Bat infestation in the attic is a phrase which sounds like a sentence to many homeowners. Upon hearing these words you literally want to move all the residents, pets and valuables and run in search of a new home, especially if a large colony of these animals has settled. The reason for this is that many rumors surround bats, and these flying creatures are supposed to be feared, the more so few people know how to get rid of them properly.
The biggest myth about bats is that they are vampires feeding on human blood. In most cases it is not true. Yes, there is a separate sub-species, which prefer specifically blood (note that we’re speaking about animal blood, not human one). This species is dangerous and can carry diseases, but you’ll have to try hard to encounter them and to attack in order to get bitten for sure. The vast majority of bats that inhabit human accommodations feed on insects (mosquitoes, flies, etc.), or, less frequently, on small animals such as frogs. Therefore, these pests are not exactly pests. They can be "tamed" and you can build special bat shelters for them (refer to our separate article covering the best bat houses). Still, there are species that feed on fruit, and they can cause damage to horticulture. As you understand, it is preferable to repel such creatures from your territory. This is what we will talk about today.
If you try to repel them at the wrong time of the year, then in spring you will discover that your place has become a shelter for midges, mosquitoes and various beetles. It’s an unpleasant surprise, isn’t it? To avoid this, we have prepared for you this guide about getting rid of bats wisely. In the beginning we will tell you about their habits and life, how to smoke them out of your attic, and will teach you what to do if a bat flew into your house. Then we’ll find out which repellents work against them, and which don’t.
Table of Content:
- Helpful Bat Facts, Which You Have To Know Before Getting Rid Of Bats
- Why Are Bats Useful?
- Bats in the Attic: The Best Bat Control Methods
- Which Bat Repellent is the Best?
- What Should You Do If You Find a Bat in Your House?
- How Dangerous Are the Bats? Bat-Transmitted Diseases
If you are tired of waking up every night from the rustle of wings and if you are afraid to send your child to bring something from the attic (and are afraid to go there yourself), then here’s what you need to know:
- Bats don’t build nests, that’s why they settle in places already inhabited by humans, such as attics, chimneys, towers, barns, and they often fly into the living rooms of houses, settle in ventilation and balconies. They can also settle in abandoned buildings and even under the bridges.
- Bat breeding is usually delayed, as after conception in winter the offspring will emerge only in May and June. End of the summer is the most critical time as that's when the young begin to fly, so you may find that the population bats sharply doubled.
- The colonies consist almost entirely of females. Every year, they give birth to about one pup, but some may have 2-3 of them.
- Bats, like their distant non-flying cousins mice, are very agile and nimble: a slit of the size of ⅜ of an inch would be enough for them get into the house.
- Bats sleep during the day, and at night they fly away in search of food and water. They can endure several flights during the night. They use echolocation to navigate around, but they are not entirely blind, despite the popular stereotype.
- Bats can transmit dangerous diseases if they bite you, such as rabies, dangerous Marburg and Ebola viruses. Fleas, ticks and other parasites can live on bats, but they are particular as they are well bound with the host and are not dangerous to humans. According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists, “No evidence exists of disease transmission to humans or domestic pets from bat parasites. Parasites that remain after bats have been removed from buildings soon die without their hosts”. For more information about danger of bats, and what diseases they carry, refer to thevery end of our guide.
- In many countries bats are protected by law and cannot be shot or poisoned.
The main use of bats is that they can eat up to 600 mosquitoes per day, which is confirmed by the University of Kentucky scientists.
Insect slaughter is not the only benefit of bats. The same Kentuckian scientists have discovered that bats are engaged in pollination and seed dispersal of wild fruit, such as bananas, agave, peaches, figs and many others. They thus contribute to the preservation of the ancient plant species and to the birth of new ones. Theoretically, bats may help your future and garden crops.
Over 45 types of bats exist in the USA, and all of them are insectivores (with few exceptions). Each state has its own bat species, and many of them prefer living out in the wild and in the caves. If you have a bat colony at home, it is most likely the Little Brown Bat or Big Brown Bat in the North and Mexican free-tail bat, and Evening bat in the South.
This classification is conditional, but you do need to know the type of bats inhabiting your attic in order to get rid of them. What is important is:
- The methods which can be used against bats
- When they can and cannot be used
As a rule, the bats settle in the attics closer to the summertime, when the females which represent the majority the colony, prepare to give birth. Of course, these intruders may just fancy your home in the winter, but most often you’ll find the signs of bat infestation, such as night rustle, fur debris and feces on the roof, as well as a sharp decrease in the amount of harmful insects in the yard in April and May.
You are likely to enjoy the absence of mosquitoes, but the first thought that will come to your mind will probably be: “How to get rid of these creatures? What if they bite me? How am I supposed to live in this house?” Remember, you can’t just go up to the attic and drive these animals outside.
