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TWO BAT HOUSES

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Project by GnarlyErik posted 02-27-2014 05:36 PM 1168 views 5 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My daughter recently asked me to build a bat house for insect control at her home. She lives near Jacksonville, Florida and mosquitos can make late afternoon enjoyment of their family swimming pool iffy sometimes. According to the literature published by the Bat Conservation Organization, bats can consume hundreds of mosquitos an hour, and each bat house can hold over 100 bats, so there’s that.

Intrigued, I did some research, ordered a book from the organization, gathered materials and built these two bat houses as my first effort. I will probably build at least one or two more – another request from another daughter is already in and I might want to do one or two to try near my own house too. I tweaked the published plans somewhat to make these easier to build

One sheet of “Texture 1-11”™ plywood siding (for the rough texture) and two 1×8 planks were enough for the structure for three bat houses this size (23” x 30”, 4 – chamber houses). One sheet of 1/4” CD ply was used for the interior partitions. The most labor consuming part of the project is making the required 1/16” grooves in the partitions – so many, many of them 3/8” to 1/2” apart. I tried to figure a quick way to do those, but finally just bit the bullet and laid them out by pencil and a long square and made them with a small battery powered panel saw. About 350-500 lineal feet of saw kerf is required for each house! (If I were going to do a lot of these, I would probably figure out some sort of saw mandrel to hold multiple blades to make many cuts with one pass.)

The only short cut I could figure was to clamp all the partitions side by side in order to make a long, continuous cut across three panels at one time. Still, there is an awful lot of tedious sawing. (The bat conservation folks omitted that point) Maybe someone can suggest an easier, better way? A mesh netting can be used instead, but the literature said saw kerfs are best. Besides, all the plastic netting I could find turns out to be fairly expensive, and metal mesh is undesirable for various reasons.

Bat habitat needs to be very warm (75 to 95 degrees), but things can get too hot in Florida too, so these are painted light colors – one house tinted a little darker as an experiment to see which works best. Once these houses are installed, we only need to wait to see how the bats take to them – or if they even do at all. Fingers crossed!

-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!





11 comments so far

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6904 posts in 1906 days


#1 posted 02-27-2014 05:40 PM

Wow, pretty interesting. Nice natural way to control the insects.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

209 posts in 889 days


#2 posted 02-27-2014 05:53 PM

Thanks – love your signature mantra Maurico – so true!

Erik

-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!

View LesB's profile

LesB

1091 posts in 2198 days


#3 posted 02-27-2014 06:38 PM

Nice work.
I have built several bat houses over years. I have used fiberglass window screen with some success but it can get messy with bat guano/urine collecting on it. The saw kerf method works best.
It often takes a couple of years for the bats to start using them so have patience. After two summers if they are not using the box try a new location. Preferably with morning sun and afternoon shade and a minimum of 10 feet off the ground. Afternoon sun tends to make the box too hot for them and they need the 10 foot height to get safely airborne when the exit.
It is great fun to watch them come out in the evening and zip around catching insects.

-- Les B, Oregon

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

1768 posts in 1182 days


#4 posted 02-27-2014 09:42 PM

Really nice work on your bat houses! This is how I did my grooves with a hand plane and a dremel grinder, Like I said in my blog saw kerfs or hand plane? I chose the quieter way, to each his own, so many ways to skin a cat as they say.
Skip ahead to the 1:55 mark to see the grooving operation, enjoy!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE_PN5fBVtI

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View hunter71's profile

hunter71

2160 posts in 1941 days


#5 posted 02-27-2014 11:59 PM

I build several of these and followed the mounting instructions but never got a single bat. Might be because we are on the top of the mountain. The bats are in the valley.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View Skylark53's profile

Skylark53

2565 posts in 1815 days


#6 posted 02-28-2014 12:49 AM

I put one up last year and was very happy with the results. Good project.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View woodbutcherbynight's profile

woodbutcherbynight

1311 posts in 1164 days


#7 posted 02-28-2014 04:31 AM

I had one of these once, a neighbor decided they were Vampire Bats and shot it out of the tree. Oddly his F150 never ran again, maybe he was right and they were indeed ANGRY Vampire Bats….... ROFL

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

209 posts in 889 days


#8 posted 02-28-2014 05:47 AM

Nice job on the dovetail jig exelectrician! I thought of grinding teeth into a plane iron as you have done, but decided against that. However, after seeing how well yours worked I may give that idea a try. Thanks for the encouragement!
Great video by the way.

I hope your bat house is successful in attracting tenants . . .

-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

1768 posts in 1182 days


#9 posted 02-28-2014 06:29 AM

@ Hunter71 I did a lot of searching on the web and yeah, they say you should have the bat house no more than a 1/4 mile from a river or lowland area.
So far – six weeks later, I’m still waiting for bats to show up.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View LesB's profile

LesB

1091 posts in 2198 days


#10 posted 02-28-2014 06:16 PM

Exelectrician,
Most of the bats in the Northwest migrate south for the winter. Here in western-central Oregon they usually show up in April and leave in late Aug to Sept. There are a some types who hibernate but not usually in a bat house.
Great video but I did not see that you had any partitions in the bat house. Bats like tight quarters, about 5/8” to 3/4” spacing between walls or partitions (or even less). Multiple partition spaced from front to back allows them to move to the layer that is most comfortable temperature wise. So if the sun is shining on the box and it gets too hot in the outside layer they move inward and visa versa.
In a brand new bat house you may not be used the first year and even then it may not be until mid summer. I think they return to old nests to give birth and then move around after they finished raising their brood or the young move out to new housing? It helps if you can put the box near a place bats are already roosting; such as a old barn or structure with a shake roof (they go under the shakes).

Like all creatures they go where the food is and mountain tops are not big hangouts for insects. That is a part of the reason deer and elk go up high in the summer; to escape the insects.

-- Les B, Oregon

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

1768 posts in 1182 days


#11 posted 03-01-2014 02:07 AM

LesB,
Yes I put six chambers inside. The pile of wood in the background of the picture with the plane in front is what I used they are resawed cedar 1/4” thick. I screwed 3/4” strips inside to make 3/4” gaps for the bats.
The pile of shaving in the left foreground is about half of the total that came up from this job.
I seem to have hijacked GnarlyErik’s post!

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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