If you think you have bats living in your trees, it’s most likely because you’ve either heard or seen them. They like to screech and lay claim to nooks and crannies throughout our homes and gardens. In summation, they can be quite the sneaky and noisy residents!
The best way to keep bats out of your trees is to disturb their senses with sights and sounds. Peppermint oil, Vicks Vapor Rub, decoy bat houses, bright lights, and netting all work in deterring bats from your trees as they primarily use sight and sound to move.
In the following article, we go into the best ways to keep bats out of your trees, plus set the record straight on some ineffective measures. So grab your notebook and get ready to learn some helpful strategies!
Why You Want To Repel Bats
Many times, gardeners and homeowners tend to want to attract bats to their yard because they’re great at controlling bugs. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bats play an important part of our ecosystem.
Although bats are often portrayed as evil villains in all our favorite childhood tv shows and movies, they’re rarely harmful! Their monstrous portrayal in modern cinema has done more harm than good for their reputation.
In reality, bats tend to keep to themselves. They are nocturnal animals and come out to play around dusk and dawn, mostly to eat bugs. Otherwise, they like to stay confined to small, dark spaces.
But while your yard may benefit from this, there are still several reasons you may not want them inhabiting your trees or staying too close to your home. Keep reading below as we share the best ways to keep bats away from your trees.
Some people are also concerned with bats causing damage to their house, especially if the bats are roosting inside your home!
If you are confused on why bats may be coming to your yard, check out our article on the 4 things that attract bats!
How to Keep Bats Away From Trees
It’s time to dive into the best ways to keep bats out of your trees. Before we get into it, it’s important to note a few often overlooked points.
First, it’s important to monitor your repellent strategy after implementation. Some bats will be more sensitive to certain repellents than others.
Whether you’re sprinkling peppermint essential oils around your trees or shining bright lights about the yard, monitor the situation to ensure you’re seeing fewer bats around your trees.
Second, these repellent strategies can be mixed and matched. There’s no harm in using an essential oil spray and placing motion-activated lights around your yard.
While you may want to start with one method to test effectiveness, you can always kick your repellent strategy up a notch by implementing a second method alongside the first.
Now let’s get into it!
Smells To Keep Bats Away From Trees
Bat can have strong reactions to human household products. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s strong smelling, it can potentially keep bats away.
Similar to raccoons, bats dislike many essential oils and other common strong-smelling household products, making these everyday items great natural repellents!
Peppermint Essential Oil Repels Bats
Are you a baker who dabbles in making mint cookies? Or perhaps you’ve drawn an essential oil bath to relax one night?
If that’s the case, you already have peppermint essential oil on hand. Not only is it a common household item, but it’s also a bat repellent. Which makes it especially convenient, as you don’t need to go out of your way to acquire it!
An easy way to use peppermint essential oil to your advantage is to mix a few drops of the liquid with two cups of warm water plus roughly half a cup of sugar.
Shake the contents in a spray bottle. Then, approach the affected area—most likely your trees in this case—and spray liberally over the branches and leaves.
This goes without saying, but make sure you’re not using a peppermint oil that contains sugar. By spraying a sugar-rich mixture you may solve your bat problem, but ants will follow close behind.
Over the next few days, continue to monitor bat activity around your tree following the spraying.
The spray should hold for a few days; however, if you continue to see bats around your trees or if the spray doesn’t hold, consider moving on to one of the other options below.
Now when we say day, we really mean night – as bats are nocturnal and not active during the day.
Using Cinnamon, Clove, And Eucalyptus Essential Oils To Repel Bats
Don’t have peppermint oil on hand? No problem!
Bats, much like raccoons and rats, are sensitive to a variety of other essential oils. Check your cupboards for alternative essential oils. These include cinnamon, eucalyptus, and clove essential oils.
Purchase A Pre-Made Essential Oil Mixture
If you aren’t interested in making the mixture yourself (or you don’t have the essential oils listed readily available), consider purchasing a premade product.
Check out the Harris Peppermint Oil Mice & Rodent Repellent Spray. This spray is extra-concentrated meaning longer coverage and protection for your trees.
