Rats! Bats…

“We need a bat house,” said my darling husband Jim. “Did you know that bats eat thousands of bugs every night?”

Now any creature that eats biting insects – oh, let’s face it, bugs generally – is a good creature in my book. As long as it doesn’t also eat me. So with a little investigation, I found a bat house on Amazon, made in the USA and stamped by the Audubon Society.

Rats! Bats...IMG_2010

The instructions said to hang it from a tree or pole, 8 feet from the ground, facing south, and near a water source. We had exactly one place that fit the bill – on the lattice fence around our “courtyard” off the bedroom. Since this is where the curious (stalker-ish) carpenter bees hang and hover, I wondered if bats would eat them.

One Google search later and I was much less certain about where we put the bat house.

Bat Conservation International suggested hanging the bat house where it would receive 6- 10 hours of sunlight. Check. The bat house faces south and is out of the way of the shadow of our house.

But BCI also suggested we hang the house higher than eight feel – more like 20. No check for us there although we followed the instructions that came with the house.

BCI also suggested we be within a quarter mile of water, preferably a stream, river, or lake. Well, we have ponds all over the neighborhood although none in our yard. The area where we attached the bat house is always wet, though, because that’s where the sump pump drains. So I gave it a check.

BCI continues by saying “Bat houses are most likely to succeed in regions where bats are already attempting to live in buildings.” So we had to think. Had we ever seen a bat? No check, at least not for certain. And this is where things get interesting.

The Miami County (Kansas) Extension Master Gardeners held their plant sale yesterday, a chance for me to connect with Lenora Larson, owner of Longlips Farm and bat guru extraordinaire. When I mentioned the bat house she gave me a look and said, “You should have checked with me first. Bats in Kansas don’t live in bat houses.”

Really? Well, rats!

But I had to check for myself, so off to Google I went. And what I found was not helpful in answering my particular question, although it was generally instructive.

I found a list of bats commonly found in Kansas (I’ve provided the link below). Interesting, but way more information than I wanted.

I learned that it can take up to five years for bats to find and inhabit a bat house. How sad. I need mosquito eaters sooner than that!

I learned that bat guano smeared on the house will probably not attract bats to live there. That made me happy.

And finally, I learned that if bats deigned to inhabit the house that we installed, we would probably have a pile of bug detritus under the house. So here we are back to the yuck factor involving bugs.

Meanwhile, we’re just going to leave the bat house where it is and see what happens next. My prediction? The carpenter bees just got themselves a fancy new home.

Bat Conservation International
Audubon Society
Mammals of Kansas

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11 thoughts on “Rats! Bats…

    • Yes, you are right! If it’s a bug, kill it! Although my gardening friends are beginning to moderate my thinking. Last year, thanks to Lenora’s advice, I actually let a big spider live!!

  1. We’ve been trying to attract bats to our neighborhood for many years to no avail. I think the stupid mosquito fogger trucks that routinely circulate the alleys under the cover of darkness have killed of ANY mosquito predator but not many of the mosquitoes! That insecticide is nasty stuff! If you find something that works…by all means, let me know! I have decorative bird houses filled with wasp nests! I think if I crawled up a ladder and checked the bat houses I might find they have moved into those as well!

    • One of the things I learned in my search for the Kansas bat that lives in a house is to NEVER use pesticides near a bat house. The chemicals evidently permeate the wood and kill the bats. So your theory may be 100 percent! I do know that the garden below the bat house is full of frogs. They jump out at me when I weed that bed!!

  2. Please don’t bother buying a butterfly house either. The only critters that use one are wasps and spiders, but never a butterfly.

  3. Funny! We have considered attracting bats for mosquito control, too. Not as easy as it seems. It’s an eternal quest looking for the perfectly safe and effective mosquito repellent. I don’t mind the other bugs, though…

    • Oddly enough, when we had the pond, we had no mosquitoes. I think we had sufficient frogs to keep the population to a minimum. Unfortunately, the pond was overrun by some reedy weeds and my husband filled it in… As for minding the other bugs, I’l learning to be more tolerant. Thanks for stopping by!

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