Knightdale woman stuck with bats for the summer
Posted June 17, 2011
Knightdale, N.C. — Anne Buff has up to 50 bats living in a colony in a vent in the attic of her Knightdale home, but she can't get rid of them until the end of the summer.
A state law prohibits the removal of the bats in a colony during their mating season, specifically when baby bats are present. Pest control experts say if the adult bats were removed, the baby bats, who do not yet know how to fly, would end up starving to death.
Bat mating season typically runs from May until the end of July.
Buff said the bats were found during the installation of an air conditioner.
"The guy came down and said, 'Everything looks great except you have bats,'" Buff said.
In addition to being unwelcome house guests, they have also made a mess of Buff's backyard.
"There's tons of droppings out there. Now, I know what they are, and I don't want the kids playing in the backyard," she said.
Buff called Daniel Glover, who is certified as a wildlife damage control agent through the state Wildlife Resources Commission. Glover runs Trapper Dan's Wildlife and Pest company.
"When we start getting into April, we'll start seeing bats actually move into structures throughout the Triangle," Glover said.
Glover said he usually works about 300 bat calls a summer.
The bats living in Buff's home are a species known as Little Brown Bats, which are commonly found in or near buildings, according to the American Museum of Natural History.
When the bats are mature enough to be removed from the homes, experts say they can be coaxed to fly out through a plastic tube. That exit is then sealed off so they can’t return.
Glover said homeowners can prevent bats in the first place by purchasing mesh screens to cover outside vents and other places where bats might enter, but the screens can cost hundreds of dollars.
Bats have often been associated with vampires in film and television projects, causing some people to fear them. But bats don't feed on blood. According to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, bats eat nocturnal insects including mosquitoes. A single bat can eat 21,000 insects annually.
There are two diseases carried by bats that could be transmitted to humans – histoplasmosis and rabies, according to the museum.
Histoplasmosis is transmitted by breathing fungal spores that are sometimes present in bat droppings. Rabies is most often transmitted through a bite. It can be fatal if not treated immediately. Rabies can be transmitted when infected saliva or nervous tissue comes in contact with open wounds or mucous membranes of the nose or mouth.
Fewer than 0.5 percent of bats contract rabies, according the museum.