Attracting bats to your yard with a bat house is a great way to control the insect population. Because insects form the main part of the diet of bats, having bats homes on your property will keep the number of mosquitoes down without the use of pesticides.
Due to habitat destruction bat populations have been declining. You can bring bats to the vicinity of your home by installing a well-designed bat house. You will see many of these for sale in yard and garden centers and websites. Some designs are more practical than others and there are ones that look good to the human eye that are not very well suited to being bats homes. The better the design of the bat house, the more likely bats are to be attracted to it.
Size is an important consideration. It's better to choose a large bat house. Remember that their natural habitat is caves, so they prefer an enclosure with a large open space inside. There needs to be a landing plate as well as a rough interior. Some designs for bats homes have screening attached to the inside to give the bats something to cling to. This is better than a smooth wall, but sometimes the screening deteriorates from weather over the seasons. Bats need a rough surface to land on and cling to. The best designs have wood of the appropriate texture, rather than metal screens added on. The wood surface will maintain its texture or even gain more through the weathering process.
Another concern about bats homes is the exterior surface. An unpainted bat house has an appealing rustic look, but unfortunately it's likely to deteriorate faster from weather conditions. Bats homes should be painted for the same reason as humans homes should be, to protect the outside.
Other design features to think about are the sealing of the seams so that the box retains its shape, venting to ensure air circulation and temperature control, and an open bottom to help control temperature and discourage parasites.
To be effective bats homes must be placed where they will best attract bats and help them thrive. It is recommended that a bat house get seven hours of sunlight as a minimum, preferably in the morning. Catalogs and websites often show a bat house attached to a tree. Again, it is decorative, but not what is best for the bats. If you mount the bat house to a tree the location will probably get too much shade.
Attaching it under the eaves of the house will produce a similar problem. Try to find a place that will let the box get sunlight in the morning, but not have bright light shining on it late in the day or as the sun goes down. It should be shielded from any kind of flashing lights or harsh shiny materials.
Ideally bats homes should be near some sources of water and away from vents or sources of smoke. Also, they should not be placed where they will be disturbed by human activity. One solution is to find a good spot, install a pole and then attach the bat house to the pole.
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