Even though there are about 14 different species of bats found in Illinois, the types of bats that are most commonly found using attics for roosting and nursery colonies are Big Browns and Little Browns. They often share the same site, and while in some cases only a few bats may be using the structure, it is common to find colonies of several hundred in homes. Larger buildings such as churches will sometimes have colonies of a thousand or several thousand bats. It is important to remember how valuable bats are, as they play an important role as nature's own pest control experts for night-flying insects. Much information can be found on Little Brown Bats, Big Brown Bats, and other bats by using the internet for research. Learning about the lifestyles and habits of these bats will help you understand the importance of bat conservation, and allow you to appreciate the non-lethal methods we use in excluding bats from a residence or building. Our goal is to successfully resolve conflicts between property owners and bats using methods which compliment bat conservation. We offer bat removal services for much of central Illinois, as well as the St. Louis and surrounding areas.
This guy was unhappy when I woke him up during an attic inspection. Notice the bat droppings on the ledge.
The methods used for bat removal have nothing in common with the methods normally used for animals such as raccoons, opossums, squirrels, groundhogs, and others. Instead of using traps, bat control is done by using a systematic exclusion program. Bats are protected by Illinois state wildlife code, and no chemicals or poisons can be used. We do not use any type of traps, as bats can die from stress while in traps and relocation efforts are not successful. Studies have shown bats have returned from distances of up to 150 miles, so trapping and "moving" bats only creates a false sense of security for homeowners who see the bats "caught and hauled away". We do not play those mind games, but simply utilize the best system of exclusion and bat-proofing. If the bats are going to fly right back to their established roost site area, why not just evict them from the structure and save them the hassle of flying back. They are going to locate a new roost site in the area anyway, so it makes no sense to haul them away first.
The bat exclusion process requires several steps. The first step usually requires an observation of the structure shortly after sunset to locate the entrance/exit holes. This is done on a fairly clear night, as rainy and windy conditions are not favorable for bats to locate flying insects. We spend an evening watching all sides of the structure to locate the primary exit points. The observation night can be at any time during the spring, summer, or fall. On many structures it is possible to locate the access point(s) by performing a detailed inspection of the outer structure.
The second step involves sealing all gaps, cracks, and holes, leaving the primary access hole(s) open. This prevents them from finding an alternate access point into the structure. Step 3 is to install one-way exclusion devices that allow the bats to leave their roost site but not return into the structure. Normally these devices are not installed until mid-August. After 1 or 2 weeks (or sometimes late fall), the devices are removed and the access holes are repaired and sealed. This is the final step in the exclusion process.
Exclusions are usually performed in late summer and early fall. In central Illinois, young bats are present in nursery colonies from early May through early August. Excluding the mother bats during that period would create a problem even worse than having the bats in your attic, as the young bats would die without their mother to feed and care for them. The problems associated with a large number of dead animals in a structure can be serious, so waiting until the young bats can fly is the sensible method. It is possible to perform exclusions in the spring, but spring exclusions must be completed by the middle of May to eliminate the possibility of stranding young bats in the structure.
It is most common for us to perform observations in the summer months during the time period when exclusions should not be performed. This time period also happens to be the time when we receive most bat calls, due to a couple factors. It is a time when young bats are leaving the nursery colony for the first time, and sometimes "get lost" while trying to find their way outside. They end up flying around in your living room. Another factor is the high concentration of bats present in a nursery colony during that period. It's a simple numbers game....More bats = better chance of being noticed.
The summer observations allow us to be prepared for exclusions when the proper time comes. We can arrange our schedule and also pick up all the necessary materials for each job in advance. On many structures we will perform much of the sealing and repairs (secondary gaps and holes) before the exclusion season begins. There is a fairly narrow "window" for exclusions, which makes it impossible to perform all sealing, repairs, and exclusion work in that limited time frame. We sometimes inspect structures during the late fall or winter season, but it may only allow us to provide a rough estimate if poor weather conditions prevent us from climbing on the structure or using ladders.
Exact exclusion costs are impossible to quote without a thorough inspection of the structure. Exclusions can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the size of the structure, equipment required, materials for repairs, labor time for repairs and sealing, and mileage to site. The cost for bat-proofing varies greatly depending on the combination of the previous factors. Some structures may require high-lifts or other equipment to perform a bat exclusion and bat-proofing. Bat-proofing requires any holes or cracks over ¼ inch to be repaired, sealed, caulked, screened, or otherwise eliminated. This can obviously become quite labor intensive on some structures. In some instances the primary entrance/exit holes are the only access points available, and basic repairs and an exclusion may be sufficient, while others require a week or more just to perform the complete bat-proofing process.
