Bats are fast and agile animals with an insatiable hunger for insects, and can consume hundreds of bugs and mosquitoes in a single night. Perhaps it’s the unknown and secret world of these amazing animals that make people uneasy; and it is this lack of knowledge that perpetuates imaginative myths, negative perceptions and makes them feared, hated and eradicated.
The effect of insect pests on crops is a major problem in agriculture., an estimated 13 per cent of the potential world crop yield is annually lost to pests, with insects being the main culprits. De Hoop Guano Cave in the Cape Province of South Africa is home to the largest aggregation of bats in South Africa, with a calculated 300 000 bats roosting there. This colony consumes an estimated 100 tons of insects annually, making an invaluable contribution to the pest control on farms in the Bredasdorp area. Similar examples are found in other parts of the world, like that of the Brazilian free-tailed bat that preys on Corn earworm moths (Helicoverpa zea).
Bat boxes (or bat houses) are a cost-effective initiative that increases the likelihood of attracting bats to your property, and thereby decreasing the number of insects in your area. Urban residents, lodge or recreational venue owners and farmers, can all benefit greatly from having inhabited bat houses on their properties. It is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way of helping to keep insect populations under control as opposed to the continual use of poisonous chemicals that, apart from being illegal, do not provide an effective long-term solution. If bats living in the roof of a house are poisoned and die, new bats will simply take their place, and therefore it is preferable rather to bat-proof the roof and provide alternative housing for the bats.
EcoSolutions can also deal with bat problems in roofs of houses and buildings by excluding the bats and then offering them an alternative home in the form of a bat house. We have a wealth of knowledge in the supply and installation of bat houses, and are committed to the continuous design improvement to the success and cost-effectiveness of these bat houses.
In addition, nature lovers might enjoy the spectacle of watching bats emerge from a bat house, swooping around them to catch insects with unmatched agility.
Why is my bat box empty?
There are many reasons why bats may choose not to live in a bat box. They are wild animals and, like all wildlife, cannot be totally controlled by humans, or forced to move into a bat house. Current research is increasing our knowledge of the factors that determine whether a bat chooses to live in a roost or not.
If your bat box is empty it may be because:
The bats in the area reside in a nearby safe roost and may decide not to leave their home unless they are excluded from a house roof, for example.
The bat house is being disturbed too much, e.g. shining a flashlight into the house every day or during the night to see if bats have moved in. The house should not be checked more than once a fortnight, but the tell tale signs of occupancy is a collection of guano on the ground below the box.
The bat house is not getting enough sunlight. Shrubs and bushes around the bat house may have grown to such an extent that they prevent sunlight from warming up the bat house. Building a new lapa or other structure in front of the bat house can also block the sunlight, so observe the position of the sun carefully and consider it for all seasons before installing the bat house. Ideally the bat house should be in a position where it can absord the north westerly sun in the late afternoon.
Insecticides in the garden or on crops that are poisonous to mammals when taken orally, may mean the bats have either died from eating insects contaminated by the chemical or they may have moved to safer grounds. Refrain from using obnoxious insecticides; this will benefit the entire environment.
The food source for the bats has decreased. This may happen when insects decline during winter, which is natural, or when large spaces of grassland or bushes have been cleared around the bat house. In both cases the bats will probably return when their food source returns.
Your bat house is too wet or cold inside. This may happen if the bat house is not maintained and rainwater leaks in or the bat house is wrongly positioned. Bats like warm, dry roosts and will move to such a place if their home is too cold and wet. EcoSolutions offers a standard maintenance service with their bat houses.