As their natural habitats shrink, bats are increasingly found in suburban environments where their colonies can thrive and grow rapidly if left unchecked. As this steady migration toward residential and commercial structures continues, the prevention of infestations is becoming increasingly important due to the potential for damage to property, the difficulty of removing entrenched colonies, and the health issues created by unsanitary conditions.
The first step in the prevention process is the development of an understanding of what bats consider to be the ideal habitat for their colonies, which typically have three common characteristics:
1) Dark spaces – Bats that take up residence in suburban areas are still looking for cave-like habitats such as undisturbed attics and dark crawlspaces.
2) Small openings that prevent the entrance of other animals – In caves, bats can set up their colonies on the ceiling to provide isolation from intruders. Because smaller man-made spaces often can’t provide that type of protection, bats have modified their preferences for tiny access points that allow them to get in and out but are too small for rodents and other potential predators such as snakes. These access points can be as small as 3/8 of an inch and are commonly located at the juncture of the soffit and roof, broken vents, and loose flashing.
3) Entry points that are high off of the ground – This is another defense mechanism for the colony as access points that are at least one story up, and preferably two stories, can be harder to see from the ground, which can deter other threats.
With the knowledge of what bats are looking for, an inspection can be performed by a professional roofing team that looks for the same things. Due to the ability of bats to fit into the smallest of gaps, this inspection has to be thorough and comprehensive to ensure the highest level of prevention. Should gaps be found, they are typically marked and then closed, either through the use of sealants or by attaching fascia.
Finally, there are numerous products that are touted as being deterrents for bats such as machines that broadcast ultrasonic sound waves, but their results are typically disappointing. This is due in part to the fact that bats are extremely good at adapting to new environments, such as suburban structures and higher noise levels. A second factor is that when a suitable habitat is found, a bat colony will quickly seize the opportunity, regardless of the presence of devices that are intended to irritate them. With these animals, the only way to prevent an infestation is the complete denial of access, which will send them elsewhere to look for a potential home.