Battling Bats in Your Home
Caulk It Up
In the Nick of Time
You'll need to match the caulk you use with the surface you're applying it to. Some caulks don't adhere to stain or paint that contains silicone, wax, stearate, or paraffin-based oil. Clear silicone caulk doesn't bond well with unfinished cedar siding or shingles. If you're going to paint over the caulk, choose a paintable caulk.
Seal up all small cracks and holes with caulk. Choose a high-quality product that will last a while. You don't want to do this more often than necessary. Be sure to pay special attention to joints and other areas where materials come together.
While you're at it, nail down any loose shingles or facings you come across, since bats can also squeak in under these.
Mesh hardware cloth is the material of choice for closing up cracks or holes that are too large for caulk, and for protecting vents that must be kept open. Buy 6-millimeter(0.2-inch) screen and cut it to size-at least 2 inches bigger than the opening you'recovering. Nail it into place.
Sheet metal can also be used to cover larger openings, especially those that let the elements in. Again, cut to size, leaving at least a 2-inch margin all around. Nail into place.
Lights, Camera, Action!
As bats shun light, shining some into an infested attic may motivate them to seek darker digs. This approach works best in early spring when bats return from their hibernation sites, not after they've established a roost.
Lights must be kept on 24/7 and moved regularly to eliminate dark corners and shadows. If you don't, the bats will simply move to these areas.
Perhaps the kindest, gentlest approach to bat control is to provide alternative housing for them. Installing bat houses on your property will not only encourage them to roost somewhere else than your house, it keeps the bats in the area where they can continue to hunt for yard and garden insect pests. It's a win-win for you and the bats.
Bat houses can be purchased at hardware stores and garden centers. The Organization for Bat Conservation, a national nonprofit dedicated to preserving bats and their habitats, offers ready-made houses and plans for building your own.
If you decide to give your bats an alternative roosting site, you'll want to buy more than one bat house, as they need to be installed at various heights. It can take up to one year and sometimes longer before the bats will take up residence.
More on: Home Improvements
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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