Bats may be an exciting sight to behold in the wild, but in person they are an absolute nuisance. Even if you are the most ardent fan of bats, unless you want to be driven batty you need to be able to drive them out of your home.
There are many reasons for this, not the least of which being that bats are incredibly unclean houseguests. In fiction, suave sexy rich vampires can transform into bats and back again. In reality, however, bats are highly territorial and fling their feces and spray their urine everywhere – definitely not something you want going on in your attic or crawl space. It may come as no surprise, therefore, that bats are also major spreaders of disease. Even if you’re incredibly kumbaya about bats’ odiferous effects on your home, the CDC and other disease and animal control agencies will want you to get rid of bats. If you’re worried that this will result in the bats dying, rest assured that this is the last thing animal control agencies want. Many bats are a protected species in the United States.
So you need to get rid of the bats, but don’t wish to harm them, which means searching for the perfect compromise in finding things bats avoid in the first place. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top options for driving out bats or preventing them from roosting in your home in the first place.
1. Bright Lights
First and foremost, it is worth remembering why bats roost where they do in the first place. Bats select caves and the hollows of trees in large part because they are dark areas and most species are nocturnal and do not like the light. One of the easiest ways to get rid of bats, therefore, is to make sure they can’t stay there in the first place by making it “too bright.”
This doesn’t mean that you have to flood your home with spotlights, though that is precisely what some churches in Sweden have done to drive bats out of their belfries. Bats may not actually be “blind as a bat” (they can actually see better than us at night), but they are highly sensitive to light, which means a little goes a long way. Keeping moderately-bright lights in your attic or other areas can persuade bats that this is a place best avoided.
2. Moth Balls
If you already have these on hand to prevent moths and other nocturnal insects from nibbling away at your blazer, you’re in luck, because bats don’t like them, either. They are widely available at pest control stores, though your average supermarket and Amazon should have them. Simply hang these balls from a space within the room in which you want to set up your defenses against bats. Alternatively, you can place a dozen or more mothballs in a bowl and place this at the entrance into which you worry bats may enter your home.
Regardless of the method, the success of this measure will depend in large part with how well ventilated the space is. Ideally, you want to find a way to get the smell of moth balls wafting through the entrances and problem areas, which means either placing more mothballs there or getting the scent of a single concentration of them to circulate around these rooms. That said, it should be noted that humans aren’t immune to problems caused by mothballs. While this only applies to mothballs used in huge quantities, it means you can’t just fill a space with a hundred mothballs, and instead places more impetus on making sure that ventilation works so you get the most out of this method.
The fewer mothballs you can use, and the more effectively you can get their odor to circulate through these rooms, the better.
3. Turn up the Heat
This may seem a bit counterintuitive at first. After all, bats prefer warm spaces. That’s part of the reason why they seek out the warmer parts of trees or caves. If you were tasked with flying through the air in your bare skin and a bit of fuzz, you would prefer warmer spaces too.
However, too much of a good thing can go bad in a hurry, and that’s precisely the case with bats. The key here is that while bats enjoy warm environments, they tend not to like ones that are frying hot in terms of the temperature and humidity. Bat hotspots around the world tend to be a lot more humid and moist, so if you’re looking to ward off bats, introducing a dry heat into your home can be a great way to do that. Of course, you hardly want to have to live in an oven, either, but since bats typically frequent areas such as your attic or crawl space, this can still be an option to consider if you don’t spend too much time there. You can also always turn off the heat when you want to use these spaces and then turn it on again during the bats’ roosting season.
4. Sealed Spaces
This isn’t necessarily something bats “avoid” per se so much as something they can’t cross. Bats get into homes primarily by flying or crawling through tiny holes or openings along window sills, walls, chimneys, attics, and similar spaces. Sealing these spaces up can make it impossible for bats to find a way into your home, and so keep them from roosting there. Caulking holes is a good place to start. You may also want to apply special netting or tape that is specifically designed to deal with pests such as bats and keep them from coming in. These tapes in particular typically have a texture or smell on them that the bats do not like (and if they don’t, you can add that), which adds another level to your defense.
If you already have bats in your home, you don’t want to wall them up in there – both for humane purposes and because of the damage or foul odor they can cause in their panic – which means you have to create a safe way to let them out without letting them in again or coming near them.
To accomplish this, you might want to set up an exclusion device. These have tubes that run about 2 inches in diameter by 10 in length.
