Right about now bats may be finding their way into attics, garages or even living quarters.
Such was the case of my next-door neighbor’s house who we playfully called “The Bat House” because every summer it seemed, she got a bat or two in her house. And since the top floor of her home is an apartment, she has no attic where a bat could enter.
She surmised that either bats came in from her chimney, or at night when a door was opened in her enclosed patio and she wouldn’t notice it right away. There was no other explanation why her home and not ours or her neighbor on the other side of her house, had bats.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) says there are nine species of bats that live at least part of the year in northeastern U.S. and two southern species reside infrequently in Pennsylvania. The agency claims these bats occasionally enter homes most often during summer evenings in mid-July and August. These wayward bats, they contend, are usually pups (baby bats) that are just beginning to fly.
As with my elderly neighbor, the bat would fly in circles around her living room evidently looking for a place to escape or rest.
While there are stories of bats attacking people, getting in their hair while they sleep, they could conceivably carry rabies.
But bats are useful as they can consume as many as 500 insects in an hour or nearly 3,000 every night. A colony of just 100 little brown bats, the most abundant species in the Northeast, may consume more than a quarter million mosquitoes and other small insects each night.
Research has shown that over a course of a summer, a colony of 150 brown bats can eat 38,000 cucumber beetles, 16,000 June bugs, 19,000 stink bugs and 50,000 leafhoppers, and can prevent the hatching of 18 million corn rootworms by devouring the adult beetles.
So, if you get one in your residence, how do you get rid of it?
The PGC says to not chase or swat at it as it will only cause it to panic and fly erratically around the room. Instead, shut all doors to confine the bat then open all windows or door leading outside to give the bat a chance to escape. Don’t try to herd it toward a window, just allow it to get its bearings until it discovers the open escape route. Within 10-15 minutes the bat should settle down and fly out.
If this doesn’t work, and the bat rests on a wall, the PGC suggests quickly putting a large plastic bowl over it and then slide a piece of rigid cardboard between the bowl and wall to trap it, then carry it outside. Here, it’s recommended to place the container on the ground such as a ledge or against a tree, and slide the cardboard out. Unlike birds, most bats must drop from a perch to catch air under their wings before they can fly.
As for my neighbor (who has passed and would comically say bats drove her batty), she used to use a close-knit fishing net to capture the bat in a similar way, then release it outside.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.