the wild is more than 30 years. But, we know lifespans of bats vary depending on the species and their life history. For example, bats that roost (sleep) in caves tend to live longer than bats that roost in trees. Bats that have more than one pup per litter tend to have shorter average lifespans than those with only one pup per litter.
WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Why are bats dying in North America?
An estimated 6.7 million bats have died since 2006 because of an outbreak of white-nose syndrome, a fast-moving disease that has wiped out entire colonies and left caves littered with the bones of dead bats. The epidemic is considered the worst wildlife disease outbreak in North American history and shows no signs of slowing down. It threatens to drive some bats extinct and could do real harm to the pest-killing services that bats provide, worth billions of dollars each year, in the United States.
What is white-nose syndrome, and how does it kill bats?
White-nose syndrome is the result of a fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans that invades and ingests the skin of hibernating bats, including their wings. It causes bats to wake up more frequently during the winter, using up their limited fat reserves very rapidly. Massive destruction of wing tissue may lead to disruption of bats’ water and electrolyte balance, and it could be the actual cause of death. Some bats may survive a winter with white-nose syndrome only to subsequently succumb in the spring, when their immune systems kick into overdrive, attacking the fungal invader and their own tissues at the same time. Dead or dying bats are frequently observed with a white fuzz around their muzzles, hence the name “white-nose syndrome.”
How deadly is it?
Typically the disease kills 70 percent to 90 percent of bats in an affected hibernaculum (the area where bats gather to hibernate for the winter). In some cases, the mortality rate has been 100 percent, wiping out entire colonies. Some caves that once hosted hundreds of thousands of bats are now virtually empty.
Does it affect all bats in North America?
So far, white-nose syndrome appears to affect only bats that hibernate, which make up about half of the 45 bat species in the United States. Pollinating bats and long-distance migrants that don’t hibernate don’t seem to be affected.
How many bat species have been affected, and which ones are they?
Thirteen species (including three on the federal endangered species list ) have been affected by the disease. The following species have been infected by white-nose syndrome: little brown bat (once the most common bat in the eastern United States), northern long-eared bat (threatened), tricolored bat, Indiana bat (endangered), the big brown bat, eastern small-footed bat, and gray bat (endangered). The fungus has also been found on, but has not yet infected, a number of other species, including the cave bat
Are bats dangerous?
All healthy bats try to avoid humans by taking flight and are not purposely aggressive. Most bats are about the size of a mouse and use their small teeth and weak jaws to grind up insects. You should avoid handling bats because several species, such as the hoary and big brown bats, have large teeth that can puncture skin if they are handled improperly
Less than one percent of the bat population contracts rabies, which is a much lower rate of incidence than other mammals. Still, you should not handle or disturb bats, especially those that are active and appear sick during daylight hours. All bat bites should be washed immediately with soap and water, and a physician should be consulted.
Where do bats live?
Bats can be found in almost all parts of the world and in most regions of the United States. In general, bats seek out a variety of daytime retreats such as caves, rock crevices, old buildings, bridges, mines, and trees. Different species require different roost sites
Why are bats important?
By eating insects, bats save U.S. agriculture billions of dollars per year in pest control. Some studies have estimated that service to be worth over $3.7 billion per year, and possibly as much as $53 billion. This value does not, however, take into account the volume of insects eaten by bats in forest ecosystems and the degree to which tha
What do bats eat?
Bats are the most significant predators of night-flying insects. There are at least 40 different kinds of bats in the U.S. that eat nothing but insects. A single little brown bat, which has a body no bigger than an adult human’s thumb, can eat 4 to 8 grams (the weight of about a grape or two) of insects each night