Why Would I Want A Bat House?
Bats are the most important consumer of night-flying insects, including many agricultural pests that devastate crops. One small bat (there can be hundreds of bats in a bat house depending on the size) can eat up to 1,000 insects a night! Unfortunately, many bat populations are disappearing at alarming rates due to habitat loss. Most bats living in Florida prefer to roost in mature trees, dead trees (called snags), or in caves. However, many bats take up residence in buildings or other manmade structures, due to destruction of their habitats. A bat house in your backyard will offer a much needed place to live and they will return the favor by helping to control the insects in your area. At Lubee we have several bat houses on property.
Where Should I Locate My Bat House?
Placement of the bat house will be important in attracting bats to the new house. While observing the bats on your property, take note of their flight patterns and place the house in an open area where they will be able to notice it. Larger bat house typically have a higher occupancy rate due to a larger variance in temperature ranges.
Bats prefer their roosting quarters to be warm, safe from predators, and with proper ventilation. Bat house designs attempt to make a perfect provision of these needs, but the house itself will not attract the bats. The bats in north-central FL are attracted to areas that have open spaces near forest edges & accessible water sources.
We recommend placing bat houses on a pole or side of a building facing SE and at least 20’ above the ground with a 20’ clearance from a tree line and branches or wires which aerial predators could sit upon. The bat house should be placed where it will receive a minimum 6 hours of sunlight. Make sure that the pole is well anchored into the ground with concrete that will support the weight of the house. Avoid placing the house near bright lights and heavy human activity areas. Bat houses on trees are not successful due to shade, limb obstructions, and easy access for predators.
Placing a bat house on a building made of wood, brick or stone, is a good option for heat absorption. Also placing the house under eaves of a building has proven to be successful in attracting bats. Do not place the bat house over windows, doors, or walkways, as the guano will start to collect. Bat urine can stain the building and the area below the house. Bats will defecate and urinate prior to taking flight.
What Maintenance Does the Bat House Need?
Bat houses should have a light brown stain in South Florida and a medium brown stain for North Florida houses. A black stain is not recommended in Florida due to heat retention, making the house an undesirable temperature, but can be used on bat houses located in the northern states. The temperature within the house should be between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Proper maintenance of your bat house is important. Wasps and mud daubers can be a problem before bats ever have the chance of fully occupying the house. To reduce the risk of a wasp nest being built, roosting chambers should be ¾” apart. Should a wasp nest or mud dauber tubes be created, they should be removed in late winter or early spring when the wasps will be less active or have left their nests. You will need to check the house yearly to remove any nests and check for repairs i.e., new caulking of the seams or staining to seal the wood. Remember that any repairs or cleaning should be performed when the bats are not roosting. It is illegal in Florida to disturb/remove bats during the dates of April 15th to Aug 15th. This is due to the moms nursing their pups and any disturbances can disrupt this maternal bond.
GUANO & Safety
If you are thinking about collecting the guano for fertilizer in your gardens or flower beds, do not use a bucket or any deep container. Should a baby bat fall from the house, they will become trapped with no way out. Using a shallow container, like a long flower pot tray, or a potted plant are two very good options to collect and maintain the guano collecting process. Remember to use a shovel and wear gloves when you are collecting and mixing the guano to help reduce the risk of coming in contact with the microorganisms that are living in the feces.
Properly educating any children or adults in contact with the house is important to everyone’s health. Never touch any bats or guano without gloves. Should a bat be found on the ground, it could be ill. Call your local County Animal Control for removal/advice.
Can I Buy My Own Lubee Made Bat House?
Yes you can! All Lubee Bat Conservancy bat houses are made with cedar, which weathers well, is pest resistant, & will last for years. The house is fully caulked, properly ventilated, and offers a longer landing platform, an important factor in its occupancy. All proceeds go towards our conservation & education programs. Our bat houses are 100% made on property by the Lubee staff.
Will Bats Move Into My Bat House??
Attracting bats to your new bat house could take months or years for the bats to find and establish a roosting colony. Ninety percent of the time the houses are occupied within 2 years. There is no proven baiting system for attracting bats to your bat house. Placing guano under the house or a bat itself in the house (which is illegal) is futile.
While bats are foraging at night, they will investigate new potential roost sites. They are great at detecting the perfect bat sized crevices found in nature and manmade structures that provide protection from the elements and predators.
Enjoy your new neighbors and the amazing emergence at night!