The Southern Home Bestuary: Living with our critter friends and enimies.

June 17, 2009, 8:21 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Bats       Potentially sickening        Exclude

 Bats are ecologically helpful, although not very attractive, creatures that feed on night-flying insects and  remove large numbers of flying bugs from the Southern air.  These flying mammals very often nest in colonies in old houses if they can find some dark places to shelter. Their bodies are compressible so they can get in under vinyl sidings, singles, through gaps in the weatherboarding, and the joins between chimneys and the house siding.

  The bats that make colonies are females. In the Summer they have their young. The numerous droppings that they leave can be the host for airborne fungi including those that cause histoplasmosis.  Depending on the house, you might host hundreds of bats. 

  The way to discover if you have bats is to use your nose. If they start to accumulate guano, you can smell it outside of the house, in attics and perhaps even on back porches.  They can also be seen leaving the house immediately after sunset when their exit points may be spotted. The only effective way to dealing with them is to exclude them. Moth balls may serve to help keep them out early in the season, and is worth a try to put these into the nearest places that you can reach.

 At Whitehall we once took off and replaced all of the siding and replaced it, in an effort to exclude the animals. This exclusion is best done in mid-winter after they have migrated south. If you do it while they are still there, the typical result is that they just find another way in. It is almost impossible to seal every hole in an old house.

  I put on a face mask, or even a gas mask, to vacuum up their droppings when I can get a hose to them. The best over-all approach is to discourage them when they arrive in the Spring and exclude them in the Winter. If you have got them during the Summer you are fairly well stuck with them.

 A bat will occasionally get into the house with you. I usually put a bunch of rags on the end of an arrow and shoot them with a kids’ bow and then take them outside if I cannot net and transport them. Bats can be rabid. It is best to take care to avoid bites, and kill and burn any that act strange.

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