If you’re here, you’ve probably seen a bat or two flying around your yard. You may have even found them in your home. Although bats are often misunderstood creatures, there are some pretty solid reasons for not wanting to share your home with them. What attracts bats to your yard in the first place?
In general, bats are most commonly attracted to:
- Dark places
- Quiet Places
- Insects and Fruit
Keeping your property well lit, properly mowed, and trees trimmed will decrease the amount of bats on your property. If you have many trees, it may be more difficult to keep them away.
The best way to prevent an infestation is to understand what’s inviting bats to your home in the first place. Luckily, we’ve got you covered! Below you’ll find a list of things that could be attracting bats to your yard and what you can do to fix it.
Bats Are Attracted to Dark Places
Bats are attracted to the areas of your home that provide them with a dark place to sleep during the day.
Despite it being a widespread myth, bats aren’t blind. Some species (such as megabats) can see better than humans. Still, because they’re nocturnal, most species have evolved to see better in low-light conditions, which has resulted in a sensitivity to light.
Interestingly, since most bats can see during the day, scientists aren’t exactly sure why they became nocturnal at all. The most accepted hypothesis is that they became nocturnal to avoid competition among other insect-eating animals while avoiding predators. This could also explain why bats dislike bright lights—because bright lights mean predators.
What we do know is that bats spend their days in dark areas that provide safety from predators and a peaceful day’s sleep.
Bats are most commonly found in the following locations:
- Old Buildings
- Hollow Trees
Although these are the common places where they may be found, that doesn’t answer how they are getting in. Luckily for us, there are a few main, consistent ways that bats commonly are using to enter homes.
How To Fix It
Removing every dark area from your home or yard would be impossible. However, there are some things you can do to make these areas less inviting to bats.
Look for bat activity in the evening. As the sun goes down, watch your home and yard for bats. Take note of any place from which you see bats emerging. You can also check out this list of places where bats sleep during the day.
Inspect dark areas for signs of bat activity. If you suspect bats are living on your property, look for signs of bat activity in and around the dark areas of your home. Some of the most common signs are bat guano and the smell of urine.
Install lights in areas where you know bats are sleeping. For example, if you know that bats are returning to your attic to sleep the day away, you can install lights to deter them from coming back. This LED Garage Light from TANBABY can illuminate dark areas during the day and keep bats from returning.
Install mirrors to direct light into dark spaces. You can install mirrors to keep bats out of dark areas such as trees or rock crevices. Use the mirror to direct sunlight into dark places. Just be careful not to create direct beams of sunlight that could start a fire.
Place tin foil or pie pans around areas where bats frequently sleep. For areas where a mirror might not be a good idea, like on a dead tree, you can hang sheets of tin foil or pie pans. The foil will reflect sunlight and create bright flashes of light, which will scare bats away from the area.
Bats Are Attracted to Quiet Places
Bats love quiet areas where they can hunt using echolocation and sleep undisturbed during the day.
In addition to good eyesight, bats have excellent hearing, which they use to hunt for prey. According to Arizona State University, bats use echolocation when hunting for food in dark or low-light settings.
A bat will emit a high-frequency sound, and that sound bounces off an item before returning to them. The bat can then gauge where an object or prey is by how long it took for the sound to return.
When loud noises disrupt their echolocation, some species can change the pitch and tone of their shriek. However, most of the time, they’ll just choose to find a quieter hunting ground.
Echolocation is not the only reason bats prefer quiet areas. Since they sleep when most other species are awake, bats need to find places where they won’t be disturbed during the day.
How To Fix It
Ultrasonic devices are a great way to reduce bat activity around your home.
They work so well that researchers from Texas State University, in collaboration with other industries, have designed an ultrasonic device that can reduce bat fatalities from wind turbines by up to 80% in some species.
Noise devices work because they flood the area with a sound similar to the high-frequency sound that bats produce. This makes it harder for bats to hunt in that location, so they leave to search for a quieter place to find food. The noise doesn’t hurt bats, and humans cannot hear it.
However, you’ll need a specific product designed to repel bats only. You can take a look at this CLEANRTH Ultrasonic Bat Repelling System – but please note a lot of these ultrasonic repellents on the market are hit or miss.
Generally, there isn’t enough information to prove their effectiveness (industry wide.) However, do your research and see if it’s something that may possibly work for your situation.
A quick fact, bats love dark places to reproduce (go figure.) Did you know that bats actually don’t lay eggs?
Bats Are Attracted To Insects and Fruit
Bats are often lured into yards and homes because there’s something there that they want to eat. This could include:
- Sugar water
There are a lot of food sources that can attract bats to your yard. Some of them are things you might want a bat to eat—we’re looking at you, mosquito—but not everyone is comfortable sharing their yard with bats.
