Bats are common throughout the world. The United States alone is home to 47 bat species. A majority of these bat species feed exclusively on insects, with a few species feeding on fruit and nectar. Bats are nocturnal and leave their roosting sites at dusk to spend the night feeding. In the northeast, we only have two bat species that come in contact with humans on a regular basis. These species are the Little Brown and the Big Brown bat.
Once common throughout New England, the Little Brown bat population is down 95-99% from population levels just ten years ago. A fungus brought over from Europe by cave explorers has caused a disease called white-nose syndrome. This disease has decimated bats throughout North America that hibernate in caves during the winter months. The fungus itself does not kill the bat, but rather it causes irritation to the bats and keeps them from achieving full hibernation. Bats affected by the fungus wake often throughout the winter, burning vital energy reserves, resulting in starvation and death. While Little Brown bat populations are at all-time lows, Big Brown bat populations are stable. This may be because unlike the Little Brown bats, Big Brown bats tend to overwinter in structures.
Big Brown bats typically roost in tree cavities, rock crevices, woodpiles, culverts, storm drains, and other areas that provide refuge. Big Brown bats are also a common occurrence in all different types of structures including bridges, barns, office buildings, industrial buildings, schools, and especially residential homes. Bats typically target the attic spaces of homes because they offer a stable environment, allowing for protection from the elements. Bats typically access homes by taking advantage of gaps around the roofline. Some of these areas include the home’s ridge vent, gable and roof vents, soffits, eaves, rake boards, roof returns, plumbing vent collars, and numerous construction gaps around the home. Bats cannot fly directly into openings, but instead will land near the opening and crawl in. Bats are able to navigate through surprisingly small spaces. Generally, any opening over 3/8 of an inch is large enough to allow access.
Once inside structures, bats will typically roost in tight spaces within the attic and not hang from the rafters like many people think. Bat colonies in homes can range in size from just a half dozen bats up to over one hundred. Bats are active throughout the spring, summer, and early fall. Female bats give birth to one or two young in late spring. After birth, young bats are flightless for the first four weeks, after which point they will begin to follow their mother out to feed at night. Unlike the Little Brown bat, Big Brown bats will overwinter in homes, hibernating under insulation or in wall voids.
Unlike most wildlife species, trapping is not an option when it comes to bat removal. At Pest-End, our team of wildlife specialists will perform what is called a “bat exclusion” on your home. During this process our specialists will seal off all possible entry points on your home or business, installing what are called one-way doors over areas that bats are actively using. These one-way doors will allow the bats to leave the structure at night when they go to feed but prevent them from returning. We also offer a warranty with our bat exclusion work.
Bats are an ecologically beneficial species, but their presence in homes can be harmful to our health. Bats can carry rabies, a virus that is almost always fatal unless treated early. Bat droppings can also harbor histoplasmosis spores. Histoplasmosis can cause serious respiratory problems in those exposed. Our wildlife specialists are also trained in attic remediation work that is designed to remove all bat droppings from the attic, restoring a sanitary environment.