NB! Don’t try to get rid of the bats when they feed their newborns: you’ll only drive out the adults and newly born ones who are not yet able to fly, will stay in the attic and die slowly which is inhumane, and forbidden by law. Moreover, dead bats will make your attic insanitary and pathogenic. Therefore, in the summer you’ll have to accept the fact that you are not alone in the house.
But sooner or later the autumn will come, and that's when it will be possible to take vital action:
- Find the loopholes that bats use to get into your home, be it the flow-through ventilation in the attic, the chimney, open windows, the hole at the junction of walls and roof, or the gaps in the walls and siding. They can use all of this. As mentioned above, a narrow slit will be enough for them to slither inside and dwell within.
- Wait until the nightfall for these terrible creatures to fly away in search of food. Seal all the entrances and exits, which bats can use, so they cannot fly back. To do this, you can use the moderately priced sealants and versatile flexible metal nets like Reflective Bird Repellent Scare Tape - 2 "X 125 'Holographic Red / Silver Flash Ribbon - Effective Bird Deterrent and Bird Control ( at the best price of ~$11.79) and Copper Mesh 20 'Rats, Mice, Birds Control for ~$12.50. Hurry up, but first make sure that no bats are stayed behind the attic.
- In no case try to hammer the attic or throw poison there as it is forbidden by the laws of many states. Once you deprive the bats of the opportunity to return to the nest, clean up the attic. Bats leave a lot of feces, hair and visible secretions, as well as uneaten insect shells, and you have to get rid of these wonders as soon as possible.
There are other options as you can merely scare the bats off and then these creatures will flee away from you. We’ll describe below the best bat repellents.
Let’s first figure out what repels and scares off bats in general, and then we’ll pick the most effective DIY or ready-to-use control products.
University of Missouri scientists claim that the following products are bat repellents:
- Flake or crystal naphthalene. It is important to use correct concentration, as the experts recommend using 5 pounds of the substance for 2000 cubic ft (for indoor use). Vapors will repel the animals over and over again until the unpleasant odor does is ventilated away. Then you’ll need to redo the treatment. By the way, it’s better for people to also stay away from the naphthalene vapor as it is very, very dangerous. Therefore, it cannot be used in the living room and should be applied while wearing special protection.
- Bright light, lanterns and fire. These are not the most efficient repelling methods, but they do still have certain effect on the antagonists of this article. Biologists recommend to lighting the bats’ nests with them. They won’t land on the lit area. The main thing is not to leave the any dark spots, so make sure you invest into quite a few 100-watt bulbs for a large attic.
- Using drafts from electric fans is another environment-friendly bat repelling method. The drafts are supposed to be carefully directed. What are the disadvantages, you might ask? You’ll need several fans and you’ll have to keep them on for the whole night, which is a waste of energy and a nasty sound close by.
And what about the aerosols, sprays and ultrasound, you will ask? Researchers have a number of questions regarding such products.
- Aerosols and sprays. They are still available on the market. But the experts of the Missouri Department of Conservation doubt their action: «Not recommended. None are known to be effective». Poisonous sprays cannot be used at all as after being treated with them, the animals are unlikely to survive.
- Ultrasound. The same researchers claim that it doesn’t work. Theoretically, if the devices operated with increased intensity at the frequency of bat communication (30 to 100 kHz), this method would be useful. But expecting precision from the cheap Chinese products (as no others are sold) means overestimating them.
- Traditional methods. In this regard, the experts’ opinions are ambiguous. It is known that garlic is surely useless. Noise screens and "boogie men” do not seem credible to the scientists either. The Missouri Department of Conservation staff, however, advises using a noise maker made of finely chopped aluminum as an "additional measure".
What else can be matched to the rules of the game? To be honest, there are few options, and here they are.
Naphthalene Balls, Moth Balls, Snow White, Toilets, Cupboards, Books, Cloth Mothballs- 50 Balls 100g Pack
These are mere proven naphthalene balls produced by a worthy manufacturer. What is there to be done with them? The classic manual states that you have to place a glass balls on a square of gauze of 10x10 cm size. Hang it in a shape of a bag near the bats’ nesting, and repeat this maneuver once the nasty smell erodes.
Price: ~$6.90 Check the current price
If you live in Bruce Wayne’s house and you need LOADS of balls, invest in the 200x Naphthalene Naphthalin Naphtha White Tar Mothballs Flakes Camphor 400g. You’ll get almost half a kilo (more specifically, 400 balls each of which weighs a gram. This will be enough for a full-scale war against the bats) of this treasure for only ~$16.20, There are no buyers’ complaints, so we conclude that the concentration of this harmful substance is high enough.
