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How to Get Rid of Bats: 5 Effective Ways

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how to get rid of bats

Bats are some of nature’s great bug killers. Left to their own devices, they help control mosquitos and other pests. They also pollinate plants and disperse seeds.

When bats get into your attic or wall voids, however, it’s a different story.

In this blog, we’ve share our proven tactics for removing bats from your space based on our 15+ years of experience in pest control.

Before You Get Started

Before you begin your DIY bat control, take steps to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, your home, the environment, and non-target species.

Here are a few things we recommend:

  • Learn about local laws and regulations pertaining to bat control. In many places, it’s illegal to kill bats, and it may even be unlawful to implement exclusion tactics in areas with fifteen or more roosting bats. 
  • Follow all label directions on chemical repellents carefully. 
  • Always wear PPE (goggles, leather gloves, masks, long pants) when working in areas where bats have been roosting. 
  • NEVER handle a bat directly. 
  • Contact your local health department if you suspect rabid bats in your home or building.

How to Get Rid of Bats Quickly and Safely

steps to follow to get rid of bats

Get rid of bats in your home or building by following these steps:

1. Inspect for exit and entry points 

The first step to addressing bat infestations is understanding where bats live and roost. 

To do this, you’ve got to perform a thorough inspection of your home and property. 

The best way to do this is to conduct two inspections: one at dusk (when bats are emerging from their roosts to hunt) and the other during the day when bats are roosting. 

It’s critical to remember that if bats are present in a building, they’ll leave it each evening to hunt – unless it is raining or the weather is uncharacteristically cold. 

To make sure you’ve identified all active bat roosting areas during your evening inspection, we recommend situating people at opposite corners of your home or structure so that each person can keep an eye on separate rooflines at the same time. 

Here are a few other inspection tips to follow:

  • Start your inspection about 30 minutes before dusk and continue for about an hour after the first bat emerges.
  • Make note of all bat entry and exit points, and try to count individual bats as you see them. 
  • If you’re not sure where to look, pay attention to common entry areas like attic louvers, rooflines (especially between fascia boards and roof sheathing), and other openings that may be the result of building deterioration. 
  • Check for bats behind outdoor shutters and gutters, behind expanded fascia boards, and within loose soffits.
  • Look for signs that bats are using an area as an exit or entry point, such as pre-emergence noise, droppings on the ground, or smudge marks on or near the entry points. 
  • Do not flash a beam of light at suspected entry or exit points. The light will frighten the bats and keep them from leaving, which can cause incomplete roost evacuation. 
  • Always conduct indoor inspections during the day when the bats are roosting in the structure. 
  • Remember that bats often, but not always, roost near emergence holes, so check these areas first. 
  • Indoor areas to inspect should include brick voids, chimney areas, ceiling and wall voids, and roof rafters – especially where they join the ceiling.
  • Always wear the proper clothing – including coveralls, a dust respirator, and leather gloves – and carry a bright flashlight when conducting bat inspections. 

2. Bat-proof your space

Bat-proofing a structure is the most logical and effective way to manage bat populations.

If you’re going to bat-proof a building, you need to time it right. 

You should never attempt to exclude bats between mid-May and mid-September since you’ll trap young bats inside the structure. 

In addition to killing bats, this approach would also create a swarm of panicked bats, which increases the risk of encounters with humans and pets, rabies transmission, and bat bites.

The best time of year to focus on bat exclusion is in the late fall – after the bats have left their roosts for hibernation, or in the late winter or early spring – before the bats return to an area. 

In some cases, you may be able to exclude bats during the summer, but you’ll need to work with an experienced pest management team or wildlife professional to do this, since it involves professional tactics and techniques that are NOT appropriate for non-professionals. 

Here are the bat-proofing tips we recommend:

  • Once you’ve identified bat entry and exit points, cover them to exclude bats. Since bats are so small, they can squeeze through openings that are ⅜” or larger. 
  • For lasting results, use ¼” hardware cloth, sheet metal, aluminum flashing, or plywood to seal openings. 
  • For temporary exclusion, soft materials like rags and cheesecloth can be used to plug holes.
  • Plastic bird netting is an effective tool for bat-proofing since it’s light and supple but tough enough to keep bats out. Depending on the setting, bird netting can be draped over the roof or cut and secured as needed to cover certain sections of a roofline. 
  • Bird netting can also be used to create bat “check valves,” which allow bats to leave a structure but keep them from returning. An example of a bat check valve is bird netting attached above a bat exit hole so that it hangs in front of the exit point. If the bottom portion of the netting is unsecured but weighed down with fishing weights, the bat will be able to emerge from the hole and crawl down the netting to escape but will be unable to re-enter the hole once they’ve left.

