The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Porch bat

Porch bat

Bat boxDespite the fact that we basically live in a swamp, we don't have a terrible bug problem.  Yes, at dusk, the no-see-ums come out, there's a mosquito now and then, and the deer flies get bad down in the floodplain during the dog days of summer.  But, generally, Mark and I can work outside without feeling bombarded by bloodsuckers.

The dragonflies, I'm sure, deserve a lot of the bug-control credit, but so do the bats.  That's why Mark and I were so happy to have a visitor spending a sunny day hidden above the porch rafters.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we made a bat box and collected the guano underneath?" Mark mused.  My very-limited experience with bat boxes involved watching how the boxes around the nature center where I worked as a high school student always stayed vacant, and my boss telling me that he'd never seen a bat box used.  But the idea is so good, I thought I'd ask around --- have you ever seen a bat box with a no-vacancy sign out front?  If so, what was the bat box's design?

Our chicken waterer is the POOP-free treat for a pampered backyard hen.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I built a couple boxes years ago with a scout group. No activity, even though little brown bats were in the area. I followed proper placing, to get morning sun, etc., etc. But no bats in either house. I still have them after moving 5 years ago, but haven't set them up again. They were constructed from 1x6 rough-sawn lumber, were about 2' tall. We scratched up the insides to give even more toe-holds.

I've heard bats don't eat many mosquitoes, mostly moths (not that that isn't good), just different from what many have been told or believe.

Bats always make me happy!n I'm not sure why, partly for insect control, but I also think they are very cute.

Comment by Jim Tue Oct 8 08:13:17 2013

Hey! I am a frequent reader but I tend to lurk rather than comment. However, I really like bats, and have been wishing I lived in a house and not a city apartment so that I could have a bat box (for the summer at least - I believe our bats migrate away from Scandinavia in the winter, it being too cold).

This website had some good links and explanations about how to make a bat house:

P.S. Your visitor is absolutely adorable!

Comment by Veronika Tue Oct 8 08:48:27 2013
My brother in law build a bat box for me 2 years ago. I have yet to see a bat use it. Im told that,in order for theme to use it you need to smear guano around the entrance, which will attract them. I have yet to find a good supply of guano to perform this task.
Comment by TJ Tue Oct 8 09:04:55 2013
We have bats around but none in our bat box. I would love to hear if you get some good suggestions. It would seem that if that guy was that close to your house, you might have better luck getting some to occupy a bat house?
Comment by karyn Tue Oct 8 10:25:09 2013
There is one bat box in Oregon, but it is placed so high, I can't tell if anyone is using it. The last time I was there, three cute bats had moved into the space between a tarp and the concrete blocks of our outdoor shower. It is in almost full sun - I never knew that bats needed so much warmth! I'm going to try more bat boxes (we saw them at dusk flying near our spring's settling pond.) But definitely will try to put the boxes somewhere protected from direct wind, but with lots of light/sun warmth.
Comment by Charity Tue Oct 8 10:52:33 2013
We had a bat house (rather like your diagram but only one section deep) for a few years on our former house. We were sadly convinced that it remained entirely unoccupied. Then we had the house painted and as the painter started removing the bat house a small dark form shot out past him into the woods to continue its day nap. We never noticed any guano.
Comment by NinetyEight Tue Oct 8 11:22:16 2013
Seriously jealous of your visitor. I want one. Do you ever stop to think about just how over the edge we are?... "Let's make a bat box and collect the guano!"
Comment by Karen R Tue Oct 8 18:27:55 2013

Bats are the most common source of human rabies in the United States. Be especially careful when bats are acting sick, incapable of flight, or not afraid of humans. Transmission of the virus happens when saliva (or infected brain tissue) of bats breaks the skin. When "sick" bats were tested, approximately 6% of tested positively for rabies. In the US, in 2010, approximately 6100 people were treated for rabies... unfortunately two were not treated in time: they died.

When placing bat boxes, you might want to make sure that the guano falls well away from habitable areas... and if you are determined to handle bat guano in spite of rabies, wear gloves and keep it out of contact with eyes, mouth, mucus membranes and non-intact skin.

I'll help a sick bird, a sick bat; not so much.

Comment by Leigh Wed Oct 9 01:43:35 2013

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