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Omaha Magazine

Banishing Bats with Care

Jun 21, 2023 04:22PM ● By Patrick McGee
Banishing Bats  with Care Nebraska Wildlife Rehab’s Laura Stastny Sheds Light on Ethical Bat Removal green home july august 2023

Photo Provided.

The living room light flips on, and from the shrinking shadows a frantic shape darts forth—dodging swinging broomsticks and curses until, mercifully, it finds its way out. Many Omaha homeowners have experienced this startling surprise—a bat indoors. Of course, no one want bats in their homes, but these leather-winged critters are not simply pests to be exterminated. They are beneficial to humans in many ways, including thinning the pesky mosquito population and controlling devastating crop pests. Bats shouldn’t live in our homes, but they should be removed with care.

Laura Stastny, the executive director of Nebraska Wildlife Rehab (NWR), advises that many bats are legally protected. In fact, one of the species found near the Omaha metro is listed as critically threatened. 

“As a result, humanely excluding bats from one’s home by creating escape routes for them, and subsequently sealing up entryways, is the preferred method of removal,” Stastny said. “As with all wildlife, encourage them to move out on their own, then repair damage to exclude them.” 

If you suspect that bats have infiltrated your home, watch/listen for these telltale signs: bat droppings, or guano, left behind near the possible entry site; chirping or scratching sounds in the wall or attic; stains left behind by the oil on their skin; and bat sightings near your home's eaves at sunrise or sunset.

DIY homeowners can refer to batcon.org for simple, step-by-step instructions on ethical bat removal.

Know when to banish bats. 

In Nebraska, bat exclusions may only be performed from mid-April to mid-May, and mid-August to mid-October, noted Stastny. Exclusions performed outside of the accepted timeframes leave baby bats without parental care, causing starvation and death, or subjecting bats to temperatures they are not equipped to handle. Homeowners cannot, and should not, attempt to banish bats outside of the given timeframes.

Know where bats are getting into the home. 

Bats frequently enter older homes in small crevasses, resulting from shifting construction, Stastny said. They often enter between chimney inserts and chimneys. It’s important to look for uncapped chimneys, broken siding, and loose vent covers. Stastny said most of the larger home bat colonies she's seen in the metro are east of 84th Street, predominantly in older homes composed of brick and wood with crevasses that are exposed and visible to the eye. Stastny has observed the greatest density of bat colonies in old buildings near 42nd and Dodge, in North Omaha, and Downtown Omaha. Bat colonies thrive in the old, shifting, brick constructions common to these areas.

There are eight species of bats that inhabit eastern Nebraska, but those that inhabit local human dwellings are typically of the big brown (Eptesicus fuscus) species. Big browns are “crevasse dwellers,” adapted for caves. 

“Crevasse dwellers like tight, safe spaces,” Stastny said, adding that the crevasses in old homes are ideal for these cave-loving bats. “They prefer the tight space between the interior and exterior walls and are unlikely to hang in a wide-open attic (contrary to popular depictions).”
Banish the bats. 

Homeowners can either follow simple instructions to build and install one-way bat doors into entrance points, wait for bats to leave, and seal up these access area; or call in the professionals (do not call an exterminator!) NWR and Nebraska Humane Society can provide limited help with unwanted bats, but for full-service bat roost exclusions, Stastny recommends Heartland Humane Bat Removal.

Bats should be removed with care, Stastny reiterated. Do not seal them in or they will enter the living space in an attempt to escape, or worse yet, starve to death.

A single ¼ oz. to 1 oz. bat eats roughly 1,000 insects a night, many of which are mosquitos or unwanted garden pests. Once properly banished from the home, bats will continue to control insects—from a distance, in the darkness, and out of sight.  

For more information on local bat exclusions, visit nebraskawildliferehab.org.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2023 issue of Omaha Home magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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