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Banishing the bats, part 1

Here's the post-inspection update on the bat situation (see "More battiness" on 5/30/2005).

Good news: The situation is not as bad as I feared or imagined. Matt from Skunkworks found no more bats in my attic, which is the most likely place from which they are getting into my house.

I have an old house -- a 1908 Craftsman Bungalow. It has 1-1/2 stories of living space, and most of the upstairs is finished with two bedrooms and a bathroom. However, there are a few unfinished nooks, crannies and crawlspaces that are closed off from the living space but accessible from the inside -- and probably from the outside as well. The attic gets stiflingly warm in the summer, and this past weekend it was very warm, as the daytime temps climbed up into the high 80s.

He did find a small number of old bat droppings in the attic space at the top of my stairs. It's plausible that they came into the house from here and flew downstairs to the main floor where I found them. There is a small door leading to this space, with about a 1-1/2 inch gap at the bottom of the door. I stuffed a towel into this gap to temporarily seal it off.

The bats I had in my house (he identified the bodies of the bats caught by my neighbors Dale and Jason) were big brown bats, which are fairly common in North America. They like warm spaces, with the ideal temperature being 120 degrees. Big brown bats have much smaller colonies than little brown bats -- the number could be under a dozen. This is good news as well. I had envisioned a horror scene of hundreds of critters roosting in the attic.

According to Matt, these bats may have been spending the colder months in Mexico and are just making their way back up to the Northwest. This is where it gets freaky. Apparently bats from the same colony may not always travel together, but they will take the same path and find the same house once a few have established it as their home. So even though there are no bats in there today, if a few from the same colony make their way up here, they will hone in on exactly the same place.

For the time being, our weather has cooled off into the 60s with rain, so there shouldn't be any activity until it warms up again. The inspection will need to be completed next week with an examination of the outside from the roof area, and an observation of the possible entrance/exit at dusk, when they wake up and begin flying.

Once that part of the inspection is done and conclusions are drawn, the plan will be to seal up all possible outside entrances -- making sure no bats are trapped inside.

After the house is sealed, I'm having the exterior painted later this month. This was already in my plans, but my neighbor and I joked that the bats just won't recognize the house if it's a different color!

So I should be safe from any bat movement in my house through the weekend, according to Matt. I haven't decided, however, if I feel confident enough in that assessment to unpack my bag and resume sleeping there at night.

By the way, much of what he told me seems to contradict what I've found in various searches on the internet. It seems that the more I read, the more uneasy I feel because of differing information such as the size of the colonies, where they migrate and so forth. So I've decided to refrain from any more Google searches and just trust in what he told me as the local expert.

June 1, 2005 in Pest horror stories | Permalink

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