8.26.2013

bat house


I wanted a bat house almost as soon as we bought our (human) house. I love bats. I used to love seeing them swing low over the lake to catch bugs when I lived in upstate NY. And they need houses! Many species of bats are experiencing dwindling populations as their habitats become disturbed or eliminated because of human land development. A little brown bat (the kind that live in bat houses) are great for bug control: they can eat more than 1000 bugs a night! They eat mosquitoes, wasps, moths, gnats, beetles, and midges, all insects I'd love to be rid of. Waltham has an especially large mosquito population, which makes hanging out on our porch after dusk way less enjoyable than it could be. Annnnd since bat houses are set up to be ideal living situations for bats, bats are less likely to move into a human house or barn if there is a bat house nearby. (Fewer than 0.5% of bats contract rabies, by the way, so we weren't worried about that.) If you want to find more about bats, bat conservation, or cute pictures of bats, I recommend checking out Bat Conservation International's website. They also list many certified vendors of bat houses, including the vendor we chose: Habitat for Bats!
Their little bat emblem is a nice touch.
 You can make your own bat house (Bat Conservation International has specific guidelines and directions), but I chose to buy ours because we would have had to buy all of the materials anyway, and if you don't get the specifications right, you could actually injure the bats you're trying to house. Since I have few to no building skills, so I opted for the labor- and pain-free route.

The ideal location for a bat house is a tall (10-15 feet) pole or side of a building that gets a lot of sun. (Bats like warmth! That's why, if you live in a colder area, the bat house has to be a dark color.) You should be near a wooded area, but not too close, and you want to be within 1/4 miles of a body of water. We get a lot of sun and are fairly close to woods, but we're actually 3/4 miles away from the Charles River. I initially wanted to put the bat house on the side of our house, but didn't want to wash bat droppings off the siding on a regular basis, so we decided on a tree in our back yard. Trees are normally not ideal locations for bat houses because they tend to be shady AND bat predators (like owls) can perch on branches nearby, but this particular tree doesn't have any overhanging branches and is far enough away from other branches that we decided it would do. I wanted to drill right into the tree to mount the house, but Kevin was concerned about the health of the tree. so he spent some time online looking up other ways and devised a bungee-cord mount with the help of some online forums.


We borrowed an extension ladder from our neighbor (thanks, Michael!). Kevin held the ladder steady (not an easy job-the soil was still really soft in the back yard from all my earth-moving) while I put up the house. There was a lot of nut- and bolt-dropping from the ladder because I am clumsy. But when we were done:
We had a mounted bat house!
Little brown bats migrate to our area in late May/early June, so starting in June, I went back to the bat house every now and then to peek up inside-but never saw any bats. FOr a while I didn't seen any bats in it or flying around in the evenings, so I've been afraid we didn't have any bats. But 2 weeks ago, when I went to water my garden (which is near the bat house), I noticed there were BAT DROPPINGS at the base of the tree! And last week I saw a bat circling our driveway. SO WE HAVE BATS! (Or at least one bat.) Hooray! Hopefully now that they know it's there, more and more bats will migrate to the house each year. And someday I will sit out on my porch at dusk and not get eaten alive by mosquitoes!

3 comments:

affectioknit said... Best Blogger Tips

Cool! We had bat houses in NC...

~Have a lovely day!

pramod negi said... Best Blogger Tips

Nice Blog
Wonderful post, really great tips and advice. I was interested by your comment,

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phil said... Best Blogger Tips

Great artical.
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