As summer draws near in Pennsylvania, you may start to hear that familiar squeak as dusk rolls around. It’s bat season, and they are on the lookout for a roost. As these flying mammals start appearing in the night sky, their main goal is to find a cozy place to raise their young.

Unfortunately, they may just find your attic or garage to be the perfect place. Before you do anything, it’s imperative to know that as a protected species, you can’t really deal with bats yourself.

If you’ve got “bats in your belfry,” don’t worry. Let’s look at what bats are, why they are protected, and how you can remove them from your property for good.

A single bat can eat over a million insects in a year.

What is a bat?

Bats are the only known mammals that are capable of flight. There are plenty of different bat species and they range in size from as small as 1 ⅛ inches to as large as 5 feet. There are over 1,400 species of bats around the world, with nine residing right in Pennsylvania. While six of these species hibernate through the winter, three of them move south to warmer weather. They mate in the late summer or early fall, producing small broods. 

Insect eaters, you can often see these little creatures taking to the night sky near dusk or early morning. Despite the saying, “blind as a bat,” bats can see very well, especially in total darkness. In fact, they can catch prey quite easily and are known to consume over a million insects per bat in a year.

Why are they protected?

Unfortunately, like most protected creatures, some species of bats are considered endangered. Due to pesticide usage, deforestation, and habitat loss, the bat population is on a steady decline. Since they don’t produce more than 1-4 a year, they are struggling to keep the numbers up.

Plus, with the added threat of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has killed millions of bats since 2006, bats are under the Endangered Species Act.

It should be noted that not all bats are protected by the ESA, but should you encounter any bats, you should proceed with caution. They have been covered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1956. These laws don’t only protect the six different bat species, but also their habitats.

Why are bats important?

So, why are bats a crucial part of the ecosystem? If you aren’t a fan of being up to your elbows in insects, then you should thank a bat. As we mentioned earlier, a single bat can eat over a million insects in a year. That works better than pesticides, and they save the plant industry billions. They’re experts in pest control.

Additionally, bats are known pollinators. They are the only species that can pollinate the agave plant, and they also do their part by dispersing seeds. When it comes down to it, bats easily save us billions when it comes to regulating insect control and pollinating plants.

How are bats protected by the ESA?

If you knowingly harm, injury, or kill a bat, or damage their habitat, you’ll be subjected to criminal proceedings. It is illegal to intentionally, kill, capture, or hurt any bats protected by state law. You can also be charged if you damage, disturb, or destroy a roost. Also, you cannot sell bats, either dead or alive.  Here are the bat species currently under protection: 

  • The Northern Long-Eared Bat
  • The Indiana Bat
  • The Grey Bat
  • The Florida Bonneted Bat
  • The Virginia Big-Eared Bat
  • The Ozark Big-Eared Bat

If you do encounter a bat, it’s best to leave it alone as well. If you violate the conditions of either act, you could be subject to a fine or spend up to six months in prison.

Bats are not looking to harm anyone; they are just looking for a safe place to raise their young.

What do I do if I find bats on my property?

Bats are not looking to harm anyone; they are just looking for a safe place to raise their young. However, it can be dangerous to have them roosting in your home. Bat waste carries potential health risks, and while the risk is low, it is possible that they can carry rabies. Also, bats tend to return to roosts, so if they were a problem once, they will likely be in the future. So, what can you do?

Consider hiring a professional that performs bat exclusions. They will be able to remove them from your home safely, so both you and the bats can go on with your lives. Since they mate in the late summer and early fall, it’s better to remove them safely before mating season.  Also, pest control experts can help seal up entryways and block access points before they arrive.

Once the bats are removed and barred from entering, do a deep clean of the area to discourage any stragglers or new visitors. Also, it would be a good idea to provide a newer, better place to live away from your home. If bats frequent your property, consider providing bat homes. You can set them up safely and out of harm’s way.

Save the Bats!

Bats are a crucial part of our ecosystem and way of life, so it’s imperative that we protect them. If you are experiencing a bat infestation, don’t wait. Contact a pest control expert and remove them safely and humanely today.



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