How to Keep Bats out of a Barn
Unwanted bats in a barn present a special challenge. They live long, up to 20 years in captivity and often 10 years or more in the wild. They exist in populations of a few dozen to many thousands. Once settled, they don’t like to leave and it is well established that even if you succeed in driving a colony out, they will reoccupy the space if there is the slightest opportunity.
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Most barns are necessarily airy places, since they are meant to house livestock and to store grain and hay, both of which are subject to mold. Fresh air is necessary for both, so you can’t close them off complete as you can with a home. As a result, bats can have virtually unlimited access.
While bats are often highly desirable to have around because they are highly effective in controlling insect populations, there are a couple of good reasons to get rid of them. One is health-related, the other a matter of aesthetics.
Bats eat a lot, often several hundred insects per night. As a result they defecate a lot, both while they are wheeling about in pursuit of bugs and when they return to the roost to rest. Large heaps of their feces, or guano, can accumulate over a period of years, creating a health hazard. The combined presence of bat feces and urine can become a serious mess if it is allowed to accumulate in or around your house, deck, window and porch.
Bats are a protected species so you can’t legally eradicate them. Moreover, they are so numerous that it probably isn’t a solution anyway. Your only recourse is to discourage their presence by making your property an unpleasant place for them to reside.
Chemical repellents are one solution. One that is both inexpensive and easily available is mothballs, which can be placed in mesh sacks or old socks and hung at the bat roost. The strong odor of the mothballs is offensive to many animals and bats are no exception. There are commercially available chemical repellents available as well, and normally these are applied in the same manner.
Bats are highly sound- and light-sensitive and one commercially available solution employs both to create a disturbing physical environment for the creatures. Placed strategically near the roosts, the battery-operated units emit regular blasts of ultrasound and pulsating strobe flashes in order to cause the bats enough discomfort that they’ll find a different place to roost.
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