Bats have been long-term maligned, miscast as descendants of witches, associated with bad things and black magic, and feared for having the false belief that they can get trapped in one's hair. They have been unfairly accused for all these and other similar myths and often reviled and victimized because of them. In reality, these animals are extremely important to the health of the overall environment as well as for our gardens.
Actually, they are the primary nocturnal predator of flying insects such as moths, beetles, mosquitoes and many others. A single bat-hunter can catch up to hundreds of insects in just one hour spent in hunting, consuming 30 to 50 percent of its body weight in insects each night. A colony of bats can be major protection for gardens and crops from big damage that can be caused by pest species such as moths, cucumber beetles, cut-worm, corn ear-worm, leaf-hoppers, or June beetles.
However, the scarcity of suitable roosting sites for bats threatens their survival. A great way to help bat populations is by putting up houses for them. There are some requirements that bats look for and in order to increase the chance of enticing bats to take up residence in your well placed house you can consider the following:
• Mind that temperature is a critical factor for bats in roost selection - bat houses need to receive at least ten hours of direct sun warmth each day.
• Bat house should be mounted on poles or on the side of a building that is at least 12 feet (4 metres) above the ground (or even higher). Don't mount bat houses on trees as there they are more difficult for bats to be found, and also more vulnerable to predators.
• Provide bats with water every night - The greatest success in attracting bats is having their houses located less than a quarter mile (400 metres) from a water source, which can be a stream, river, or lake.
• Bats require a clear swoop zone for getting in and out of their roosts. It is the best to avoid placing their house in an area with a lot of obstacles, such as tree branches.
• Try to place two or more houses in one location. This allows bats to better adapt to temperature changes and it is also allowing them to move between the houses as needed.
• Bright lights should be far distanced from the bat houses. Bats can barely stand lights.
• Paint bat houses black or dark brown. This is in order to increase the inside temperature.
• Use untreated wood for making bat houses. Pressure treated wood that might contain chemicals is harmful to bats.
• Rough the inside of bat houses so as to allow bats to grip. Create horizontal scratches or grooves. As an alternative you can attach plastic screening that is flat on the wood surface to avoid any injury to the bats.
• You should caulk all seams, especially those around the roof. This prevents drafts and keeps temperatures stable.
• Instead of nails, use exterior grade or galvanized screws.
As you can see, there are a few things that are important to the natural habitat for bats. But it is actually easy to find bat houses that meet these requirements and all you have to do is find the perfect place to install them.