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How to Manage a Bat Problem in Your Home

January 16, 2018

Normally, when you have trouble with a pest like mice, termites, or ants, you can call a pest control company to come and take care of the problem with traps and insecticides. However, bats take the challenge of pest removal to a new level. Bats are a protected species in Illinois. It's illegal to kill or harm bats, even if they are threatening your home.

If you discover bats roosting in your house, then you might feel like your hands are tied. Fortunately, pest control companies can still help you get rid of bats without endangering or hurting the bats. Here's what every homeowner needs to know about bat behavior and how a bat problem can be managed. 

Why Are Bats Protected?

If bats are so pesky to have in a home, some homeowners wonder why they have such steep legal protection. Bats are an at-risk animal in the United States. While bats normally roost in caves and rock cavities, their natural habitats are threatened by human visitors who spread diseases to bat populations. 

Bats help with pollination of plants and they are vital to controlling insect populations in the Midwest, especially mosquitos. Bats are beneficial animals. Moreover, unlike other pests such as mice, bats have trouble bearing and nurturing enough young to sustain themselves, especially because of habitat loss. 

What Harm Might Bats Cause in a Home?

If bats are so beneficial, why are they pests? Unfortunately, they pose a number of risks to homes and homeowners including:

  • Respiratory illness. Bat urine and droppings can cause a disease known as Histoplasmosis. This illness is caused by a fungus that grows on bat guano and the spores spread and can be inhaled. This serious medical problem requires extensive treatment. For people with allergies, the symptoms can be even more severe. 
  • Rabies. While very few bats are actually rabid, they are a carrier for rabies, and it's not possible to tell which bats have rabies and which do not. Some animals can be carriers for rabies for months before manifesting any symptoms. Rabies affects humans and household pets and it can be deadly. 
  • Structural Damage. When bats roost in an attic area, they leave droppings and urine behind. The weight and moisture of this excrement can lead to structural damage as supporting joists and ceiling materials absorb the moisture and begin to rot. Bats can have large colonies, so droppings can accumulate quickly. 
  • Parasites. Some bats carry parasites like fleas and lice that can affect household pets. 

Bats are useful animals to the ecosystem, but they are a pest to humans and homes.

What Are the Signs of Bat Activity?

Unfortunately, some people do not realize they have a bat problem. Bats can move in and you might not hear or see them. Some early signs of bat activity include:

  • Increased outdoor sightings. Do you often have bats around your home at night swallowing insects as your entertain during summer twilight hours? Bats are more active at night, so this is the time they’ll leave the house to scout for food. 
  • A smell of ammonia. Bat droppings, or guano, smells strongly of ammonia. You might notice the smell before you see any droppings or any bats.
  • Chirping. Do crickets seem more active in your area? Most people don't know what a bat sounds like, but they communicate with chirps or squeaks. They might almost sound like a squeaking air conditioning or even a wheel that needs to be greased. If you hear chirping, don't write it off as noise from the outdoors. 

If you notice any of these signs, you should call a pest control company to request an inspection. If you allow a bat colony to roost for a long time, it becomes harder to correct the damage.  

What Methods Can Be Used to Remove Bats?

In Illinois, the law prevents people from killing, trapping, or removing bats. You also cannot separate a baby bat from its mother, because this means the baby will die. Fortunately, bats are migratory, which means they will not live in your house year round. The way to keep bats from living in your home is to exclude the colony after it is has moved out. 

Exclusion may seem simple, but it is actually very challenging to properly exclude bats. A pest control company with experience working with wildlife can professionally fix your home to be exclusionary toward bats. This process includes sealing off entrance points. Entrance points can be hard to pinpoint, but bats leave telltale signs behind of where they exited and entered the structure. 

When the bat colony returns to the roost for the next summer season, they will not be able to enter a home that has been properly fortified, forcing them to find another place to live. 

For more information on handling bat activity in your home, contact us at American Pest Control Inc.