By Caroline Erickson
During the humid summer months in Michigan, mosquitos populations often boom, making it hard to enjoy the outdoors. Bug repellent, citronella candles and screened-in porches provide a little relief from these pests, but bats can also be a huge help in the effort to suppress mosquito populations. According to Bat Conservation International, a single little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour, while a pregnant or lactating female bat typically eats the equivalent of her entire body weight in insects each night. Bats’ enormous appetites make them an extremely effective solution to the mosquito problem of balmy summer nights in Michigan.
Hosting bats near your home will not only show your commitment to nature, but it will help relieve the burden of biting insects in your neck of the woods. Bat populations worldwide have been dropping due to habitat loss, and by building a bat house, you provide cover for these dwindling species, as well as a place for them to raise their young. Hosting a bat can also pay off in that bats tend to help pollinate many vital plants and flowers.
When considering building or buying a bat house, it is important to remember four key factors. First, it is crucial that your bat house be well-designed. A good bat house should be tall and wide, with more than one chamber, and it should feature a landing area below the entrance as well as frontal vents. Second, your bat house must be well constructed, with high-quality weather-proof wood that is tightly sealed at the seams. Third, your mounting location is crucial and should be near to readily available freshwater. Houses should also be mounted on poles or on houses so they can be easily found by their new tenants. Fourth, it is important to consider predators and parasites that could threaten your bats. It is important to mount your bat house high above ground, in a place far from branches, or other potential access points for predators. It is also important that wasp nests be removed in the early spring before the bats return again.
Building or buying a bat house is simple, attracting bats can often prove more difficult. Contrary to myth, lures and attractants, like bat guano, will not attract bring into a new house. Bats seek new nesting opportunities while they are feeding at night and can easily find crevices, cracks, and nooks that could provide potential shelter. Your bat house will be most appealing if it is warm and safe. This can be achieved by staining the house a dark color, keeping it tightly sealed and mounting it next to a house.
When buying a bat house you should be wary of houses that lack groves on the inside for the bats to cling to. Store-bought houses often tend to have a single chamber, which is not conducive to protection or trapping heat. You should also be aware of the woof being used to build your bat house, and try to avoid heavily treated woods.
Check out Houses For Bats, a Bat Conservation International certified bat houses vendor.
Find out how to build your own bat house here.