I’ve since come to learn there are four basic steps to de-batting your belfry (and the rest of your house). The first is to call a reputable pest control company. You can’t kill the bats with poison; they’re protected species. You can’t just relocate them because they will find their way back.
Step 2 is what I like to call “shining for bats.” (Warning: this may make the neighbors wonder about you.) The de-batters can do this for you, but they’ll charge you a couple hundred dollars extra. Put your money back in your pocket and grab a couple of flashlights instead. Flashlights in hand, you’ll need at least two people to walk around your house at dusk. Shine your lights up under the eaves, up and down the gables and anywhere else you can’t reach. You are looking for holes…any holes of any size.
There are 14 different species of bats in my state. I’m told the two most common – and I am not making this up – are the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat. Smaller species can squeeze into a hole 3/8ths of an inch wide. Larger species, hulking critters that they are, may need a huge, gaping hole of an inch and a quarter.
Step 3, inserting cones into the holes, is done by your professional bat man. They make your house function as the opposite of a roach motel. Bats can check out, but they can’t check in. This step is done in the fall, late October or early November. Then you wait – about 6 months, all the while hoping the bats have all checked out, gone to their condo in Arizona, hibernated, or do whatever it is bats do in the winter.
Step 4 is sealing the holes. Your bat man also does this. After that, you can sleep easy and stop listening to the house creak in the middle of the night and sleeping with a light on.
So, Step 1 is what I should have done in June. But wait, there’s more. One dark early morning in August, I woke up to another strange noise. This one went “whump, whump, whump,” you know, kind of like the sound of something hitting a ceiling fan and then the wall. You know, something like a BAT?
I went through the same drill again, called my husband and everything. This time Mich was especially unsympathetic. He thought I was just hearing things. Try as I might, I couldn’t really blame him. Over the summer, I had become attuned to every creak and groan the house made, every scratch-scratching sound on the roof in the morning, be it squirrels or the tree outside our window. I’d taken to sleeping with a light on sometimes to ward off bats. And yes, a couple of times, I was hearing things.
Mich came home from work that Friday morning and checked for bats. Finding none, he called me at work to tell me I had been hearing things. I knew there was a bat and told him I hoped we found it over the weekend to prove it.
That night, we went out for dinner and came home around 8:45 PM. Sure enough, we found my friend flying laps in the living room. I decided I’d wait outside. (I’m pretty sure there were bats flying over my head that night, but they were high above me…and outside…where they belong.)
Mich again summoned his bat-nabbing skills and his power of negotiation. Through the screen door, I heard him having a perfectly reasonable conversation with the bat about how it needed to get into the laundry basket he was holding so he could take it back outside. The bat complied and was soon flying free outdoors where it belonged.
The following Monday morning, I called When Nature Calls Pest Control. (Seriously, that’s the name.) The first time I talked with Jared, the owner, he told me he does a lot of work in my neighborhood. How…comforting. But I’m happy to say, thanks to his work, my house is no longer a bat haven.