Do Bats Really Help with Mosquito Control?
By Chris Williams on February 22, 2017.
If you think that the bats living in your attic are going to help keep mosquito numbers down in your backyard, I’ve got news for you. We’ve always been told that bats are beneficial mammals because they eat insects and that’s why they’re protected by law. And, we’ve been told that they eat “tons of mosquitoes” on a typical night. Well, they are beneficial and they do eat a lot of flying insects, but the truth is that mosquitoes are only a very small part of a typical bat’s diet (see What Do Bats Feed On?).
Mosquitoes are Not Preferred Bat Food
Bats prefer larger prey objects than mosquitoes which makes sense. When you’re working hard to find insect food, you want more bang for your buck. Moths and beetles are preferred, followed by other miscellaneous flying insects. Bats are opportunistic feeders though. If mosquitoes were the only available food, bats would certainly chow down. But in reality, when bats have been captured and tested, less than 1% of their gut contents have been mosquitoes.
Little brown bats, one of two common house-dwelling bats in our Northeast region, will eat 50% of their own body weight in insects each evening, usually during the first hour after emerging from the roost. Pregnant and nursing females eat even more. Little brown bats prefer soft-bodied insects and eat moths, wasps, beetles, mosquitoes, midges, and mayflies. Our other common bat, the larger big brown bat, prefers even larger food items and feeds primarily on hard-shelled beetles.
When to Uninvite Bats From Your Home
Even if bats aren’t going to save us from mosquitoes, they are still beneficial and are certainly interesting creatures. However, living with bats close by in your attic is not a good idea because accumulated guano (bat poop) can transmit respiratory disease if disturbed, and because bats do have parasites and can carry rabies.
Bats throughout the U.S. are under extreme stress due to disease and we want to treat them gently. At Colonial Pest, our certified nuisance wildlife experts know how to humanely remove bats from your residence and how to seal openings to keep them out. But, there is a limited time frame when these steps can be taken so as to protect young bats (see Bat Removal Has a Narrow Window…Don’t Delay!).
Some bats remain in their attic roosts during winter but others leave and return in March or April to have young. Each state has different rules for when bats can be managed. In general, if you don’t have the bats professionally removed from your home by mid-May, you’ll have to wait until mid-August to assure that any nursing young have fledged and are able to leave the roost and survive on their own.
See Bat Removal is Not a Do-It-Yourself Job! Give Colonial Pest a call.