How to Attract Bats to a Bat House

It is tricky to get bats to use a bat house. Installing a bat house does not guarantee that bats will roost there. In fact, they may choose your house. You could think of it this way: You’re giving bats the choice to stay in a motel 6 or the Ritz Carlton. Bats are going to stay in the most comfortable place they can find. Thats said, if you are considering installing a bat house, how can you make it the most inviting roost for bats and attract them to your bat house?

Keys to Attract Bats

First, what doesn’t work? Existing evidence strongly suggests that lures or attractants (including bat guano) will not attract bats to a bat house. Bats have to find new roosts on their own. Here are five keys to try and attract them the right way.

Placement

Picking the right spot for your bat house is extremely important. Bat houses work best on structures, mounted up high. Read our article, Tips for the Best Bat House Placement, to learn how to pick the best spot for your bat house.

Provide Water

Providing water to bats is very important, but it’s not as simple as putting out a bird bath. Since bats drink on the wing (meaning they swoop down and drink while flying) they need at least 7-10 feet in length of water to drink successfully. If you have a pond or water trough, these can work well.

Plant Native Plants

Native plants attract native insects that in turn provide bat food. Opt for indigenous plants such as the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), which attract moths and beetles—staples in the bat diet. Additionally, consider incorporating Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) and Bee Balm (Monarda didyma), both attractive to pollinators like bees and butterflies, thus fostering a thriving insect population that can, in turn, attract hungry bats to your bat house.

Temperatures

Maintaining proper roost temperatures is probably the single most important factor for a successful bat house. Interior temperatures should be warm and as stable as possible (ideally 80 degrees F to 100 degrees F in summer) for mother bats to raise their young. Some species, such as the big brown bat, prefer temperatures below 95 degrees F, while others, such as the little brown bat, tolerate temperatures in excess of 100 degrees F. The sides of wooden or masonry structure are the best mounting sites, especially in colder climates, because temperatures are more stable than for houses attached to poles.

Bat house temperatures are influenced directly by the exterior color, compass orientation (east, southeast, or south-facing are generally good bets for single houses in most climates), the amount of sun exposure, how well the house is caulked and vented, and the mounting and construction materials.

Preform Maintenance

Bat houses should be monitored at least once a month (preferably more often) to detect potential problems such as predators, overheating, wood deterioration, etc. Any repairs or cleaning should be performed when bats are not present.

If you don’t see bats using your bat house you may be able to find local experts to help you evaluate your placement and construction. If you are in the Hudson Valley area, give us a call! We can help find out what’s working and maybe what’s not working with your bat house. At the end of the day, any bat house placement takes patience. Bats may not immediately come knocking down your bat house door, but with the right approach and with a little patience, you may be able to give some bats a wonderful new spot to call home.

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