Vicks Vapor Rub Repels Bats
By now you’ve learned about the essential oils that keep bats away from your trees. But perhaps you don’t have any of the oils listed on hand. Or perhaps you can’t stand the smell of peppermint, cloves, eucalyptus, or cinnamon.
Well, we have an alternative for you!
Ever catch a cold and become in need of Vicks Vapor Rub? That sniffling-soothing balm can work double duty in your household as bats can’t stand the smell!
Why does Vicks Vapor Rub repel bats and how can you use it to your advantage? Vicks Vapor Rub repels bats due to the strong menthol scent it emits. The secret ingredient that’s effective in clearing out your nasal passageways is also a huge turnoff to our flying bat friends.
Similar to why bats don’t enjoy the scent of strong essential oils, the odor given off by Vicks Vapor Rub is similarly repulsive to bats–making it a most welcome addition to your bat-repelling toolkit.
If you’d like more options, take a look at our full guide on the scents that bats hate here!
Other Ways To Keep Bats Away from Trees
On top of using scents to repel bats, there are some other ways that you can repel them. Read on to learn some interesting ways that you can use to keep bats away for good!
Install A Decoy Bat House
Draw bats away from your trees by giving them a better place to hang out: a bat house! Bats are naturally attracted to these sturdy, dark structures that allow for upwards of 75 bats.
If you live in a bat-rich area, it may be a good idea to purchase one of these structures and install it far away from your trees. Check out the BIGBATBOX bat house for outdoors. By using a bat house, bats won’t make your trees their home-of-choice and instead poise themselves for sleep inside these structures.
Just be warned: if you don’t position the house far away enough from the impacted trees, you may still get bats swarming your saplings.
Limit The Insects In Your Yard
We mentioned this before but it’s worth mentioning again: bats love bugs.
They’re such hungry creatures that they can consume thousands of bugs per night. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife states that some female bats can eat their own body weight’s worth of bugs in one night!
The perk of this is that they get rid of insects that are harmful to your yard, including mosquitos, wasps, moths, and mayflies. The downside is that the more bugs you have, the more bats you’ll have.
Control your yard’s bug population with a few easy tactics. These include: installing patio fans, throwing out standing water, burning citronella candles, and leaning into strong-smelling substances.
A convenient hack, if you’re in this situation, is to know that a few of the scents that keep bats away will also help keep insects at bay—take citronella and peppermint essential oil, for example. Spray these around your yard to control the number of bugs flying about.
Trim Your Trees & Plants
This tip goes hand in hand with the last one mentioned. Bats like to hang out in trees, but so do bugs.
Keeping your plants and trees trimmed isn’t all about making your home more attractive for your neighbors. Mowing regularly can help cut down on the types of bugs that like tall grass (think ticks!).
By the way, the same advice can be applied to mulch in your yard! If you go overboard on the mulch, it gives bugs a cozy spot to settle in. But not all mulch is bad! It can also prevent bees so just be sure you’re using the right amount of cover.
Keeping your trees trimmed is also important because if the branches are too close to your house, it can actually INVITE bats into your attic. So, keep tree branches trimmed at least 15ft from the edge of your house if you can.
Light Up Your Yard
Bats don’t like light. And that’s not just a myth made up for cartoon and horror movie lore. Bats are nocturnal creatures, after all. Hence their strong association with things that go bump in the night. Plus why you’ll also find them hanging out in caves.
It’s also why they’re known for causing distress to your home and garden: when you can’t see them, it’s hard to know what damage is occurring before it’s too late.
If you’re certain that bats are in your trees–and not in your home–then it’s a good idea to try stationing bright lights (think floodlights) around the garden.
Choose a high-powered light like the Woods 500 Watt Portable Work Light. Just make sure it’s not flooding your neighbor’s yard, or you may receive complaints.
If you want something that’s more subtle, go for a motion-sensor bulb like the Solar Motion Sensor Light. One often under-looked perk to motion censored lights is that they’re more economical than those that stay on all night.
By only flickering into action when motion is detected, you’ll save on your energy bill—or at least your battery usage.
When using lights to keep bats away, it’s important to keep two things in mind:
- If your home has open entry points, a bright light could cause a bat to flee into your dark home. Ensure that you don’t have bats indoors already or else the bright light will encourage them to nest and burrow further into your home’s nooks and crannies.
