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Bats are an unsung hero in the animal world. They play a vital ecological role, contributing both to our economy and the health of our environment. Bats are the most organic form of pest control.
A single brown bat can eat between 600-1000 flying insects in one hour and up to 5000 insects in one evening. Bats pollinate and disperse seeds of many valuable crops including bananas, sugar, corn, cotton, and agave. Bat guano can be used as a natural fertilizer. Many farms and home gardeners even install bat houses to take advantage of the beneficial bat.
The largest occupied bat houses in the world are located at the University of Florida across from Lake Alice. It is estimated that these bat houses provide shelter for almost 500,000 bats who consume more than 2,500 pounds of insects nightly.
However, when there are bats in your area, preventative steps should be taken so that they do not instead roost inside your home. Bats can enter your home through holes and crevices as small as ½”. If you can fit your pinky finger in a hole, it is large enough for a bat to enter. When bats roost in your home, they will usually be found in the structural voids, the areas between the exterior and the interior of the building.
Despite the benefits of bats, if a large colony of bats is roosting in your attic, you will need to learn how to get rid of bats and clean and disinfect the area. Allowing bats to live in your attic is not the optimum choice. Bats are known vectors of rabies and other deadly diseases. A bat suffering from rabies will show symptoms of the disease. When they are infected with rabies their behavior is erratic out of the ordinary.
Almost always, if a bat is found on the ground during the day, it will test positive for rabies. They are more likely to have contact with humans when sick and will bite if they are picked up. Even if a rabid bat dies in your attic, the rabies virus in the carcass is believed to remain active well into the decomposition process.
There is no cure for rabies once symptoms develop in humans and it is almost 100% fatal. This is why stopping bats from nesting in homes is the best method for protecting public health. If you, your pets, or family have possible contacted a bat seek medical attention immediately.
Bat guano that accumulates when bats roost in your attic, poses a risk of disease and further insect infestation. The fungus that causes histoplasmosis, a serious lung disease, is found in bat feces (guano).
Histoplasmosis may be caused by casual inhalation of these fungal spores, but allowing bat guano to accumulate in your home increases the changes for contracting this disease. The presence of bat guano in your attic, allows other bacteria to grow and reproduce. Bat guano accumulations can create safety hazards on steps, floors, and ladders, and has even collapsed ceilings.
The presence of bats in your home encourages the proliferation of other insects. We are well aware of cockroaches’ affinity for sewers and feces. Roaches and other insects are attracted to the large piles of droppings from bats. General cockroach control will be a challenge in a home with piles of bat guano.
A lessor known byproduct of bats are bat bugs. Bat bugs, Cimex adjunctus, are in the same family as bed bugs, but bat bugs prefer to suck the blood of bats where bed bugs prefer to feast on humans. However, if bats are not available, bat bugs will bite a human or other animals. Both bed bugs and bat bugs need a blood meal to reproduce. To the naked eye these 2 insects look nearly identical, but under a microscope they can be distinguished by an Entomologist. Once bats are removed as a host, bat bugs can thrive if they establish a family pet or a person as a new host. Bat bugs can infest a home similarly to bed bugs and need to be treated quickly.
The urine and feces from a single bat is relatively odorless. However, the odor of accumulated urine and bat feces from many bats can become overwhelming.
Bat urine crystalizes quickly in room temperature conditions; in hot environments like an attic bat urine crystalizes quickly enough to cause accumulations. In attics with large bat populations, the wooden beams can be covered in whiteish coating and may eventually form stalagmite and stalactite like formations of crystalized bat urine. Bat urine may cause wood deterioration in attic beams. When disease festering bat guano is mixed with this deteriorating wood, the air quality throughout the home decreases and a health crisis may be imminent.
While bats should be protected and appreciated for their contributions, they should not be permitted to remain inside of human structures. The public health risks are simply too great. They should be expertly and humanely excluded. A professional in bat removal does not harm, hurt, or even handle the bats. In order to preserve the bats, but also protect your home, we recommend you contact a bat removal professional.
Once you verify bats are roosting in your attic, do not disturb them. Never touch a bat; they can carry rabies and when scared they are likely to bite. Because of their beneficial contributions, many states regulate the removal and exclusion of bats. Some species of bats are federally protected as well. Restrictions on bat exclusion are most stringent during pup-rearing season. During this time, the bat pups are too young to fly and may become trapped in the structure and die.
The only approved method of removing bats from inside a structure is to exclude or evict them. It is illegal to kill or harm bats in any way. It is illegal to trap and relocate bats. It is illegal to use repellents, poisons or fumigants to kill bats. You may not harass bats with lights or noise to try to “shoo” them out of your home.
Nextgen Pest Solutions has branch offices in Georgia and Florida. To educate our customers, we will specifically look at these two states.
If a single bat ends up in your garage or your home, it was likely lost or confused. Often the bat will try to get out on its own. Do not attempt to feed, pet, or capture the bat by hand. If you suspect the bat has bitten or scratched any person, seek medical attention immediately. If you are certain no one has come into contact with the single bat, you can help the bat by opening windows and exterior doors and closing doors that lead to other rooms in your home. Be sure to turn off any lights or ceiling fans in the room. Be patient and give the bat space. If the bat is not able to get out by itself, you can call a professional or try these simple steps.
