Going batty: Adding bat control to your service repertoire


January 20, 2014

Far from the hero worship of the Caped Crusader (or Dark Knight, depending on your preferred Batman reference), real-life bats tend to be our customers’ worst nightmares. Demand for bat control has increased during the past decade. The bat population has risen to the No. 1 position for all mammals in the world – they represent 20 percent of all classified mammal species worldwide.

Performing bat control services is similar to controlling birds and other nuisance animal or wildlife control. Many of the techniques and materials used to solve such problems are the same. It can be a lucrative add-on business. Job pricing can range from a few hundred dollars to the thousands, depending on the scope of service. There are at least five services that can be offered easily for bat control:

  1. Removal of bat(s) in a residential or commercial structure with pole or mist nets.
  2. Bat guano (droppings) cleanup, including sanitizing and disposal. Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner to collect the droppings. Odor control services can be offered, too.
  3. Bat bug control can occur as a matter of course when controlling bats. Bat bugs (Cimex pilosellus), which are in the same genus as bed bugs, live near bats and feed on the blood of bats. They also can attack and bite humans.
  4. Bat exclusion services can be provided after removing bats from the interior of a structure to prevent them from re-entering. Bats can enter through openings as small as 3/8 x 1.25 in., which is the size of a dime. Exclusion methods include bat netting (polyethylene knotted mesh); closing entry points with foam sealer, caulk, copper mesh, or hardware cloth or wire mesh; and replacing broken pieces of siding (aluminum or wood), flashing or chimneys.
  5. Offering a bat exclusion annual maintenance warranty generates additional revenue, and provides clients with a sense of security. It’s similar to a yearly termite, carpenter ant or carpenter bee renewal warranty in which you provide an annual inspection of the previously performed bat exclusion and perform any necessary maintenance.

Treatment tips
Make sure attic vents are secure with vent covers. New covers, hardware cloth or screening are acceptable exclusion methods. Screens on gable vents should be secured, too. Inspect for possible openings or tears, and repair accordingly. Look for rub marks, and chances are, you’ll locate their entry points. Also, inspect for bat guano on the building exterior and you might find the openings overhead.

When installing netting for bats, it’s important to attach from the top above an opening and leave the net loose for a few days so bats can crawl out from under the net but not re-enter. There are one-way bat tunnels and cones made just for this purpose. Beware of mating cycles, however, so you don’t trap young bats, or pups, inside structures. Don’t use pesticides to flush out bats because they’re a protected species.

Safety first
All service technicians should wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when performing bat control, including HEPA respirators, goggles, gloves, bump caps and disposable coveralls. Incorporating HEPA vacuums, safety cones, caution tape, and men-working signs is a must. Additionally, anyone who performs this type of work should be immunized against rabies. It’s rare, but humans can contract rabies through bat bites, scratches and saliva.

It’s also recommended all technicians take and pass a certified course from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Additional training for ladder, lift/boom, harness, scaffold and power tool use is also important.

Bat bites

  • Bats are nocturnal and the only mammal that flies.
  • Bat babies are called pups and need warmth to survive.
  • Mother bats bring food to their pups and can detect their babies by scent.
  • Bats live in proximity to one another in colonies.
  • Bats have built-in sonar called echolocation, and catch about 500 to 600 insects for food per hour, while in flight.
  • The guano of bats contains insect parts, making it easily identifiable. Bat guano contains ammonia and can be toxic. Their droppings also give off quite a stench.
  • Bats hang upside down, so they drop down to fly.
  • It’s difficult for bats to fly once they’re on the ground.
  • Insects dispose of dead bats.
  • Bats harbor in numerous places such as under bridges, in tree cavities, attics, vacant buildings, chimneys, caves, wall cavities, bell towers, and under canopies, fascias and eaves.
  • Less than 1 percent of bats carry rabies. In the U.S., rabid bats kill about two people a year.
  • Bats can carry bat bugs, fleas, viruses and pathogens, as well as other infectious diseases including rabies, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and histoplasmosis, a disease caused by a fungus that is found in bat droppings.
  • Bats are typically born between April and August, so bat-proofing should only be done between September and March.
  • There are more than 1,000 different species of bats.
  • Two recognized suborders of bats are megabats, which feed on fruit and pollen, and microbats, which feed on insects.
  • Vampire bats, found mostly in Central and South America, don’t suck blood. They might bite an animal, for example, and then lap the blood up.
  • Bats usually live for 10 years. Some species of brown bats have a life expectancy of 30 years.
  • While some bat varieties are booming, more than 50 percent of bat species in the U.S. are in severe decline or listed as endangered. They could eventually be extinct.

Stuart Aust, president and CEO of Bug Doctor, can be reached at stuart@bugdoctorinc.com.


Leave A Comment

Comments are closed.