Eliminating Bats: Dispelling The Myth

The very thought of a bat gives some people the heebeegeebees. Not surprising, considering all the bad publicity they've received, even before the time of Bram Stoker's famous (infamous by bat standards) 19th century novel, Dracula. A simple connection between horrific blood-sucking night-stalkers, and real vampire bats, made by an ordinary Irishman more than a hundred years ago, has contributed hugely to myths about bats. What they really need is some really good PR.

The Bat Problem: Don't Drive That Stake In Just Yet

Before you get out your Beretta Px4 Special Duty .45 ACP with the monogrammed silver bullets, give a moment to consider what benefits they bring to the environment. Bats are one of the best insect control mechanisms known to man. If not for their presence, and that of similar insectivores, we'd have a major bug problem on our hands. In fact, their echolocation system is so effective that they have been known to catch and eat up to 600 mosquitoes in an hour, and all this while flying. They are a valuable and highly functional part of the ecosystem, and any imbalance in their numbers would have an adverse domino effect on the environment. Their second valuable contribution is guano, or bat manure. This nitrogen-rich fertilizer is actually harvested in many parts of the world and profitably bought and sold. Another relatively unknown use of bats is the commercial rearing of the South American varieties of vampire bats, whose saliva contain an extremely powerful anti-coagulant (a compound that prevents blood from clotting), and is therefore very useful in treating heart attack and stroke patients. The compound is known, to no one's surprise, as Draculin. And finally, these humble creatures are also the only known pollinators of the plant known as Agave Tequilana - no prizes for guessing what that contributes to any respectable bar worth its salt (and lime). (Hint: Tequila)

Getting Rid Of Bats: Easy Ways To Chase Them Away

Ok, so you're not convinced that you need to leave well enough alone and your problems are bigger than the ecosystem, South American commerce, and the global liquor shortage combined. Let's now take a look at some simple methods of doing away with bats that are bothering you. If they're in your attic, you can be sure that they didn't just transmogrify from some left-over fairy dust. There had to be an entry point. Locate that, and you've solved your problem. Temporarily seal the known breach at night, after sunset when they've left to hunt for food. You may need to stay up and do this late at night, just to make sure that any stragglers have the chance to leave as well – you don't want them to starve to death. Do this for several consecutive nights to make sure they're all gone, and then permanently seal the breach. Alternatively, you can also use what is known as a one way device, which will allow them to get out, but not come back in. There's an important thing to keep in mind when you use this method. Mid-August is usually the time when the bat babies, or pups as they are known, are ready to fly and feed with their mothers. If you do this anytime before that, you could be an unwitting cause of their death. For bats that are outside a building, you can put a handful of mothballs in a muslin cloth (or cheese cloth) and hang it near where they usually roost. You could consider using a bat repellent in the area at night when they're not around. You can also try hanging strips of tin foil that move in the breeze – they don't like that. But no matter what Mr. Stoker claims, garlic doesn't work so don't waste your thyme either.