What can homeowners do if bats decide to roost in their attics? The only long-term control method is to bat-proof the home. All bats should be outside the building before the entrance points are sealed (implement control efforts at night). Bat-proofing should be attempted as soon as an unwanted colony is detected, except during early summer when young flightless individuals may be present. Trapped bats will soon die, creating foul odors.
Main access points to structures are found by observing the animals leaving the building at dusk. Bats may enter an opening as small as 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches. Cracks or crevices can be sealed with caulking compound. Larger openings can be covered with metal flashing or 1/4-inch mesh hardware wire. One primary hole should be kept open until bats exit for the evening, then it can be temporarily closed with a wad of aluminum foil. Trapped animals will leave the following evening if the seal is removed at the normal exit time. After checking for remaining individuals, the opening can be permanently sealed.
Bats will seek other entry points, so the building should be checked each evening for several days. Installation of lighting in roost areas will also discourage bats (install wires properly to avoid fire hazards). The lights should be left on 24 hours a day for several weeks. Increasing ventilation to decrease temperatures may cause bats to leave in some cases.
Mothballs may repel colonies in confined areas with poor ventilation. Recommended application rates are usually high, and vapors could reach living areas, posing a health hazard to humans. Ultrasonic devices have not effectively repelled bats.
To remove a single bat from an occupied room, turn the lights on and open the window. Usually the bat will leave on its own without handling. If this doesn't work, wait for the bat to land and cover it with a coffee can. Slide cardboard under the can, and release the bat outdoors if it has not contacted humans or pets.
Another natural worker
There's another creature that's a garden worker to attract -- and this one is much prettier. Butterflies pollinate the garden and are wonderful to see fluttering from flower to flower. If you want an easy way to attract more of these critters to your garden, Duncraft makes a "Butterfly Feeder."
Now, I'm not so sure of this one -- I like to plant the right flowers to attract the butterflies naturally. But this feeder (which looks a lot like a hummingbird feeder) can be filled with nectar (which Duncraft also sells, by the way) or stocked with overripe pieces of fruit. It's made of dishwasher-safe polycarbonate and is eight inches in diameter, and comes with a built-in seven-inch hanging hook and an "ant moat."
Here's what caught my eye -- the email said, "Butterflies use their tongues to sip nectar through the tiny holes in the lid." I didn't know butterflies had tongues, but that's what they call the tubelike proboscis that's used to suck nectar from flowers.
The feeder is $19.95 at www.duncraft.com.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.