We’ve lived here at the orchard for fewer than two years and as with any old-but-new-to-you residence, there were a number of projects we’ve had to take on, a couple of those relating to bats. Ugh.
Roxy, our feline bat catcher, was doing a fine job but we preferred that she not have to catch any bats at all, so the first job in 2010 was to get the bats out of the house’s attic. Mike was able to do that with relative ease considering all of the horror stories we’ve read about the difficulty getting rid of bats. After figuring out where the bats were getting in, he installed a few exit tubes and the bats were gone by the end of the first summer we were here. Mission accomplished, and on to the barn.
As you can imagine, a big gappy, drafty barn presents a bit more of a challenge. The bats — and the pigeons — were used to easy entrance to the barn courtesy of a garage-door sized opening that opened right up to the hay loft. After Mike picked off the easy targets, he logged many hours watching bats exit and enter and sealed off openings one by one. Midway through 2011, he conceded defeat and figured that mother bats were birthing their babies, so he gave the bats an easy opening and pledged to give it another try in 2012.
This year, Mike added another weapon to his arsenal: a bat house. Although there are plenty of trees around here for bats to live in, he wanted to give them an easy substitute for the barn so he built a bat house and installed it on the south side of the barn above the opening they previously used.
The bats haven’t adopted it yet, but it’s early and Mike’s gotten real down and dirty in an attempt to induce them into a new home by pre-scenting it with their own guano. He read that bats might ignore a house made for them unless they’re drawn to it, so he filled some disposable tea bags with guano, wet them down, and stapled them to the bat house. Yes, kind of gross. I will probably never look at TeaSource’s Breakfast Assam, which I use with their Chai blend, in the same way.
In the meantime, Mike’s back to dusk and dawn bat duty in an attempt to further seal up entrances to the hayloft.
With all of the ponds and wetlands here, we love the bats for their effects on the mosquito population — we just don’t love them in the barn.