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Researching how to naturally control insects around our urban homestead I came across BATS!  OK.. bats have a bad rap and treated unfairly by misconceptions and "wives tails".  One of the best things you can do for your garden and the struggling bat population is to build a few bat houses or roosts.

Bats are extremely beneficial and will help keep you and your garden insect pest free.  Bats will eat between 30 and 50 percent of it's body weight in insects nightly.  Ya that's a lot of mosquitoes, June beetles, cutworms, moths, leafhoppers and many other flying insects.  Bats will NOT get caught in your hair and will NOT attach your small dog or turn into a vampire ;o)  Due to loss of habitat and encroachment of urban sprawl, bats are on the loosing end of the battle for survival.  Building a bat house gives them the safe roosting site they need and in turn they will help keep you insect pest free... win/win

Some important line items I've learned while researching:

  • Bat houses should face south and receive about 6-8 hours of daylight a day
  • Bat houses should be mounted on a pole or building 10 to 12 ft high
  • If building on a pole you can mount 2 bat houses back to back facing east/west and the bats can rotate to help regulate temperature
  • Bat houses need to be somewhat close to a water source, approx a 1/4 mile from a small stream, river or lake
  • Bat houses need to be mounted in a location without bright lights at night and free of obstructions at entry
  • Paint or stain Bat house in black or dark brown colors to help heat inside the roost

My son (6yrs old) and I built our Bat House based on a design we saw online and was easy to adapt to scrap wood I had laying around (measurements approx).  We cut and stained all the pieces and spent a rainy Sunday afternoon putting it together:

1 piece of 1/4" plywood (18 wide x 52 long)
1 piece of 1/4" plywood (18 wide x 36 long)
1 piece of 1/4" plywood (18 wide x 10 long)
2 pieces of 3/4" plywood cut (2 wide x 34 long)
1 piece of 3/4" plywood cut (2 wide x 18 long)
1 piece of leftover plastic screen cut (18 wide x 52 long)
Left over bathroom caulk
1 1/4 finishing nails

Staple the plastic screen on the large piece of plywood (18 x 52).  Staple along the edges and make sure the staples are in all the way.  Tap them with a hammer if you need to and bend the back ends in if the staples are too long and go through your wood sheet. Cut the plastic screen to length.

Leaving about an inch from the top, lay down some caulk along the 2 sides and top and mount the 3/4 plywood strips.  Leaving an inch from the top is required so you can have a slanted roof.  We didn't nail them just yet.  Then lay a bead of caulk on the two long sides and top of the (18 wide x 36 long) piece of 1/4 plywood.  Place this piece on top of the 3/4 plywood strips so that you have an air tight 3/4 inch pocket.

Take the last piece of 1/4" plywood, caulk and place just below the top piece leaving about a half inch between.  This space is the vent.

At this point I used the finishing nails front and back to make sure everything stays together.  Caulk the top where we left the 1 inch space so no water or wind can come in and nail the roof.  Since we left that 1 inch space the roof will be slanted allowing water to drip off.  Make sure the roof has an overhang front, back and sides.

I hope the following pictures make sense of the descriptions... either way there are TONS of great writeup online from actual bat preservation and wildlife foundations.  Find one you like, build and enjoy.  I'll post updates when we finally have a bat colony move in!

Hope this was informative and would love to hear if others have implemented bat houses on their urban homestead and how it worked for you.

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