Charities are being overwhelmed with questions about how to make bat houses and how to encourage bats to make them their home. The growing DIY bat house trend might seem a little unusual in light of the Covid pandemic, but not only do these small winged mammals play a crucial role in our eco-systems, they also deter pests, like mosquitos.
They're also losing habitat around the world. Spring and summer are a good time to install one, so we turned to a gardener and DIY expert for tips on embracing this wildlife garden idea.
DIY bat house trend
Interest in bat houses has been growing over the last few years, as gardeners look for ways to create an eco-friendly garden. Bat Conservation International receives a huge volume of questions from people making their own bat houses to provide them with a safe place to sleep.
The bat house guide (opens in new tab) on its website is full of useful information about how to build one, what color to paint it, and so on. Bats are depended on for seed dispersal by many plants, as well as pest consumption. They even pollinate agave plants used to make tequila.
Expert tips for attracting bats
Emilly Barbosa Fernandes is a small space gardener from California and a consultant at House Grail (opens in new tab). She says when it comes to attracting bats to your bat house, location is key.
'It needs to be at least 12-20 feet high, and it should be exposed to six to eight hours of direct sunlight,' says Emilly. 'They like warmth and do best with temperatures between 80 and 100˚F.'
She says you'll need to make sure the bat house is positioned away from outdoor lamps and security lights, so a shed at end of the yard is preferable to a front porch or balcony. You often see bat houses attached to trees, but this should be avoided as it leaves them vulnerable to predators, like owls and hawks.
If you have a water source, install the bat house as close as possible. Growing night-scented flowers will also help, as they'll attract flying insects that the bats can feed on.
So what shouldn't you do when trying to attract bats? Brian Lee is a DIY expert and the founder of Drill and Driver (opens in new tab). He warns against using any kind of bat attractant or guano spray.
'It does nothing but lighten your wallet,' says Brian. 'It’s not going to work – bats don’t really get attracted by those sprays. They’ll come if they come.'
Millie Hurst has worked in digital journalism for five years, having previously worked as a Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team in early 2021, working across several brands, including Gardeningetc. Now, she is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles aimed at inspiring people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces.
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