Now is the time to remove bats from structures, if you need to
You may have noticed, just around dusk, a proliferation of bats darting through the air in your neighborhood.
It’s not because it’s the spooky season, but rather the end of bat maternity season, and the pups are now out flying on their own.
If you’ve had a colony of bats in your home or business structure, now is the time when you can humanely exclude them.
Dr. Shelly Johnson, State Specialized Extension Agent (SSA) in Natural Resources with University of Florida/IFAS extension, is a fan of bats. "Bats are just one of the coolest, most interesting species of wildlife that we have. They're so unique. They're the only mammal that can fly. They have such unique capabilities and and also they're just very underappreciated and feared by a lot of people when they're really not anything that is to be feared."
Florida is home to 13 native species and all of them are protected, including the largest, the Florida bonneted bat. While bats typically roost in trees, caves, or other natural spaces, a colony may take advantage of access to homes and business structures.
During maternity season (April 15-August 15), it is illegal to remove them from your structure. Waiting for fall protects the bat population by keeping them undisturbed while they give birth and raise their young, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Johnson says the best way to relocate the bats is through non-lethal exclusion devices, which you can use yourself or with the help of a professional.
"Basically we seal up most of the openings where we know that they're coming in and out and then put in some one-way doors on the remaining openings," she said. "That allows the bats to leave, but then they can't come back in. After leaving those kind of one way doors up for at least four or five nights in a row, when the when the weather is good then, the bats will have all come out. At that point you can seal up those final remaining openings. "
The Florida Bat Conservation websitesays that bats are beneficial for our environment and our economy. Some help the regrowth of valuable plants by dropping seeds as they fly. Some pollinate plants such as banana, avocado, and fig. And, they can eat up to 3000 insects in a night, including mosquitoes and garden pests.
Johnson recommends that if you need to exclude the bats from your home to consider adding a bat house nearby.
"Bat houses are pretty easy to make. I recommend to build a good house that measures at least a foot and a half by two feet with multiple chambers," she said. "Sometimes you'll see some really tiny houses sold from various places or online, and those houses are probably not going to get used."
Other ways to aid the native bat populations, according to the FWC website, is to preserve the natural roost sites, including trees with cavities or peeling bark, and to leave dead palm fronds and Spanish moss to provide roosting spots.
Learn more about bat exclusions from this webinarfrom Dr. Shelly Johnson.
Bat house designs can be found atfloridabats-dot-org, or download PDF below from UF/IFAS Extension.
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