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From the February 2008 Conservationist

bats flying around bat house

Bats Wanted

Building a bat house

By Al Hicks and Eileen Stegemann

Why build a bat house? The simple answer is because having bats in the area is an easy way to observe nature at her finest, and the bats will provide a guaranteed show every warm evening of the summer season. Bats are insect eating-machines that may help keep troublesome insect populations in check. In addition, providing bat houses is one method of encouraging bats to relocate their colonies out of buildings.

The key to a successful bat house in the northeast's cooler climate is to keep the house hot. Be sure to seal the upper portions so that warm air cannot escape, paint the house a dark color, and place it in the sunniest location you have that is near cover and not far from water. Maintenance, such as repairing a warping exterior that no longer traps warm air, will be an issue over time, so consider providing some kind of protective cover.

In New York, bat houses are most likely to attract either little brown or big brown bats.

So grab a hammer and join the growing number of people who have discovered how nice it is to have bats around. You'll love watching their evening aerial acrobatics, and they might even keep your mosquito population in check!

Visit Bat Conservation International's website http://www.batcon.org/ for additional information on bat houses like the one on the right, or constructing other styles such as the simpler, less expensive rocket box type.

Photo: Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International