Even the most passionate Batman fan doesn’t want flying pests on their property. While bats can aid the environment and even gobble up other pests, they shouldn’t be welcome indoors. Long-term, a colony of bats can seriously damage your home and your health.
If bats are lurking around your home, it’s crucial to act quickly. However, since exterminating bats or using pesticides on them is illegal in the United States, handling a bat infestation can be tricky. We’ve researched the best professional pest control options and DIY methods to give you the top tips on how to get rid of bats.
Why Should You Remove Bats?
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bats consume about 1,200 mosquito-sized insects an hour. In fact, some species of bats disperse seeds, pollinate plants, and feed on beetles and other insect populations that destroy crops.
While these benevolent critters can do good for the environment, they pose home and health risks when they venture into your home. Indoors, the following bat problems may develop:
- Risk of rabies: Coming into contact with a bat is highly dangerous and can expose homeowners to rabies, a painful and life-threatening disease. Rabies can result from bites, scratches, and even holding bats.
- Undesirable allergies: Living in a home with bats can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, including asthma and congestion.
- Structural damage to your home: Bat droppings, known as guano, can cause significant structural damage to your house by eating away at wood and other building materials around your home.
- Risk of histoplasmosis: This infection comes from inhaling a fungus found in the droppings of bats and unwanted birds. Symptoms include fever, cough, and fatigue and can last for weeks or even months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends professionals clean up large amounts of bat feces.
- Unpleasant odor: Over time, the smell of guano can become quite unpleasant, making your home difficult to inhabit.
It’s clear that bats should not be allowed to linger on your property. Over time, even a few little brown bats can grow to a population of a few hundred, leaving behind an accumulation of guano.
To deal with bats, you have two choices: professional bat control or a DIY approach. Based on the health hazards and the size of your bat infestation, the CDC often recommends professional wildlife removal. Regardless of which path you take to remove your bats, here are the best steps to get rid of them.
Professional Bat Exclusion
If you have a larger infestation of bats or continued re-entry, professional care is a good choice. Since bat pesticides and bat extermination are illegal, pest control companies use a process called exclusion. Exclusion is designed to seal the primary exits that bats use with one-way doors. This allows the bats to leave safely without permitting them to return.
Timing Bat Exclusions
With bat exclusion, timing is everything. Female bats can give birth, one pup a season, at any time from May through August. (The one upside: In a single day, nursing mothers can eat up to half their weight in insects.) To prevent trapping young bats, the exclusion must be conducted either in the spring, before the pups are born, or after the young bats are capable of flying in the early fall before leaving for hibernation.
Identify and Fortify Entry Points
No matter how many bats are roosting in your home, they will have a few designated entry points. Once you find their primary egress, you should install one-way doors to prevent re-entry. The devices used will remain in place for a few days—longer if the weather is inclement and the bats stay inside—before being removed and sealing the entry point.
Inspect and Clean Affected Areas
Your pest control crew will need protection from dust, potential disease, and insulation fibers in your attic or eaves. To clean up after significant infestations, professionals often wear booties, goggles, gloves, and HEPA face masks.
If your insulation has been compromised, the pros will use a high-power vacuum to quickly and thoroughly dispose of loose-fill insulation. All traces of the bats will need to be cleaned out thoroughly from any former habitats.
Seal Gaps and Holes
Your pest control experts will comb every inch of the house’s exterior for gaps and holes, paying particular attention to the roof’s ridgeline and areas that may have opened up between clapboards or shingles. They may also examine the outside of the home for small brown streaks and tiny black pellets, evidence of bat urine and guano.
Bats can squeeze through an opening as small as 1 inch by 3/8 inches, so every possible entry point must be caulked except for the bats’ favored exits with one-way doors. Silicone caulk is preferred as a sealant for its flexibility and clear look upon drying. Sealing up every possible entrance is imperative for keeping bats away, as bats prefer to return to the same roosts year after year.
As a measure to ensure no bats enter your home again, many companies use hardware cloth along with caulk. Though bats do not gnaw through wood, squirrels and other rodents do. Using wire cloth is a preventive measure to ensure the longevity of the bat-proofing. If your attic has a vent, hardware cloth may be used to seal that potential entry point as well.
With the old insulation completely removed, pest control specialists commonly use a stain cleaner and odor remover in areas where bat guano was concentrated. Special enzymes are able to digest the source of the odor.
Neutralizing the odor is not only desirable; it’s essential because scent draws bats back to the roost. Bats have excellent homing instincts and can live to the age of 30. Thanks to their superior sense of smell, every measure must be taken to prevent them from returning to a roost they may have occupied for years.
After your bat problems have ended, you’ll need to restore any areas that were damaged by the bats or the removal process. Restoring any damaged insulation or wood in the attic is a good place to start, along with repairing or cleaning any exterior issues around their entry points.
DIY Bat Removal
Since bats pose a significant risk to your health and house, we recommend a professional in most situations to avoid disease and damage. However, some homeowners would rather give DIY bat control a try to save on pest control costs.
