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Flying Pest Control: Dispelling the Myths about Bats

There are many myths, stories and stereotypes regarding bats. Over the years, people have associated these winged pests with demons, monsters, diseases and crop failure – associations that run the gamut from legitimate concerns to paranoid superstition.

Following are three common myths about bats in the Pacific Northwest and the truth behind them, all of which illustrate why eco-friendly pest control methods are the best way to remove an unwanted bat population.

MYTH: Bats are dirty and dangerous.

FACT: Most people are afraid of bats because they think they spread disease. While it’s true that bats can carry rabies, the instance of rabies in colonial bat species is small – less than half of a percent. In truth, bats are one of the cleanest species commonly classified as a pest. Bats groom themselves constantly and are known for their soft, clean fur. The largest concern is their droppings, which can harbor the fungal pathogen that causes human histoplasmosis.

That said, you should never handle a wild bat, especially one found injured on the ground. Most rabid bats are flightless and will bite when handled.

MYTH: All bats are blind.

FACT: The old axiom “blind as a bat” has led many people to this wrongful conclusion. While many bats do have very poor eyesight, they can still see. What they lack in eyesight, however, they make up for in what is called “echolocation.” Much like a submarine’s sonar capabilities, bats use echolocation to find food, keep track of each other and avoid running into tree branches or cave walls. The fact that they don’t exactly need eyesight doesn’t mean they don’t have it.

MYTH: Bats are worthless.

FACT: They may not be the most adorable animal in your neighborhood, but common Pacific Northwest bat species are probably some of the most beneficial. Most bats feed exclusively on flying insects, including gnats and mosquitoes, and it has been estimated that a population of 50,000 bats (about 100 square miles of bat country) will consume thirteen tons of insects over the course of one summer, making them one of the best eco-friendly pest control methods around.

Not all bat colonies are wanted, however. Bats will sometimes roost in an attic and make a real racket while coming and going at night. The best way to avoid a problem is to practice preventive pest control by closing off any openings through which bats may enter the home. Bats can potentially gain entry through holes as small as ¾” in diameter, so seal off any cracks around window frames, chimneys, or other structures that vent warm air.

If you have a bat infestation in your home, call a local green pest control company immediately. These professionals will be able drive the bats out of your home, safely and humanely, and seal up the entry points so they won’t be able to enter your home again.

[ photo by: g_kovacs ]

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