Creatures of the night: Bats!

While there is such a thing as a vampire bat, they are not found within 1,500 miles of Wisconsin. Bats, when found outdoors, can be beneficial for natural pest control, as they can eat 500-1,000 mosquitoes an hour.  According to the Wauwatosa Health Department, only 3 percent of bats carry rabies.  So why do people fear bats so greatly? While only a small percentage of bats carry it, rabies is a very serious disease, and could be fatal.  Bats can also carry insect parasites, which can be left behind in their nests and could pass on to human hosts.

The hot, dry weather this spring and summer has eliminated most of the insects that these bats feed on, raising alarm for the bats’ safety.  This is one reason why you must not attempt to kill a bat if it has entered your home.  If you are bitten by a bat, a qualified pest control company should be consulted to remove the bat alive and test it for rabies.

Bats tend to enter homes in higher frequency as juvenile bats leave the brood.  If can be thought of as a teenager getting their driver’s license and finding themselves in places that they probably shouldn’t be. The bats living in the Wisconsin area are called “big brown bats”, but they can really fit in spaces as small as a quarter.  They can get into holes in window screens, cracks in the attic exterior, dryer vents, and more.  They can even swoop right through your doorway at night if you leave it open too long.  One or two bats in your home could mean they simply got in through an open window, door, or chimney.  However, it could also mean there is a whole colony of bats in your walls or attic.

A long-term solution to this potential problem would be to “bat-proof” the building.  This means sealing all bat entrances once you are sure the bats are out of the building.  Screening, steel wool, hardware cloth, cement, lumber, or caulking compound can all be used to fill the size of the opening.  Bats cannot chew or claw through closed holes. To find openings in the attic, have people observe outside around the building to watch for bats emerging in the evening.  You can also put a bright light in the attic on a dark night and look for the light from outside.

After bat-proofing, it is important to clean up the bat urine, feces, and any dead bats thoroughly, as to prevent other bats being attracted by the smell.  A surgical mask can be used to avoid breathing in dust while cleaning.  This will also protect you from breathing in a fungus from the feces that could cause a respiratory disease called histoplasmosis.  It is also important to look for bat nests.  As mentioned, bats can carry parasites called “bat bugs” that can be left behind in the nest.  They are blood-sucking insect parasites, much like bed bugs, that stay near the roosting locations of bats, but will explore the rest of the building if that bats leave.

The Wisconsin Legislature prohibits the use of pesticides for bat control, meaning bat-proofing is the best and only legal long-term solution to a bat problem.  Our pest professionals will install a one-way door on the bat access point so once the bats leave, they cannot reenter.

As always, give us a call if you are having a pest problem and we will be happy to help. Batzner Pest Management has treatment services to safely remove bats from buildings.


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