How To Fix It
If you’d prefer not to share your home with a family of bats, there are a few things you can do.
Research bat species in your area. Once you find out which bats you might have in your area, you can find out what those species typically eat.
Watch for bat activity in your yard. If you already have bats in your yard, watch to see what they’re eating. Are they hanging out on your berry bushes or swooping around through the air eating insects?
- Don’t plant night-blooming flowers. Night-blooming flowers attract nocturnal insects, and those insects attract bats. Additionally, flowers that bloom at night can attract some species of nectar-eating bats.
- Place compost piles away from your home. Compost piles are another thing that attracts tasty insects. They may also contain fruits and vegetables that some bat species like to eat.
- Reduce mosquito activity by eliminating standing water. Since mosquitoes are a nuisance and transmit certain viruses and diseases, you should do this anyway. But it’s especially important if you want to keep mosquito-eating bats away from your yard.
- Cover fruit plants at night. If you live in an area that fruit-eating bats call home, it’s a good idea to cover your fruit-bearing bushes and trees at night. This Reusable Garden Netting from CandyHome can help keep both bats and insects away from your fruit plants and trees.
Altogether, research ways to eliminate the insects that bats are feasting on. Mosquitos aren’t the only insects that bats eat. Keep an eye on what bats are eating and research ways to remove those insects from your yard.
Bats Are Attracted To Water
Bats need water to survive, and they’ll often choose to roost in areas that are within a quarter-mile of a water source.
According to Colorado State University, some bat species can lose up to 50% of their weight in water each day. So, it’s no surprise that having a steady supply of clean drinking water is a must for a bat trying to find a place to live.
Some water sources are more attractive than others, however, as bats will drink while they’re still in flight.
Instead of landing on or near water to drink, bats swoop down and scoop water into their mouths.
This allows them to avoid predators in wide-open spaces and reduces their chance of drowning. Although bats can swim, it takes a lot of energy, and they often have difficulty climbing back out of the water.
Bats will often be seen drinking from:
- Water towers
- Irrigation tanks
- Feeding troughs
- Irrigation ditches
If you have an accessible water source (especially one that’s visited by a lot of insects), bats will be attracted to it.
How To Fix It
The best way to keep bats from coming to your yard in search of water is to eliminate all water sources from your yard. If you cannot remove the water entirely, covering it is your next best option.
Bird baths are a great source of water. They offer thirsty bats a place to drink, and the baths draw in insects that bats like to eat. But don’t worry. You don’t have to remove them from your garden completely.
A bird bath cover, like this Heavy-Duty Bird Bath Cover from Deosk, can keep your bath covered at night when bats are active.
In addition to bird baths, pools are another place where bats will often grab a drink. While you’re probably not going to tear down your pool, you can cover it during the night to keep bats from being attracted to your yard.
Although it’s a little harder to keep bats away from larger bodies of water, there are some things you can do to keep bats away from ponds on your property.
For example, you can use this Woven Mesh Garden Netting Kit to make a net covering larger areas of water, such as fishponds. It will still allow reptiles in and out but will keep bats from being attracted to the water source.
Why Bats Can Actually Be Good To Have In Your Yard
Although there are some obvious reasons why you would want to avoid sharing your house with bats, they can be great yard neighbors.
Bats are an essential part of the ecosystem. They’re a great source of natural pest control, and some species can help pollinate your garden.
In general, bats are insanely good at controlling insect populations.
You probably already know that bats eat insects, but do you know how many insects a single bat can eat in just one hour? According to information shared by the USDA Forest Service, bats can eat, over 1,000 small insects per hour! And a nursing mother may eat four times that amount.
Given a choice between one bat and thousands of mosquitoes, most people would choose the bat.
In addition to saving you and your garden from insects, some species of bats can help with pollination.
Nectar-eating bats visit flowers to find food and carry pollen from one flower to the next. One of the best examples of this is the Mexican long-tongued bat, which has long been a primary pollinator for the agave plant.
Why Bats Should Never Live In Your House
You might be tempted to allow bats to live in or around your home—especially after finding out how many bugs they eat each night—but allowing bats to live in your house could lead to some big problems.
For starters, bats won’t always stay where you want them to, and they might find their way into your everyday living space. Since they can carry rabies, you really don’t want them nearby in close quarters.
Another problem with allowing bats to live in your home is that they’re not housebroken. Unlike cats, bats aren’t picky about where they potty.
Urine and feces can soak into the wood of your home and cause mold and mildew problems. Additionally, bat guano can harbor pathogens that can become airborne and cause serious some other serious issues.