Price: ~$16.20 Check the current price
BY THE WAY: the Connecticut experts remind us that these balls are harmful for both humans and animals. So be careful with them and observe all the necessary precautions.
Enough of the naphthalene talk, let’s look for other high-rated repellents.
BONIDE PRODUCTS 876 4-Pack Bat Repellent
Bonide is a very reliable brand, which makes a lot of high-quality repellents against other pests as well. How does their product work exactly? It has an average rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com, but we still doubt the effectiveness of this product. The problem is that the Bonide outdoor repellent contain such an active ingredient as peppermint oil. And no official research has succeeded in proving its impact on bats. In this way, even some of the positive customer reviews do not let us recommend this repellent to you. But this should not prevent you from trying to use it as of all repellents available it is the only one that’s claimed to be a special bat repellent. Moreover, its price is cut-rate.
Price: ~$10.97 Check the current price
If you’re willing to take a risk and try the extraordinary ultrasonic treatment, then pay attention to such products as BIRD-X Transonic PRO Electronic Insect Bug Ants Rat Mouse Bat Repeller Repellent for ~$49.15. The lack of customer feedback makes us doubt its effectiveness, nevertheless.
It turns out that we failed to find anything better than naphthalene, which is still hazardous. This is why we’ll try to learn repelling the bats without using artificial chemicals.
We encounter bats at home in cases: either an individual bat flies in accidentally, or the homeowner faces a whole bat colony somewhere in the attic. Now that we have explained to you how to deal with the bats settled in the attic, let’s figure out what to do with the individual ones.
As a rule, these are young and inexperienced bats. They learn to fly in the late summer and often fly somewhere they shouldn’t. Less often the bats visit you during migration and on the eve of winter, when seeking shelter from the cold. Do not deprive them of life; help to get out of trouble instead.
What should you do if a bat flew into your window or open door?
- First, the take children in another room, and remove pets from the premises. They can attack the bat, and get seriously injured.
- The easiest option is to open the window, turn off the lights and leave the room. The animal will calm within 10-15 minutes and will find a way out on its own.
- What if the animal continues to fly? Margaret Brittingham, Professor of Wildlife Resources recommends a time-tested method. She recommends waiting for the bat to land on a flat surface. You should then cover it with a box or a jar and wait for the animal to calm down. After that you should just stick a thin piece of cardboard between the trap and the surface, in this way you’ll be able to take the bat outside. All these manipulations are to be done while wearing heavy gloves to avoid bites and other wounds.
- It’s better to release the bat at night. During the day it won’t be able to find a proper asylum and is likely to die. If you caught by a bat awakened from its hibernation in winter, then never send it outside. It is necessary to show the creature to a vet or keep it in the house until the warmer days come.
IMPORTANT! If you find a bat sleeping in your room, do not panic and do not throw it out the window at once as you’ll harm it. Instead, the experts advise you to put the gloves on and to hold the bat in your hands so that the numb animal would wake up. You can release it afterwards.
Apart from exuding the toxic ammonia, bats can also transmit dangerous diseases.
Histoplasmosis in bat guano
This is probably the most common and nasty disease associated with bats. All in all, histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease that causes fungus histoplasma camsulatum capsulatum. Actually it inhabits the soil in different warm regions. But it is the bats and birds that often transmit it to humans through their guano. All you have to do is to merely breathe beside it, inhale the dangerous fumes and the fungus will get in your body. It’s easy to stir the spores as you only need to step on the dried feces or crush them with something.
The symptoms of histoplasmosis resemble those of the flu, excluding the fever and complications on vision, heart or hearing. The experts from the Department Of Conservation of Missouri advise wearing a respirator or a mask when cleaning up the bat feces.
Bats and rabies
Getting contaminated with rabies by the bats is quite a real threat. However, Margaret Brittingham, the Professor of Wildlife Resources states that the danger is somewhat exaggerated. For example, the bats often carry rabies at the stage of paralysis and complete peace of mind, rather than at the stage of constant aggression. Still, everything is possible, although sometimes people take the usual "nutty" flight trajectory of this mammal for rabies.
As a rule, rabid bats attack anything they see. Fortunately, the infected animals live only for 4-5 days, but during that time they can bite you. Very often an absurd situation occurs: a weakened bat is lying on the ground at its deathbed, and a human grabs it with bare hands in order to save it. The bat would naturally scratch the poor soul, and thus infect them with rabies. Hence, an important rule is to never touch bats with bare hands.
We mentioned them in the very beginning of our articles: the parasites infesting the bats die immediately after the latter disappear from your place. The bat fleas, for instant, only live on said mammals, and humans and pets shouldn’t therefore fear flea bites. The same is true for other parasites, they are strictly specific. However, if you want to be 100% safe, you can use Diatomaceous Earth as a hedge: sprinkle the bats’ nest with it once you get rid of them.