- While bright lights at night scare bats away from your trees, they could attract other critters, like raccoons. Avoid giving raccoons more opportunities to burrow through your trash: ensure there aren’t any near your premise before shining a light on their second (or third! or fourth!) supper.
You can read our full list of things that attract bats to your yard to learn about more potential things that bring them near your trees!
Cast a Bird Net
Bird netting is a quick and highly effective strategy when it comes to keeping bats away from your trees. Often, these types of nets are used to keep birds away from trees. However, they double for bat usage as well!
Bats eat fruit and can be attracted to the fruit trees in your yard. That’s not ideal if you’re trying to reap the fruits of your labor! Choose an easy option like Roulan Bird Netting for Garden to protect your vegetable and fruit trees from all flying critters.
There are a few reasons why we love bird netting for keeping bats away. First, it’s a safe option for you, the bats, and your trees. Second, the netting is very easy to wrap around your saplings.
Plus, it easily adapts into the shape you need thanks to its flexible molding and light material. And lastly, netting is a great choice because it won’t tear easily—meaning that as long as it’s effective, you can set it and forget it.
Ineffective Bat Deterrents
Now that we’ve covered some effective measures when it comes to keeping bats away from your trees, it’s time to touch on the not-so-effective bat deterrents.
Consider these methods with a grain of salt: some folks out in the ether claim these are great bat-repelling strategies, however, we believe differently.
All said, if it works for you and your trees, that’s what matters most!
Don’t Fall For Ultrasonic Sound Machines
You heard it here first: ultrasonic sound does not scare bats! While ultrasonic sound is effective in scaring off a variety of rodents (think big bugs and rats), it is not effective in scaring bats from your trees and home.
In fact, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is quick to warn against ultrasonic sound devices to scare bats from your home.
Why? While bats may not at first enjoy the sound emitted from an ultrasonic device, they can quickly adapt to it. Bats use high-frequency noises to communicate—not unsimilar to the ones emitted from any ultrasonic sound machine. So they aren’t entirely unfamiliar with these sounds.
Just to be sure to keep in mind: ultrasonic sound machines may sometimes be effective in keeping other critters out of your home and garden, but don’t rely on them to repel bats.
While there’s lots of good advice out there as to how to rid your trees of bats, we also have to point out the not-so-good advice. That includes windchimes.
Around the internet, folks proclaim that these noisy yard decor staples will help rid your home and garden of bats. However, we’re here to shed some light on the truth of the matter.
Windchimes do not scare bats.
While many sounds and smells (as mentioned above) do keep bats out of your home, windchimes do not fall into this category. The reason is simple: the sound emitted by your windchimes are not strong enough nor scary enough to stir bats from their roost.
While some homeowners have reported windchimes as an effective measure against bats in their trees, it’s almost guaranteed bats will become accustomed to the sound with time. So even if it’s an effective measure now, it may not prove to be sustainable over time.
While there are sounds that are effective in keeping bats out of your trees (think ultrasonic sounds), be wary of rummaging around your home for a poor substitute—like windchimes—in the hope that it will solve your issue. You’ll be sorely disappointed!
Steer Clear of Mothballs
Mothballs are a common bat deterrent. Why? Mothballs release a strong stench that contains a pesticide. While this is effective in your sweater drawer, it can be harmful to your yard.
Steer clear of the advice that says to stick moth balls in your trees: you may end up with a damaged garden!
That’s A Wrap!
So now you know what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to keeping bats out of your trees! Remember to mix and match these strategies to find what works best for your yard.
If you’re still unsure about how to tackle bats in your trees, consider reaching out to a professional to hear an approach more personalized to your needs.
Kincaid, Stephen P. “The University of Nebraska – Lincoln Digitalcommons@University of Nebraska …” University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Digital Commons, Dec. 1975.
Rowse, E. G., et al. “Dark matters: the effects of artificial lighting on bats.” Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of bats in a changing world. Springer, Cham, 2016. 187-213.
Long, R., W. Kiser, and S. Kiser. “Well-placed bat houses can attract bats to Central Valley farms.” California Agriculture 60.2 (2006): 91-94.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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