We inspect the building/home which allows us to provide a quote for the exclusion and bat-proofing. Our inspection costs reflect time, travel, and preparation of the exclusion program details. Performing an inspection can be time consuming, as we closely inspect the entire outer structure. Performing an inspection requires every inch of the structure to be checked thoroughly, top to bottom. We inspect the rooftop and check the lower rooflines, along with all dormers, window frames, and other potential bat entry points. A quick tip: If a company claiming to do bat work shows up for an inspection without a ladder, be cautious. I can't count the number of bat jobs I have performed "following up" companies that didn't use ladders, claiming they can "solve the problem" from the inside. It doesn't work.
We also inspect the attic or other possible internal roost areas if possible. During the spring, summer, and early fall we often schedule inspections in the afternoon or evening. We can then perform an observation after sunset to locate the access holes while we are at the site. We observe the structure as the bats exit for their nightly feeding. Bats usually begin leaving the structures about 15 minutes after sunset. This allows us to determine what equipment would be necessary for an exclusion and repair program.
Some insurance companies may cover bat exclusions, since they are not rodents. Most homeowners policies will not cover any rodent damage or removal, but since bats are not rodents contacting your agent prior to an exclusion is suggested. Oddly enough, we have found many insurance companies will not cover the exclusion cost, but will cover the guano removal and clean-up program.
Due to the drastic rises taking place in the cost of gasoline, inspection costs must now be determined by distance and fuel prices. Call or e-mail for a current inspection fee for your structure (please include city & state so we can figure distance to site)
We will prepare and send (e-mail, fax, or mail) a price quote for the exclusion program, which will include a detailed summary of the entire process. Inspection fees are due at the time of the site inspection. Rapidly rising gas costs have made it impossible to provide free estimates.
We recently (Aug/05) added a HEPA-vac to our equipment, and are now able to offer attic or other clean-outs. We can now safely remove bat droppings, bird droppings, and other animal waste accumulations from structures. This service requires specialized equipment, such as a HEPA-vac, full-face respirators, and disposable protective clothing. There are significant health risks associated with removing bat guano, bird or animal dropping accumulations. Our estimates may include the optional clean-out costs if requested.
We offer up to a 3-year warranty on our exclusions (depending on structure condition) if we bat-proof the structure. Our warranty included with total bat-proofing would apply in the event that bats locate another entry hole and return into the attic or roost area. The warranty does not cover maintenance oversights such as broken windows or storm damage, and does not apply if other animals chew holes into the structure that bats discover. We provide a detailed warranty info sheet for all exclusion programs. Due to the extremely poor condition of some structures and the rate of deterioration, some homes or buildings may not qualify for any bat-proofing guarantee.
It is totally optional, but we often suggest installing a bat house near the site where they are currently roosting. Bats are extremely beneficial for insect control, as they offer an environmentally friendly method of insect control instead of using poisons and chemicals. If bat houses are installed before the exclusion, there is a chance they may start using the bat houses after the exclusion devices are installed. The cost of a standard BCI approved bat house ranges from $50 to $75. If you decide to purchase a bat house, we offer to install it at no cost. We will also provide free detailed plans on how to build your own bat house, and information on placing the house for best results. Bats are great to have in the neighborhood, just not in your home. Note: Installing a bat house is NOT going to solve a bat problem in your home. I have seen MANY people install a bat house in their yard thinking the bats will move from their attic into the bat house. If it was that easy to solve bat problems, I would not be working 70+ hours a week from April through October.
We added a towable boom lift to our equipment in December of 2003. This allows us to reach many areas not accessible by ladders, and provides a safer working environment. It is great for installing chimney caps on 2 or 3 story homes. We can reach about 40 feet high. Our work schedule was previously affected by equipment scheduling through rental companies. Having our own lift allows us to respond to jobs in a more timely manner, and the towable lift is easier on lawns as compared to bucket trucks. Our lift can be positioned using a pickup truck, and can often be moved around by hand on hard surfaces.
We have added 2 additional lifts to our equipment in late 2005. We have a single-man lift with a 24-foot platform height which can be used outside or inside buildings. It allows access to tall inside peaks (such as churches) as it will fit through standard doorways. It is a small push-around unit. We also have a driveable scissors lift with a 24-foot deck height. This unit is great for working on long outside walls or other projects such as installing bird netting in loading docks, parking garages, or other canopy-type structures.