As a result of vampire stories bats have earned a sinister reputation but the fact is they are a valuable asset to home gardeners. Not only do they play a role in pollinating plants they are voracious consumers of moths, beetles, and mosquitos. The average bat can eat over 1,000 mosquitos in just one evening! It may be a surprise but while bats may spend the winter in caves they spend the warmer months of the year under bridges, in old buildings or even in trees where they rear their young. As suburbia expands the loss of trees, in particular, can be a problem for bats and building a bat house is a great way to attract these beneficial mammals to your yard.
If you search the internet there are no shortage of articles and videos on how to build a bat house. Some are quite intricate and others are as simple as recycling old pallets used for shipping purposes. The National Wildlife Federation has a detailed plan to build a bat house.
These are some items that almost all of the do it yourself projects require when building your own bat house:
- Safety goggles
- Tape Measure and a pencil
- A saw of some type whether it be a hand saw, circular saw, or jigsaw
- Wood that has not been pressure treated with chemicals as these are not good for the bats. Wood that has natural water repelling properties, such as cedar work particularly well for this project.
- Wood screws and a screwdriver or drill with a screwdriver bit to install them
- Water based paint or stain made for exterior wood and paint brushes to apply it. Interior colors should be dark to help retain heat and exterior colors should help the house blend in with its surroundings
Once you’ve assembled your bat house and you are ready to install it somewhere here are some tips to keep in mind:
- The location should get morning sun. Bats like warmth, particularly when they are rearing their young.
- The bat house should be at least 15 feet off the ground to protect the bats from predators.
- There should be a water source nearby.
- Bats like tight spaces so look for plans that have openings that are around ¾ of an inch wide.
- The inside of the house should have a rough surface or grooves for the bats to climb on and hold on to when they are inside the house.
The spring is an excellent time to build a bat house as this is the time of year when bats have their babies. Building a bat house is a project that can usually be completed in a weekend and it can be fun to do with your children.