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August 26, 2003

Gone batty: Fall best time to evict unwanted bats

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Fall is the best time to send an eviction notice to the bats living in the attic, according to a wildlife biologist.


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While old buildings often serve as a place of business and as a historical repository, they also can house bat colonies with members numbering in the hundreds.

"We find that many historic buildings have a bat colony in the attic," said Judy Loven, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wildlife biologist.

Bats can enter through broken windows, unprotected louvers or vents, eaves, loose flashing, and other places.

"Then, when these older buildings settle, holes between the attic and the rest of the building come about, allowing bats access to the rest of the building," Loven said. "Typically, bats freak people out when they are flying around in a building."

Not only do people not want bats around out of fear, but they also are a health hazard. Old droppings can become a medium for hystoplasma spores. These spores can circulate through a building's ventilation system, causing respiratory infections and, in some cases, blindness.

If inside, bats also become a risk for transmitting rabies to people. Bats are the No. 1 transmitters of rabies to humans in Indiana.

To evict these pests, every hole in the building that is at least one-quarter inch wide must be sealed, Loven said. Then when the bats are out feeding, seal the attic from the outside. Loven said this should not be done during late July and early August when the bats are feeding their young, because the young will remain and die without care. The best time is the fall, when the bats have left for the winter, and at night, when they are out feeding.

While bats may not make good houseguests, Loven said they do provide beneficial services, such as eating disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes.

"Since bats outside are environmental good guys and some species are endangered in Indiana, we should find some nonlethal solution."

To learn more about bat control and preventative measures, visit the web.

Writer: Michelle Betz, (765) 494-8402, agnews-stories@purdue.edu

Source: Judy Loven, (765) 494-6229, loven@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes, bforbes@aes.purdue.edu; http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgComm/public/agnews/

 

Related Web sites:
Wildlife Conflicts Information Hotline
USDA APHIS Wildlife Services

 

PHOTO CAPTION:
Judy Loven, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wildlife biologist, said bats can invade older buildings, and the best way to evict them is by sealing up the building's holes in the fall. Bat droppings can become a medium for hystoplasma spores, which can cause respiratory infections and, in some cases, blindness. Bats also can transmit rabies to humans. (Photo/U.S. Department of Agriculture)


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