There are over 40 species of bats in North America, and there’s a good chance that there are currently bats visiting and living near your backyard.
Bats are shy and gentle creatures, and will not try to get tangled in your hair or suck your blood. In fact, they’ll perform a very beneficial job in your garden – natural insect control. A single brown bat can eat up to 600 insects in an hour.
By providing a bat house in an open and sunny location, you’ll have a good chance of them taking up residence in your backyard.
Attracting Bats to Your Backyard
Most bats will visit yards looking for insects to eat. They often hunt around streetlamps, targeting insects attracted to the light. Adding a light source to attract insects will also attract moths – a bat favorite food!
Moths are also attracted to scented plants like primrose, clematis, barberry, and rotting fruit. Planting a variety of plants, and allowing fruit to ripen and rot on the ground is a good approach to attracting moths.
Bats similar to birds, seek out water sources and are attracted to backyard bird baths, ponds and fountains. If not already available, consider adding a backyard water source. Bat houses placed 15-20 feet from a water source are more likely to be occupied.
Where to Locate a Bat House
Bat houses come in a wide variety of styles and designs. Some are designed to hang flat against the exterior wall of a house or garage, while others are designed to be post mounted. New England Birdhouse offers a variety of styles of bat houses, or if you prefer to build your own you can download free bat house plans here.
Regardless of where you decide to mount your bat house, make sure that it is at least 15 feet above the ground, the higher the house the greater the chance of attracting bats.
The house should receive 6-8 hours of open sun a day and orientating it so that it faces south or southeast to take advantage of the morning sun. This will ensure that the interior of the house is warm enough for the bats during the night.
White Nose Syndrome
On a somber note, have you heard about the devastation that White-nose syndrome has caused bats in the northeast? It is estimated to have killed more than a million bats in nine states since it was first recognized in New York in 2006. The syndrome is named for the sugary smudges of fungus on the noses and wings of affected bats. More about White Nose Syndrome
Video Tips for Attracting and Housing Bats
All of the items featured in the video are available here.