If you are interested in attracting bats to your garden, here are a few tips for you to follow. We will cover the different parts of the country and perhaps some of the best ways and places to mount bat houses as well as other criteria needed for your own insect controllers.
Some general ideas that work in most places are keep your patio lights and any outdoor lights you have on all night. These lights attract insects and that provides a food source for your bats. Also a birdbath with fresh water would be something good for bats as they need fresh water to drink and it keeps them up a little higher to keep them out of a predators way. Okay, now to some specific information.
Bats are always looking for new roosts and the primary thing for us to remember is patience. It may take up to two years to establish a roost. So consider were to put up an artificial roost and in what direction to face it and if the OUTSIDE Only of the bat house should be painted. The bat house should be facing to the south-southeast for at least seven hours of direct sunlight. If there is a permanent stream or pond within a quarter mile this would also be great for them and if there is a woods or forest tree line within 100 feet to hide in in case of predators also good. However not all locales support this, so alternatives will be needed. For example a birdbath with fresh water would work or a garden pool would also be agreeable to them.
Temperature is a critical requirement for bats. In the northern and central parts of the country the bat roosts need heat and lots of it, especially in the winter. You can paint the outside of the bat house a darker color with a non-toxic latex paint and try to provide the roost with at least 6-8 hours of sunlight, preferably eight to twelve hours would be better. Make sure the edges are caulked to prevent air leaks as this will cause the heat to leak out. Most bats have a winter hibernation place to go but you may be lucky and they will stay in the roost, but remember if you disturb them in any way during hibernation they will probably die. In the southern climes paint the outside with a lighter more reflective color to remove some of the heat from the roost. If you mount the bat houses on a pole in the south, put up two of them and face one north and one south. If the bats occupy the north one more, in extremely hot temperatures between 95-100 and above a 100 degrees you can put up a tin roof over the top of the houses and if the temperatures run between 95-100 it is highly recommended to paint the roost a medium color and a white roof and over a 100 paint a light shade and a white roof. Again temperature is critical for the summer roosts and nurseries. Remember some bats have a winter hibernation area and they will return the next season.
Where you mount a bat house is critical and they will be occupied quicker if on a building or pole. Again they need to be high enough to be beyond the reach of most predators. Between 12-25 feet at the lowest and maybe better at around twenty feet if possible. New roosts need to be up before winter so they can be found in the spring when the bats come out to eat after hibernation. If the roost is not occupied by the second year try moving it to a different location. Remember, patience is necessary if you want to have bats around. A great natural insect controller.
In the next article I will discuss what bats will you expect to see in each section of the country.
Our store carries a variety of wildlife houses; bird, bat, butterfly, duck and others. We also carry several varieties of feeders and edible birdhouses. We believe that we have several types of each without inundating you with thousands of choices and not sure what you want. Visit the link above and look through our selections and I believe that you will find what you are looking for.