Evicting bats can mean savings

Posted Aug. 27, 2010, at 7:32 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:47 p.m.

There I sit, working at relaxation. It is overcast and just about twilight. A quick glance out the window, and I see a very fast flying creature.

When I was younger, I never really noticed birds much. Now that I live where I do, we are greatly entertained by all kinds of birds.

Last week a juvenile bald eagle was sitting on my lawn, looking over the water for a meal.

Anyway, the thing flying in the diminishing daylight looked more like a bat than a bird. In fact, that is exactly what it was.

You don’t always get to see bats doing their thing — eating insects.

They don’t fly in any kind of straight path, as they dart and weave around having supper. I like that.

I had a Mosquito Magnet for a couple years. It did a nice job of clearing the area of black flies and mosquitoes for about a year and a half. I did not mind feeding it propane to accomplish this fine job, but after that first year or so, it started to not work as well. I performed all the cleaning and maintenance rituals and still found it to be failing. At that point, you are supposed to send it back to the factory for rebuilding at no small cost.

I abandoned that insect control scheme and have been paying for that decision in blood ever since.

So, I like to see the bats out there. They don’t need propane.

In our previous house, we found we were not alone. In addition to four kids, there were bats in the attic and the walls. We could hear them climbing up and down the balloon framing that first winter. It was very weird.

Things got weirder when they started showing up while I was practicing being a couch potato. (It takes a long time to perfect one’s technique.)

I would be sitting in our den and all of a sudden a bat would be flying around me.

This would trigger the Bat Control Protocol.

I would yell upstairs to my wife and kids to lock themselves in their rooms while I proceeded to catch and release the bat.

Hilarity would ensue as I chased the bat with a 1-foot-square piece of foam insulation and a 5-gallon bucket. I would get the bat in the bucket and release it outside the house. What a great feeling! I saved that bat, got it outside where it belonged without harming it and felt like I had done wonderful things. That was until someone pointed out that the bat just went back into the attic and could eventually find its way back into the house — which it did, regularly.

After talking to our regional pest expert, Jim Dill from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office, I started working diligently to seal up my old house. It took about four years to seal all the holes.

The interesting thing is that anywhere a bat can enter the house is probably the same place where energy can leak out of a house.

The good news is that the house was made bat-free. And the better news, after seeing the little darlings out there eating bugs, is that they are not living with us in this house. They are probably living in my storage shed, which is over 100 feet from my house.

That seems a reasonable distance that allows me to appreciate them without having to try to escort them out of the kitchen in the middle of the night.

Questions for Tom Gocze should be mailed to The Home Page, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329.

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