In addition to the exclusion tactics mentioned above, remember to keep doors and windows closed or screened and to cover fireplace openings with screens. 

Sometimes, wayward bats accidentally enter a structure through an open window or door. 

If this happens, leave the window or door open to create fresh air movements to help the bat escape. Turn off all the lights to make it easier for the bat to navigate back outside. 

3. Add bright lights

If you’ve noticed a few bats roosting in a tight space, adding bright lights can encourage them to leave. 

This approach is ideal for attics, carports, and similar spaces. 

For best results, use at least four 150-watt bulbs to illuminate the space, directing them so that they shine their light into all dark areas. 

While this approach can be practical for small spaces, it’s not a good approach for larger spaces like attics or wall voids, where bats can easily relocate to darker, more remote areas of the recess. 

bat houses

4. Add bat houses

Bat houses may work to entice bats away from a house or other structure, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be effective. 

There are so many factors that influence which harborage areas bats select, including location, temperature gradients, and substrate orientation, and it’s tough to predict them enough to make bat houses appealing. 

That said, bat houses installed away from public areas may serve to attract and protect bats. 

For more information on constructing bat houses, check out this link

And check out what the Pest Dude has to say about bat houses: 

We had a client who was trying to sell their house, and the home inspector found a huge colony of bats living under a piece of trim wood along the side of the garage.  We informed them that bats are protected species and beneficial so they should be handled with care.  We helped them create a strategy to allow the bats to leave naturally, close up their roosting sites, and put up bat boxes around the property in hopes that the bats would continue to provide their bug eating benefits but sleep safely away from the house. Total success! No bats were harmed, and the customer was able to finish preparing their home for sale and put it on the market!

5. Try chemical repellents

In addition to the exclusion tactics mentioned above, you can also use crystals or flakes of naphthalene to get rid of bats. 

While the repellent effects of naphthalene are temporary, and you’ll need to reapply the treatment every few weeks, it can discourage bats from roosting in open structures like carports or patios. 

For best results, hang about 5 ounces of naphthalene in a cheesecloth bag anywhere you’ve noticed bat roosting. 

Safety Tip: This tactic should only be employed outdoors, where kids, pets, and other household members won’t encounter naphthalene odors. 

Methods to Avoid Altogether

1. Ultrasonic sound devices 

There’s no evidence to suggest that ultrasonic sound devices will repel bats from structures or keep them from roosting in areas like attics and wall voids. Save your time and focus on proven removal methods, like exclusion, instead. 

2. Pesticides 

There are currently no pesticides that are registered for use against bats, and they should never be used as a bat management technique. 

In addition to the fact that it’s illegal to use pesticides against bats, poisoning them could cause them to fall to the ground near roosting areas, where kids, pets, and other animals could come into contact with them, causing a significant rabies risk. 

Do You Have Bats in Your Home? We can Help!

If your DIY bat removal efforts haven’t worked or you need more assistance, it’s smart to contact a skilled pest management company. 

Fortunately, we work with a network of reputable, local pest professionals. 

Contact us at (844) 532-0076, and we’ll put you in contact with one of our trusted partners in your area!

zachary smith no bg

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Bats FAQs

Bats are one of the most unique, interesting, and misunderstood mammals out there. 

Members of the families Vespertilionidae and Molossidae, bats are the only mammals that can truly fly. Ravenous insectivores, bats hunt at night and navigate their prey via echolocation. 

While there are about 40 species of bats in the US, the most common are the big brown bat, the little brown bat, and the Mexican free-tailed bat

Bats commonly roost in caves, hollow trees, and other naturally sheltered areas, but they may make their way into occupied buildings during the warm seasons of the year.

While bats are widely considered a beneficial species outdoors, they can become pests when they establish colonies in buildings and other inhabited areas. 

As they roost, bats make squeaking and scratching noises that can be annoying. They also deposit droppings and urine that create strong, persistent odors and can stain ceilings, walls, and other building materials. 

Their droppings attract pest insects and other bat colonies, even if you remove the original bat colony. In some cases, bat droppings can also create an environment that supports the growth of histoplasmosis capsulatum, a fungus that causes respiratory illness in people, pets, and other animals. 

Finally, bats carry rabies, and there’s a chance that infected bats can pass the disease along to humans and domestic pets. In fact, bats are the leading cause of rabies deaths for people in the US. 

zachary smith crop

Author Bio: Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith is the founder of PestDude.com. Zachary is a licensed pest control professional with 20+ years of hands on experience eradicating pests from homes and businesses. Zachary earned his Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2002. He specializes in rodent and insect infestation management of structures and landscapes. His passion is to share his extensive knowledge with the world.

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