They feed during the night. They sleep upside down. And depending on what show you watch they turn into blood-sucking vampires. Yes, we are talking about bats. And no matter how mythical they might seem, they are real and are all over the Houston area. But contrary to popular belief Houston bats aren’t all that bad. In fact, they even help control our mosquito population, and anything that eats mosquitoes is okay with us.
The City of Houston is home to eleven different species of bats, the most common being the Mexican Free Tailed Bat. These are medium size bats that live in caves, under bridges, and in some cases attics. And because of our great climate, Texas has more bats than any other state. But no need to worry because unlike the hype you hear during Halloween, all Texas bats are insect eaters meaning they won’t harm humans unless they feel threatened.
“All bats sleep during the day and people normally see them around dusk or dawn when they fly out of their roost to hunt for food,” said John Moore Services Pest ControlManager Brian Menn. “All during the night they are out searching for and eating bugs and insects, mainly mosquitoes. A regular size bat eats about one hundred mosquitoes a night, so they eat a lot. They eat insects only, not pets, humans, or livestock like most people tend to think.”
If they don’t eat humans, why should I be concerned?
Although they don’t harm humans intentionally they do carry disease, which can cause problems if they decide to roost in your home. A roost is a place where bats congregate during the daytime and because of our large bat population, it is not uncommon for them to roost in an attic of a residential neighborhood.
“I’ve seen a lot of houses that have large bat roosts in their attic, and it doesn’t take a big opening for the bats to get inside, all it takes is one tiny hole and before you know it there are hundreds of bats living in your home,” said Menn. “I had a customer once who found out she had bats because when the sun was going down one evening hundreds of bats started to fly down her chimney into her home. Typically this doesn’t happen because they usually fly out of the hole they used to get inside your home in the first place, but it can, which is why if you do have bats it is important to have a professional remove them immediately.”
Another reason to have them removed is because they are carriers of rabies. And it is impossible to tell which bats have rabies and which ones don’t, so if you have them in your home chances are that some are infected. Also, when you have a roost of bats in your attic they are going to leave behind a large amount of feces. Inside bat feces is a substance called “guano.” It is high in methane, very potent, and is dangerous to inhale. Most people realize they have bats because the smell of guano seeps down into the living area of their home.
How can I remove them?
In Texas, bats are a protected species so killing them is not an option. To remove them professionals use the process of exclusion, which involves sealing up all openings around the home so the bats are unable to get inside.
“First we search the entire home and attic and find all openings, and we seal all of them up except one,” said Menn. “On the last opening we make an enclosure with a one-way door so the bats are able to get out but when they try to come back at dawn they are unable to get inside. We wait a couple days to make sure all bats are out of the house then spray the attic with a professional grade disinfectant called Nisus DSV. This removes all viruses and disease that they left behind.”
When they realize they are unable to get back inside the home they start to search for another place to set up their roost. They have very heightened senses, including eyesight. We have all heard the phrase blind as a bat, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. They can smell, see, and hear extremely well, and their senses help them to quickly find another place to live. And that is a good reason to make sure your home doesn’t have any openings, because you never know when a group of bats in your area might be looking for a new home.
As homeowners, you have enough to worry about already and having a bat infestation is not something you want to have to deal with. The Houston pest control experts at John Moore Services can inspect your home, find areas of vulnerability, and seal them up before things get out of control. And remember if you smell or see a bat in your home don’t go near it, because with bats, it really is best to leave it to the experts.