Bat House

Build a bat house for your backyard

While many people consider bats pesky, dangerous and even frightening, the truth is that they do a great service for people seeking to protect gardens and crops. Flying insects that are active at night – moths, mosquitoes, beetles, etc. – can wreak havoc on crops, gorging on them after the sun goes down. Bats are these insects' primary predator, and one bat eats hundreds of these flying nuisances per hour. Just imagine what an entire colony of bats could do to protect your crops and gardens!

Enter the concept of the bat house, an effective weapon in insect protection.

Practical Considerations for Bat House Designs

You won't be able to attract bats to roost in your bat house unless you understand how they think and behave. These tips can help guide the design and placement of your bat house so that you can slant the odds in your favor:

  • Bats prefer warm environments; bat houses will retain their heat at night if they're exposed to at least 10 hours of direct sunlight during the day.
  • Don't include trees in your bat house building plans. Tree-mounted houses are hard for bats to find, and make it easy for predators to attack them if they do find it.
  • Make sure there's a source of fresh water within a quarter-mile of the bat house.
  • Keep the entrance to the house free of obstacles, such as tree branches. Bats like to swoop in unobstructed space.
  • Your bat house plans should not include lights; in fact, if you place the bat house near a source of light, it's virtually assured that it will remain empty.
  • Use untreated wood; it contains no harmful chemicals.
  • Keep the surfaces inside the house rough; this allows the bats to grip its floor or walls more easily.

How to Build a Bat House

Keeping those tips in mind, search the Internet for free bat house plans or visit your local building center to purchase bat house kits. Building a house from scratch using plans is a good idea if you have some carpentry experience; first-timers are better off sticking to the fail-safe, step-by-step instructions found in kits. Bat house kits also contain everything you'll need to get the house up and running.

Bat houses consist of four main parts: the pole sleeve, which attaches to the pole you'll be suspending the house from; the inner shell; the outer shell; and the roof. You'll use all four of these structural parts regardless of the specific design you choose.

After you've constructed the bat house, paint the outer surface a dark color (brown or black). This will help it attract and retain heat from the sun. When you're ready to install the house, use the given guidelines to determine the ideal placement in your yard, attach the pole sleeve to the fence bracket or whatever fixture you've chosen, and then sit back and let Mother Nature take care of the rest.

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