Finally, bats can cause some significant structural damage. Over time, the wood in your home will become so saturated with urine and feces that it will get soft and start to rot. Bats can also cause problems with the different systems in your home, including the plumbing and electrical systems.
On top of that, the smell of feces and potentially decaying bats can permeate your home’s structure and become a lingering odor that’s extremely hard to remove.
Between the smell, the noise, afflictions, and the structural damage they can cause, it’s always better to keep bats out of your house.
If you do have bats in your home, take a look at our guide on the things to do if you find a bat inside.
How To Attract Bats To Your Yard But Keep Them Out Of Your House
You might decide you want to take advantage of a bat’s appetite, but how can you draw them into your yard while keeping them away from your home?
If you purposely offer the things bats are attracted to, give them a nesting box to keep them from crawling into your house.
Nesting boxes, like this Kenley Double Chamber Outdoor Bat Box, are easy to install and give bats a place they can sleep during the day. Just make sure you put them far away from your home, so the bat doesn’t decide to upgrade its habitat.
Where To Put A Bat Box
According to the University of New Hampshire, bat boxes should be placed at least 10 feet off the ground, away from your home, in an easily accessible place. Trees are great spots, especially dead trees, but make sure there aren’t any branches blocking the bats’ flight path.
The box should be completely lightproof. Seal any cracks or crevices, and use a box with a hole in the bottom. Place the new habitat in an area that gets at least eight hours of direct sunlight a day to ensure the temperatures inside the box are ideal for a roosting bat colony.
How To Keep Bats From Crawling Into Your Home
Bat boxes are a great way to support misunderstood creatures. Still, bats are driven by survival. If your house offers a more suitable environment, bats will go there instead.
Luckily, there are some things that you can do to ensure that bats remain your neighbors and not your roommates!
- Utilize smells that bats don’t like. Bats have a keen sense of smell, and strong scents bother them. You can use essential oils to deter bats away from areas that they might otherwise find inviting.
You can also take advantage of bat repellents like this Mighty Mint Repellent Spray to keep bats away naturally. To find out which scents will repel bats, check out these eight scents that bats hate!
- Keep the doors shut and the window screens in good condition. Sometimes bats end up in your house by accident, and they don’t want to be there any more than you want them there. Make sure this doesn’t happen by shutting doors and ensuring that all open windows have screens.
- Install a bat cone or net. Many species of bats will return to a nest year after year. Installing a bat net or cone, like a flexible bat value, will allow bats to get out of your house but keep them from getting back in. You can use a bat net to cover larger spaces, but be careful not to trap and kill bats.
- Seal cracks and crevices in and around your home. Despite their large wings, bats have relatively few bodies and can fit into small areas. They can crawl into gaps between boards, holes in the roof, gaps around pipes and wires, ventilation ducts, and any other small crevice that leads into your home.
- Replace old siding. In nature, many species of bats will tuck up under the bark of dead trees to find protection. Loose siding offers this same type of protection. Replace areas where siding has come loose or is creating a gap large enough for a bat to fit up under.
- Put screen or mesh on chimneys and other ventilation ducts. Many ventilation areas, such as chimneys, offer both protection and direct access to the inside of your home. It can be hard to keep critters out of these areas because they cannot be plugged.
However, you can use wire or mesh covers to close them off from curious pests. If you want to keep bats out of your chimney, check out this VEVOR Adjustable Metal Chimney Flue Cover!
Should I Just Get Rid of Bats Myself?
If a family of bats is calling your house their home, you may not want to remove them yourself.
Based on all the reasons we said in the previous section, you probably call a professional if you have bats in your home.
Moreover, to protect endangered species, some states have local laws that govern when and how you can remove bats from your home.
For these reasons and more, it’s always a good idea to contact a local professional to talk about your options.
That said, you can utilize the helpful tips above to ensure you’re not attracting bats to your yard or inviting them into your home.
Happy bat repelling!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, March 9). Avoid risk of rabies from bats. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Department of Systematic Biology. (n.d.). Bat facts. Smithsonian Institution.
Hagen, E. (2009, November 5). Echolocation. Arizona State University – Ask A Biologist.
Study-Shows-Ultrasonic-Deterrents-Significantly-Reduce-Wind-Turbine-Bat-Fatalities. (2021, July 1). Study shows ultrasonic deterrents significantly reduce wind turbine bat fatalities. Newsroom : Texas State University.
University of New Hampshire. (2019, March 8). I’d like to buy and install a bat house in my backyard. what should I look for, and where should I place it? Ask UNH Extension.
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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