Bats in the Belfry

Image result for batsEach summer bats take up residence near the entrance to the club house. They are here again this summer. People are expressing concern so I have taken some information from the Arizona Game and Fish website.

Arizona is home to 28 species of bats, more than almost any other state. Bats are the only true flying mammals and are valuable human allies. They are primary predators of vast numbers of insect pests.

Although bats play key roles in keeping insect populations in balance, they are North America’s most rapidly declining land mammals. Declines are often caused by human fear and persecution, and each of us can help by learning how to live with these animals.

While some people appreciate bats and the ways they benefit us, others fear bats because a small percentage of them can expose humans and pets to rabies. Bats should always be kept out of places where people live indoors. Bat guano (feces) can present disease and odor problems. However, bats are generally harmless to humans and are extremely beneficial for controlling insects and mosquitoes and pollinating some plants. Bats are vulnerable to disturbances by people because of their roosting habits and slow reproductive rate.

If bats are in an area, it is probably because they are finding food, water or shelter.

  • Food can include insects that congregate in areas near lights, agricultural or playing fields, ponds or other water sources. Nectar-feeding bats may be attracted to flowering agaves and hummingbird feeders.
  • Water sources can include any pool, pond or lake with a long flying corridor that bats can skim.
  • Shelter can include rough surfaces for hanging. A bump of only 1/16 inch is enough. Bats can squeeze into holes as small as 3/8 inch and are attracted to spaces inside buildings and attics, under bridges, in culverts, behind siding on buildings, in palm trees, and under eaves and porch or patio awnings.

Bats should never be allowed to remain in human living areas. However, bats roosting on the porch, in the yard, or in a bat house are far more beneficial than harmful, and the small amount of guano can be cleaned up or used as fertilizer, in exchange for the reduction in flying insects and mosquitoes.

All bats in Arizona are protected and cannot be collected or killed. Proper exclusions may be performed where necessary.

  • It is unlawful to use pesticides or other chemicals directly on bats.
  • Bat exclusions should be done only with the advice of the Arizona Game and Fish Department or a wildlife control business, and should not be attempted during the maternity season (generally May through September) to avoid separating mothers from their young.

On a lighter note, if you don’t want the problem of mosquitoes, befriend the bats. Also, put on a mask and some gloves and gather the guano for your gardens. You can find instructions on the internet on how to apply it.  It could also become an income stream for the RSA!

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