With the arrival of spring and summer, our attention shifts from indoor activities to the backyard. We plant flowers, tend the vegetable garden, invite family and friends over for a picnic, splash in the pool, and roll in the grass. Unfortunately, more often than not, mosquitoes and other flying insects chase us indoors.
There are hundreds of mosquito repellents on the market and citronella candles help, but in the end the mosquitoes win. Fogging the backyard with insecticides is a temporary measure and not real effective or environmentally friendly. But there is another option, one that is environmentally friendly and effective.
Install a bat house.
There are a number of species of bats, but most are insectivores. A small bat can eat hundreds a mosquitoes in a single hour. As they reside in colonies, the impact on the mosquito population will be multiplies several times over.
When the weather warms, they come out of hibernation and start looking for a summer home suitable for raising their young. Thanks to land development projects and new roads, bats are losing more and more of their natural habitat every year. A properly built and installed bat house will catch their attention.
- Place the bat house where it will get a great deal of sunlight. While most bats are nocturnal, they do need the warmth to raise their young. Either place the bat house on a free-standing pole or facing southward. Another way to capture more of the solar radiation is to paint the bat house black. If the house doesn’t receive enough ambient heat, the bats will look elsewhere.
- The bat house needs to be fifteen to twenty feet off the ground. It can be attached to a tree or the side of a building but you are more likely to attract a pair if the house is attached to a free-standing pole.
- The air-space around the bat house needs to be free of obstructions. If it is hard to get to, it will be passed up. Unobstructed flight paths of at least twenty feet are best.
- There needs to be free standing water within a half-mile of the bat house.
Be patient. It may take a year or two before the bats take up residence. If no bats have moved in within three years you might want to reassess the location.
Word of Caution: While having a colony of bats residing near your backyard will lower the mosquito population, it will not eliminate it.