As those who already offer bat exclusion work well know, sealing each and every gap at the account is critical. Compared with general pest control, there are not nearly as many standards for bat control, and even fewer laws. Because we don’t have the benefit of “The Label is the Law,” pest management professionals (PMPs) are largely on their own to figure out the best methods.
The National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA) offers a two-part Bat Standards course. Here are three ways to improve bat exclusions to make your control efforts better, last longer and earn your clients’ trust:
1. Foam is not a silver bullet.
Foam has its time and place for sealing gaps quickly, easily and cheaply, but don’t rely on it as your only option. It can break down in sunlight, become damaged by rodents, and separate on buildings that expand and contract as the weather changes. Just putting hardware cloth, steel wool or other material behind it as a backing isn’t always effective.
Rather, for gaps under a half-inch, use a high-quality caulk or adhesive sealant that is appropriate for the climate and conditions at the account. Try out a few to see what works best for your area. Gaps larger than a half-inch should be sealed using metal, wood, cement or other construction materials.
If you must use foam, never leave it open. A sealant should be applied and brushed over it. The cost difference will be small, but the quality and longevity of the fix will be greatly increased.
2. Use sheet steel to seal roof returns.
Hardware cloth and similar materials are not aesthetically pleasing when used to seal roof returns, where the soffit meets the shingle. It clearly gives the appearance that work has been done. Hardware cloth is best left for screening gable vents.
Rather, use sheet steel that can be bent to fit and painted to match the house. A pair of hand seamers, tin snips and edging tools will allow you to form-fit the metal to blend with most gaps. It will take some practice, but the effort is worth it.
Steel should be attached with panhead or truss screws when possible. Screws can be dipped in a sealant like “Through The Roof!” prior to use, or solar seal to prevent leaks. A pole barn screw with a self-sealing washer is a fastener of choice for additional protection. For areas where water flow can be an issue, a construction adhesive may be a better choice over screws.
3. Up your cone game.
A bat “one-way door” or valve can be made from a variety of items, including netting, trash bags, caulk tubes, hardware cloth and gutter downspouts. These all work, but a more professional image should be promoted to add value for your client. Bat work should be considered a high-end service, similar to termite work, and little things make a difference.
Using a quality cone shows customers your professionalism, just like matching your concrete patches when performing termite work, or using a quality spray rig. Aesthetically pleasing cones can be made from aluminum or fluorescent lightbulb tubes and quick painted to blend in when working on a home. There are also several professionally made bat valves on the market. When using reusable cones, always wash them after each project to eliminate the spread of disease.
Do not make the cone from hardware cloth, because bats can hang onto them and climb back in. Even when shaped correctly, the barbs on hardware cloth are unavoidable and can cut a bat’s delicate wing membrane.
SET YOURSELF APART
There are many ways to bat-proof an account. But by improving your exclusion strategies, you can demand higher prices and stand out from your competition. You also will be providing better value, a more aesthetically pleasing repair, and protecting yourself against warranty calls. As your confidence grows, you can extend warranties to rodent and other wildlife work. And with a little practice, these methods will look cleaner and become quicker to accomplish.
STEPHENSON is owner of Gold Country Wildlife Control, Grass Valley, Calif. He may be reached at 530-760-7103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.