If you have more than a single bat in your home, do not attempt the steps above. The number of bats in a colony ranges depending upon space and food available, but a colony of thousands of bats is not unusual. Bats are wild animals and some species are protected by federal law. Removing and cleaning up after a colony of bats is not easy, we recommend calling in professional bat removers to help you legally and safely exclude the bats from your home. Safely and permanently removing bats from a structure requires specialized knowledge and experience, patience, and attention to detail. Below is an overview of the 4 steps professionals use to get bats out and keep them out.
Inspection – Your bat professional, Pest Management Professional or Nuisance Control Wildlife Officer, will inspect your home to determine where the bats are coming and going from. There may be more than one entry/exit hole. In a proper bat eviction, every hole should be either sealed or covered by an exclusion device.
Removal – The goal of a bat exclusion, sometimes called bat eviction or removal, is to allow the bats to leave the roost but not allow them back in. There are several excluding device designs of that have proven effective for preventing bats from getting back into the roost.
One-Way Trap Door – Bat Exclusion using a One-Way Trap Door works by installing the door over any openings the bats are using for entry and exit to the structure. The trap door has netting or sheeting that is firmly attached to the top and sides of the trap door. The netting is left loose along the bottom edge and it should extend 18-24” below the exit point. This system allows bats to leave the roost but cannot reenter.
Tube System – Tubes can be used to exclude bats from small openings. They are especially useful on the corners of structures and soffits. Tubes should be at least 2” in diameter and 10” in length. There are several bat exclusion tubes commercially available, but some bat professionals prefer to make their own exclusion tubes to perfectly fit the circumstances of the structure they are working on. Bat exclusion tubes may be constructed of PVC pipe or flexible plastic tubing. The tube should be secured into the bat opening no more the ¼” into the hole. Once the tube is attached to the hole, a piece of clear plastic or netting may be attached to the outside end of the tube to further prevent bat reentry.
Once the exclusion device is placed on the holes the bats are using, they must stay on until all the bats are out of the structure. Not every bat leaves the roost every evening, especially if it is cold or rainy. For this reason, whatever device is chosen and installed, it should remain on the structure for at least 5-7 days, including 3 consecutive nights of temperatures above 50℉, winds below 10mph, and no heavy rain. If the excluding device is removed and the hole sealed too soon, bats inside will die further complicating the odor removing and clean up process.
Attic Restoration – After the all the bats have been evicted from the attic, it is time to clean up. Bat urine and guano removal and sanitization of the area is a vital step in protecting the health of your family and the structural integrity of your home. Bats eat a lot of insects, they have a high metabolism and can poop up to 30 times per day. A colony of 1000 bats will leave quite a mess behind! As discussed above, the disease, bacteria, and odor found in bat droppings and urine warrant close attention to this phase of dealing with bats in your attic. For your convenience, most professional companies that offer nuisance wildlife exclusion services, also have the knowledge, equipment, and willingness to handle the clean-up. Every situation is different, sometimes guano is taken out of the attic by the 5-gallon bucket full. Other times, bat droppings can be removed with a vacuum with a HEPA-filter. Sometimes, entire areas of insulation must be discarded and replaced. Once the bat droppings and soiled insulation are removed sanitization and odor elimination can begin. The area should be thoroughly cleaned with a disinfectant/sanitizer. These products can be sprayed into an attic with high powered sprayers that thoroughly apply the sanitizer. Additionally, enzyme-based cleaners are excellent for removing odors associated with organic matter such as urine and feces from nesting wildlife. These enzyme cleaners contain live microbes that consume the odor causing matter thus eliminating the odor. Your bat removal professional will also inform you if he sees any additional damage that may require additional professionals to repair or replace.
Exclusion – Once you are certain all of the bats have left the roost, it is time to prevent bats from coming into your attic again. Bats can fit through a hole about the size of a quarter. Bats prefer to roost in warm dark areas such as attics, eaves, pole-barns, awnings, under shingles and behind loose siding. Permanently sealing these holes will prevent a future bat colony from roosting in these areas. Discuss with your Pest Management Professional the ideal material to use during the sealing phase. Bats do not have the chewing impulse as mice and rats do. A soft material such as spray foam or caulk is sufficient to keep bats out but may not be sufficient to keep rodents out. You may choose to upgrade the exclusion material to provide protection not only against bats but mice, rats, raccoons, and squirrels.
Bats in your home can be unsettling and even intimidating. Between balancing legal requirements, ecological concerns, and the health and safety of your family, we hope we have provided you with a factually sound overview. Whether you want to Do-It-Yourself or whether you will hire a professional to remove your bats, you should always educate yourself before you make any decision. Ask questions of any company before you hire them for this important job. If you are in Florida or Georgia, call Nextgen Pest Solutions today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. We would consider it an honor to walk with you and effectively and humanely remove the bats from your house.
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