5. Aerosol Spray
This is about as straightforward as bat repellents come – spray it where you don’t want bats to be and they’ll never appear there. Aerosol spray contains chemicals and odors that bats typically avoid, giving you a more powerful tool for warding them off than the old garlic trick against vampires. (In fact, garlic can actually be an attractive odor for some bats, so you’d be doing more to welcome your little Dracula in than ward them off.)
6. Imitation Predators
This one might seem a bit silly, but it isn’t to a bat who can’t tell the difference between a rubber snake and the real thing. Of course, plenty of bats can tell the difference, and this is hardly the only defense you want to have in place to protect your home from an infestation of bats. At the same time, this is a very inexpensive alternative, and if we’re talking about things bats “avoid,” there’s nothing they fly clear of faster than would-be predators.
Scarecrows work to keep some birds away from crops, so throw a few bucks in for a rubber snake and see if you can get lucky.
7. Mylar Balloons
If this sounds strange, just think of them as mylar balloons filled with helium, since that’s basically what they are, though you don’t need to fill them up and have them float around for this to work.
First, it’s specifically mylar we are talking about, and not rubber or latex, so make sure you have the right balloon balls. Second, while you technically don’t need the balls to be blown up like balloons for this alternative to work, you nevertheless need them to remain in motion, so obviously keeping them in balloon form can help with that. Extra points for shinier reflective mylar balloons, since as established above, bats do not light brightness.
8. Aluminum Foil
This is pretty much in keeping with the latter point regarding mylar balloons – bats do not like brightness, and reflective surfaces such as aluminum can thus be used to ward them off when lit properly. In addition, if you choose to crumple the aluminum up into balls and hang them, they can crinkle together as they collide, producing a noise that the bats may find annoying.
9. Set up Mirrors
Vampires may not have reflections, but bats do, and they can certainly be confused by their own.
Besides the sheer comedy of bats encountering their “mirror self,” mirrors can also be yet another effective way of reflecting light and thus keeping out bats that way.
10. Add Menthol
As with the other aromas listed here, menthol is extremely strong and can be used to ward off bats. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you need to go around breaking up menthol cigarettes and sprinkling their ashes everywhere. Instead, you’ll want to purchase a safe menthol extract or something similar, pour about a tablespoon into a bowl, mix it with some water, and leave it out as bat repellent.
11. Add Oils and Scents
While essential oils may be a bottle of fakery when it comes to actually curing human diseases, all those lovely minty, cinnamon-y, and eucalyptus aromas can actually be useful in warding off bats. Unlike garlic, bats tend not to be attracted to but rather repelled by these scents.
Mint tends to smell a bit stronger than menthol to bats, which can make it more useful for getting rid of a small colony of bats – and besides, a “minty fresh” smell in your home probably beats a menthol one. In addition, you can also mix some of these scents together to create an aroma that’s particularly potent and more likely to drive off the bats for good.
12. Water Spray
This is a method you need to be careful in employing, since the last thing you want to do is rile up a stray bat with you in the room. Do not simply walk up to a stray bat and spray it in the face.
On the other hand, there is no denying that, properly employed, a quick spritz of water can ward off bats. They tend to avoid such annoyances (who wouldn’t?) and in their mind, they don’t know it’s “just” a bottle of water. For all they know, that spritz of rain may mean that a storm is on the way.
13. Christmas Decorations
‘Tis the season to ward off bats! You may think of Christmas as a bright and cheerful holiday season, and may laugh off the macabre elements of Tim Burton’s Jack Skellington-led inversion of it in The Nightmare Before Christmas, but for bats, the horror factor is all too real. All those shiny baubles hanging around the tree may be a source of heartwarming joy for you, but for bats, it leaves them wondering “What’s This” in perpetual confusion and thinking “There’s something very wrong!”
Remember, for animals, strange often equates to a threat, and it doesn’t get much stranger for them than a bright Christmas tree with lots of reflective ornaments, let alone any lights or movement.
To Sum it up
There are plenty of things that bats avoid, with signs of predators, strange smells, and bright lights being chief among them. Finding a way to incorporate one or more of these elements can help you to devise an effective way of warding them off. That said, as mentioned above, the best way to keep bats away is to keep them out in the first place, and that means sealing up holes and cracks so they can’t get into your home and establish a roost there.
With these steps, you can keep bats out of your home and let them remain in nature where they belong.