Here’s how to get rid of bats around the house:
- Research the law: Unlike professionals, you likely aren’t familiar with the legality of bat removal in your area. Consult your local and state laws to determine whether bats are a protected species and what removal tactics are legal in your area. Local wildlife control may also be able to advise you on if and how you should remove bats from your home alone. For nationwide legal guidance on bat exclusion and other pest-related resources, we recommend consulting the website managed by nonprofit organization Wildlife Management Pros.
- Identify the bat species: The most common species of bats to colonize homes include little brown bats, big brown bats, and pallid bats. Each bat will have a different maternity season, which will dictate the exclusion period you will need to follow.
- Determine and seal up entry points: Chimneys, vents, loose shingles, your roof’s ridge cap, and your home’s eaves are all potential entry points for bats. If there’s no obvious bat entrance, damaged areas on your exterior, such as warped boards and loose siding, may also be culprits. Once you have determined where the bats are entering, use a one-way tube on the entry point so they can leave, but not re-enter. Finally, seal up any other possible places they may be sneaking in with caulking.
- Cleaning: It’s time to don protective gear including rubber work gloves, sleeves, booties, and an N95 mask or reusable respirator.
You’ll want to mist with a solution of water and bleach before scrubbing with detergent or non-ammonia enzymatic cleaner, like Biokleen’s Bac-Out Solution. Rinse, then use a bleach solution to clean again. Any porous materials like rugs, clothes, or fabrics should be disposed of and removed from the home.
If you have more than one bat, a large amount of guano in your home, or a problem with bats returning each year, it may be worth professional pest control attention.
Invest In and Install a Bat House
Whether you take the professional or do-it-yourself bat removal approach, bats will continue to return to a roost, especially one that is long-established. The best way to encourage a mutually beneficial ecosystem long-term is by investing in and properly installing one or more bat houses close to the previously infested structure.
Thankfully, providing them with a new place to roost nearby can prevent them from entering your home again. Echolocation can direct bats right to their favorite points of entry, so you’ll want to position a bat house as close to the old “bat door” as possible as a powerful deterrent. Experts tell us that it takes anywhere from a few to 16 months for bats to fully adopt a newly established bat house. Once established, a healthy collective of bats can prove a great asset to your property by eating mosquitos and other flying pests (bats’ favorite food sources) and acting as pollinators.
Bat houses typically come in one of two sizes—smaller roosts accommodate around 75 bats, and larger roosts accommodate close to 200 bats. The higher a bat house is, the more likely it will be effective; aim for at least 15 feet off the ground.
According to Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation Trust (MTBC), installing a high-quality bat house in the proper location helps mitigate future home infestations by 80%.
Merlin Tuttle is a tenured professor at the University of Texas and the foremost bat expert in the United States. He has written extensively on all species of bats, and in 2022 published The Bat House Guide, a manual that provides guidance for wildlife removal pros, homeowners, commercial property managers, and construction managers.
As a proponent of bat conservation and advocate for the comfortable coexistence of humans and bats, Tuttle cautions against buying uncertified, low-quality bat houses, which are not only significantly less effective, but threaten the lives of already desperate bat populations:
“It is true that numerous bat houses are badly built and sold with unreasonable claims and little, if any, instruction on bat needs. Vendors of such houses defraud customers and threaten the credibility of bat conservation. Both vendors and customers can benefit from education and certification.”
When shopping for a bat house, we recommend looking for the “MTBC” certification endorsement, which indicates that the bat box has met Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation’s rigorous safety and success-rate standards. Check out MTBC’s Selecting a Quality Bat House page for more detailed information, bat house and mounting pole recommendations, as well as a list of MTBC-approved bat house vendors.
A bat infestation is one of the more difficult pest problems to tackle, with risks and legalities to consider before you begin. You’ll want to know what type of bats are in your home and plan your exclusion time carefully to avoid harming these creatures. If you do choose to DIY, be sure to clean thoroughly, seal entrances vigilantly, and wear protective masks, gloves, and clothing.
In most cases, we recommend professional bat care to reduce the risk of harm to you or your home, keeping both your loved ones and your bat neighbors safe. We recommend Terminix for its competitive pricing, live chat features, and widespread availability. We also consider Orkin a top provider thanks to its long history in the industry and money-back guarantee. You may want to request free quotes from both companies to find the best provider and price for your home.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bat Removal
Our Rating Methodology
The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider.
With all of that data, we created a rating system to score each pest control company. Our rating system is a weighted, 100-point scale on the following factors:
- Plan options (35): Every home and every pest problem has its specific needs when it comes to prevention and remediation. Companies with multiple plans and service offerings were given higher scores than those without.
- State Availability (5): Where you live determines which providers are available. Companies available in more states were rated higher than those with less.
- Trustworthiness (15): We consider companies that offer service guarantees and others more trustworthy and therefore scored higher.
- Customer Service (35): This factor is based on our own research from calling providers, as well as their availability and guarantees for responses.
- Additional Benefits (10): Companies who offer things like information about the products they use, have an app for customers, and other benefits were given higher ratings.
In summary, the This Old House Reviews Team reviewed over 40 companies to select this list of the best pest control companies. Our researchers check and update our data on all 40 companies each month to ensure the most accurate information.
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