Bats are typically underrated and not given the credit they are due.
Besides being the only mammal that can fly, the majority of North American bats are also nocturnal insectivores.
This means that they feed on the insects of night, including mosquitoes. Actually, a small bat can eat more than 600 mosquitoes in just one hour! They consume beetles, wasps, and moths too.
Therefore, bats nesting near your house are a positive and natural way to keep pesky bugs out of your yard. Give them a place to stay and you will reap the benefits all year long.
The following is a simple step-by-step guide for both parents and kids on how to build a bat house together.
Bats are very particular about where they will nest; for that reason, the house will need to be constructed in a specific way.
The outside of the house must be painted according to your location, so that it is dark and warm inside for the bat during the day. If you live in the North, a dark color will absorb the sunlight and keep it toasty.
However, if you live in the warmer South, a light color may be better.
The space where the bats will enter the house must only be about three quarter-inch thick, along with a small gap that will allow air circulation.
Even though it is small, do not let that fool you. Dozens of bats and their pups will be able to live in the house.
Making it dark and cramped is the correct way for how to build a bat house, because they are attracted best to these areas for nesting.
Building a bat house is easy enough to do in one afternoon, in approximately three or four hours. For making the bat house, make sure you take stock of the tools you have and make a trip to the hardware store for those you do not.
The total cost of the bat house should not be more than $60. You will need to have:
- Measuring tape
- Combination square
- Spring clamps
- Safety glasses (two pair)
- French curve and circle template
- Drill fitted with a quarter-inch drill bit
- Caulking gun
- Paintbrush (preferably two-inch)
- Foam roller (preferably four-inch)
- Staple gun with three-eighths inch staples
- 2-by-4-foot section of half-inch exterior grade plywood
- One six-foot 1×2
- Half-inch deer netting
- Exterior latex non-toxic paint
- Low-VOC adhesive caulk
- One-inch deck screws
- Three half-inch deck screws
Remember to keep safety in mind while working on the construction. Children can do a lot of the work that is involved in constructing the bat house, including taking measurements, driving screws, and painting the exterior.
However, parental guidance and assistance will be necessary throughout the process, especially to help with the sawing.
Keep the jigsaw in the hands of an adult at all times. Make sure everyone wears safety glasses when the saw is being used too.
Begin by using a tape measure and a straightedge to mark up the 2-by-4-foot piece of plywood. You will need one piece that is two feet wide and 26 inches long, as well as one that is two feet wide and 22 inches long.
Once it has been marked, clamp the plywood to the worktable. After placing safety glasses on, use the jigsaw to cut the plywood on the lines.
Next, print out a template for the bat cutout, which are easily found on the Internet. Or, create your own using a French curve and circle template. This is a great way for kids to help with drawing the bat wings.
If you cannot find the French curves, you could also trace cans or cups in order to make curves of varying sizes. Afterwards, lay the bat shape out onto the edge of the shorter piece of plywood.
Clamp the plywood and bat design onto the worktable. Make sure the whole bat hangs over the edge of the table. Next, use the driver to drill holes just inside the points of the bat template.
This will make it much easier to turn the jigsaw blade as you cut the curved portions. Go ahead and cut out the bat design when you are ready. Cut the shape closest to the edge first, and then cut the entire bat.
Make sure you work slowly and cautiously since both halves of the cutline must look clean. When you reach a drill hole, stop the saw and turn it before continuing.
In order to raise the front panel up off the back for a space to house the bats, strips of lumber will be needed around the edges. Cut three pieces, one 24-inch piece and two 19-inch pieces, from a 1×2.
Then, use a caulk gun to lay a bead of caulk around the face of the longest 1×2 piece. Place it on top of the larger piece of plywood so that the edges line up.
Clamp it in place and drive one-inch deck screws through the 1×2 and into the plywood. Continue doing this every six inches so it is held sturdily in place.
Take the two shorter pieces and caulk the ends where they meet with the top piece. Clamp them down and attach them in the same way with the drill. If any caulk oozes out, make sure to use a damp rag to wipe it up quickly.
Now, the bat house is ready for some paint! Using the paintbrush and roller, paint the exterior surfaces in the color that has been chosen for your specific climate.
Make sure that all of the wood is painted and well sealed. It may need more than one coat, depending on how dark the paint color is. Then, let the paint dry fully.
After time has elapsed for the paint to dry, unroll the deer netting and lay it flat against the plywood on the inside of the back. Use a staple gun to attach the netting to the inner edge of the 1×2 and along both sides.
Pull it taut to avoid any sagging when the bats hang from it. Extend the deer netting completely over the bottom edge and wrap it around to the back. Once you have it securely stapled on all sides, use scissors to cut off the excess.
Using the caulking gun, caulk along the face of the 1x2s of the back section. Next, position the front piece on top of the 1x2s. Check to ensure that the bat shape is facing the bottom and the top edges line up.
Clamp it into place with the spring clamps. Drive one-inch screws through the face to secure it every six inches. Caulk the remaining uncovered sections of the 1x2s and place the cutout onto them.
Make sure you leave a half-inch gap between them for air circulation purposes. Clamp this piece in too, and attach it with a single one-inch screw on both sides.
Once you have finished the construction, take the bat house outside for hanging.
The best location for the house is under the eaves of your home. Attach the bat house by driving 3 half-inch deck screws through the corners and into the siding.
Make certain that the bat house is at least 15 feet off the ground and not near any bright lights that could disturb the bats. Choosing a place that faces the south is ideal because it will get plenty of sunlight to keep the bats warm.
That was not so hard, now was it? You now know how to build a bat house like a pro!
The design is specifically constructed to attract bats, so you will see increased bat activity in your yard rather quickly. The bats will enjoy their new stylish house, while you will enjoy not having to lather up with so much bug spray this summer.