Bats, just like any other animal, have a purpose. About 70% feed on pest insects, including mosquitoes. In fact, one bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes and other pesky insects in just one hour.
But bats aren’t something you want in your home. When the cold weather comes around and bats settle in for the winter, they often take refuge in homes. Whether it’s the roof, attic, chimney or basement, bats can easily turn your home into their home.
Table of Contents
- How Bats Can Damage Your Home
- How to Get Rid of Bats Permanently
- How to Discourage (Prevent) Bats In Your House
How Bats Can Damage Your Home
Bats can enter your home through vents, roof edges, roof valleys, siding, chimneys or gable ends. Over time, these flying creatures can cause damage to your home.
In most cases, bats roost in walls or attics, but some bat colonies are formed in strange places like water wells. These bats can interfere with utility operations if water pumps are blocked or the water is contaminated.
Bats may also create unsightly rub marks near the exits of their roosting area. These markings are caused by the bat’s body oils, and they often contain hairs. If you have light-colored siding or wood, these marks are obvious and unsightly.
Aside from rub markings, bats also deposit urine and droppings in the home. Called guano, bat droppings can facilitate the growth of bacteria that causes disease, such as histoplasmosis.
The smell from urine and droppings can make life in your home uncomfortable. Eventually, urine and droppings build-up will cause staining, ruin insulation and soak through sheet rock. In severe infestations, the interior of the structure can collapse.
Bats can also introduce bat mites into your home, which are often mistaken for bed bugs. These bugs will make your family their new hosts. Exterminators often mistake these bugs for bed bugs. They treat the entire home, and get called back weeks later because of a new infestation. As long as the bats remain in the home, mites will continue to be a problem.
Thankfully, bats will not gnaw or make nests in your home. Structural damage is minimal (if at all). Disease is the biggest concern with bats, and you certainly don’t want them roosting in your home for long.
How to Get Rid of Bats Permanently
Removing bats from a home can be a difficult and dangerous task for homeowners. Because these animals can spread disease, including rabies, careful and professional handling is important.
With that said, exterminators can be expensive and out of the budget of some homeowners. If you have bats inside or outside your home, there are steps you can take to remove them.
Get Rid of Bats Outside Your House
If bats are roosting outside your home, you can prevent them from migrating into your home. But you need to act quickly to prevent staining and other damage to the exterior of your home.
Use these methods to eliminate bats from your yard:
1. Hang Mothballs Near Nesting Sites
Bats aren’t fond of mothballs, and they make great, inexpensive repellents.
- Place a cup of mothballs in a cheesecloth.
- Tie up the cheesecloth to create a sack.
- Hang the sack where the bats are nesting.
The smell of the mothballs will discourage the bats from roosting in the area.
Bats often return to old nesting sites, so you may need to repeat this process more than once.
2. Mylar Balloons
Another effective way to drive away bats outdoors is to hang Mylar balloons or long strips of aluminum foil near a roost.
3. Cat and Dog Repellents
Aerosol cat and dog repellents will discourage bats from nesting in a particular spot for several months.
The spray needs to be applied during the day when bats are away.
4. Water Spray
If all else fails, a good spray from a garden hose should send bats on their way. The water will not hurt the bats, but will annoy them enough to leave.
The bats may return, so you may need to repeat this process more than once.
How to Eliminate Bats in Your Basement
If your basement is a little damp, bats may mistake it for a cave. Sometimes, a bat will form a colony in the walls or attic or may accidentally crawl down into the basement. Once it discovers that your basement is a great place to roost, others may follow it. Before you know it, you have an entire colony in your basement.
1. Removing a Single Bat
If a lone bat made its way into your basement, removal will be far easier than getting rid of a whole colony.
To remove the bat, you’ll need:
- A thick pair of gloves
- Long pants
Make sure all gaps under doorways are covered to prevent the bat from escaping.
- Using a broom, knock the bat onto the floor. Bats cannot easily take off from the ground.
- Cover the bat with a fishing net.
If the bat has not come in contact with anyone in your family, you can release it into the wild. But if you or your children have come in contact with the bat, you will need to call animal control. The bat will be tested for rabies, and your family will be treated if necessary.
2. Removing a Colony
If you’re dealing with a colony of bats, removal will be a more complex process.
The first step is to find out how the bats are getting into your home. Bats can fit into holes as small as your thumb, so finding entry points can be challenge.
Try walking around your home at sunset, and watching for bats leaving the roost. This will give you a clear indication of where the bats are getting in.
Once you have found all openings:
- Seal small holes and gaps with caulk.
- Attach wire mesh over active openings. Make sure the mesh is small enough to prevent bats from getting through.
When attaching the wire mesh, be sure to leave the bottom open, so any roosting bats can exit your home. Once a bat has left the roost, it will not be able to get back inside. The bottom of the mesh should be left open for about a week to allow all bats to exit your home.
The mesh can be removed after all the bats have left the home. Seal the hole completely with caulk or another sealant.
This same method can be used to:
- Get rid of bats in the ceiling
- Get rid of bats in the chimney
How to Kill Bats in The Attic
When bats make their way into a home, they typically roost in the attic. Attics are easily accessible from the roof, they’re away from humans, and they offer a great place to nest.
We’re going to show you how to get rid of the bats in your attic. These methods can also help you get rid of bats in the roof.
1. Single Bat Removal
If you’re dealing with just one or two bats, physical removal is the simplest and most effective solution.
Because attics tend to be tight and small, consider hiring a trained professional to remove the bat. Professionals will have the right gear and will know how to safely and humanely remove the bat from your home.
If you can’t hire a professional, you can try the method listed above in the basement removal section. You will need heavy-duty, thick gloves and long, thick pants for this job.
2. Removing a Colony
If you have a colony of bats, your options are limited. State laws and regulations protect bats from certain control methods. These regulations provide specific requirements and protections for bats.
Do not use chemicals to try and remove bats.
Infestations are best handled by professionals with experience in bat removal.
The best way to get rid of bats in the attic or roof is exclusion. The only problem with exclusion is that bats often establish maternal colonies to have their young. Baby bats are dependent on their mothers for a long time. If the mother is not allowed back to the colony, her young will die.
The first order of business is to find out which species of bat you’re dealing with. Once you know the species, research the species to find out when it is safe to start excluding the colony.
Exclusion works the same way the basement removal method works: find the entry points, seal them off.
Again, you’ll want to leave the bottom of the mesh coverings open, so any remaining bats can exit the home. Once all the bats are gone, you can seal up the hole to keep them from coming back.
You can try getting rid of bats with sound, but do not rely on this as your primary removal method. These devices don’t always work, or may not be as effective as you’d hoped.
How to Discourage (Prevent) Bats In Your House
Once you’ve cleared your home of your bat problem, you want to prevent them from coming back in the future. Bats often return to old nesting sites the following spring, so it’s important to be prepared and make sure you don’t have to deal with the same problem next year.
These are several ways to discourage bats:
- Set up bat boxes
- Keep entry holes sealed
- Attract natural bat predators, such as owls
If bats do return despite your prevention efforts, you may have no other choice but to call in a professional to help bat-proof your home.