Discover everything you need to know about bats in our guide below.
What Are Bats?
Bats (scientific name Chiroptera) are the only mammals that can fly.
Rather than having arms or hands, like many other mammals, they have wings with a bone structure that’s similar to a human hand. Bats have lightweight, furred bodies and prominent ears that allow them to detect insects.
Bats exist in almost every habitat, from deserts and woodlands to caves and cities. While they prefer warmer temperatures, they can hibernate in caves to survive winter in cold climates.
There are more than 40 species of bats in the US, and although they occasionally become pests, they’re widely regarded as a beneficial species.
The Behavior, Diet, and Habits of Bats
Most bats in the US are insectivores. They hunt at night and consume flying insects like beetles, moths, and mosquitoes.
Because they’re voracious eaters (some bats can catch up to 1,000 insects a night, while nursing mother bats eat more than 4,000 insects a night), bats help control pest insects and keep populations in check.
That said, not all bats eat insects. Some species eat fruit and nectar. These bats also serve the critical purpose of pollinating plants that bloom at night.
Bats that hunt insects do so by using echolocation – they emit a high-frequency noise that bounces off of surrounding objects and allows them to “see” insects with sound.
Thanks to their large wings, bats are agile fliers. They can make almost instant turns to catch flying insects. When they’re not hunting, bats roost in groups in caves, eaves, or holes in trees. The average bat lifespan is from the early teens into the twenties.
What Damage Do Bats Cause?
Bats are usually not considered a pest species, but they can cause damage in rare situations.
Because bats are small enough to fit into tiny gaps (even those less than an inch wide) in buildings, they don’t have to chew holes in roofs or walls.
That said, they can spread diseases, including rabies (if they bite a person or a pet) and histoplasmosis, which is transmitted in bat guano. Bats can also introduce bat mites, which are similar to bed bugs.
Over time, a buildup of bat guano and urine can damage buildings, ruin insulation, or soak through the sheetrock and particle board.
How to Get Rid of Bats
The best way to get rid of bats is by implementing structural exclusion and patching exit and entry points, bat-proofing the home with bird netting and hardware cloth, and adding bright lights where bats roost.
The best way to get rid of bats responsibly and ethically is to hire a professional pest management company for assistance.
Bats are nocturnal, and they need dark, quiet places to roost. Because of this, adding bright lights or objects that reflect light to roosting areas can help get rid of bats.
Like any other wild animal, bats seek out homes that offer shelter, food, and water. Because bats eat insects, they can find food in most places. That said, they’ll roost around homes and outbuildings that offer shelter under eaves and soffit boards or in large spaces like barns and sheds.
No. Killing bats is illegal in most places. There are no pesticides registered for use against bats. Since bats are a beneficial species, it’s unnecessary to kill them since you can easily control their populations by removing their roosting sites and patching their exit and entrance holes.