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Bat houses

We have bats in our yard and see them swooping around at dusk and going after insects. We don't mind the bats – except if they get in the house.  One way to discourage them from invading your space is to put up their own house. Rob Mies is the director of the Organization for Bat Conservation. He says bats are the primary predator of nighttime insects, including mosquitoes, moths, and beetles.

A natural habitat for bats is often under peeling bark from dead trees, so the best place to install a bat house is on a pole or on the side of a building.

"At least 15-feet off the ground, facing an open, sunny location. And even painting the bat house a dark brown or black color, will absorb heat and help keep the bats warm which is really important in spring and even cool, summer nights when baby bats are not flying," says Mies. "So, what you're looking to do is trying to simulate the loose and peeling bark of a dead tree."

Bats usually move in one-to-six months after you put up a house. If you install it this summer and don't see any bats using it by the end of next summer, move the house to another location.

You can buy a ready-made bat house or make your own, but it needs to be the right size.  

"Make sure you have houses that have about 3/4" spacing.  And that is small enough to help make sure that predators can't get in there, but also big enough that they can move around," he says. "Bat houses that are taller, and wider, and deeper – in general – the larger the bat house the better."

There is no floor in a bat house, so Mies says once a week or so, shine a flashlight into it to make sure no paper wasps have taken up residency. If they do, knock them out.

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