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, and simply takes advantage of their own behavior. Step 1 is to locate the entrance/exit holes. Entry points can be discovered by experienced bat exclusion specialists. Light staining, guano pellets, rub marks and other signs allow the primary access points to be determined. Locating bat access points requires a detailed inspection of the entire exterior.
Step 2 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. This is by far the most labor-intensive portion of a bat exclusion program. On most single or 2-story homes it can usually be perfomed in one day. On 2.5 or 3-story homes it can take 2 days or longer to perform the detailed sealing work necessary for a successful bat exclusion program.
Step 3 is to install one-way exclusion devices at the primary access points. This allows bats to exit the structure, but prevents re-entry. The one-way escape valves are harmless to the bats, and take advantage of their own behavior to evict them from the structure. After a week or longer (sometimes several weeks, depending on scheduling), the devices are removed and final openings permanently sealed. This is the final step in the exclusion process.
There are two periods during which bats can be evicted from structures in Illinois. The spring bat eviction period runs from March 15th through May 15th. During this time period, the winter hibernation phase has ended and bats are feeding on night-flying insects (if temps are warm enough). The cut-off date for the spring period is May 15th, as bats will begin having young by the end of May (in our region). Bats can not be evicted from May 15th through early August. Evicting them during the birthing season is not legal in Illinois. The young bats that are present in nursery colonies during that period would die inside, as the mother bats would not be able to return to nurse their young. This typically creates a problem even worse than having the bats in your attic, as the clean-up required to remove dead bats can require tearing out walls or other structural demolition and repairs. Also, young bats (unable to fly) may crawl throughout the structure as they are starving, actually increasing the potential for exposure to residents in the home.
The fall bat eviction period runs from August 5th through October 30th. This is the best time to perform bat exclusion programs, as all the young are flying, and bats are most active during the late summer and fall period as they feed heavily to build fat reserves for the winter hibernation period.
The birthing season (blackout period) happens to be the time when we receive the most bat calls, due to a couple factors. It is a time when young bats are leaving the nursery colony forthe first time, and sometimes "get lost" while trying to find their way outside. They end up flying around in your living areas. 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.
Even though the one-way escape valves can only be installed during the specified eviction periods, much of the sealing and repairs (secondary gaps and holes) can be performed before the spring period or during the blackout period, providing the primary access points are left open. The two time periods for evicting bats are fairly limited, which makes it impossible to perform all sealing, repairs, and exclusion work in those periods. 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 athorough 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 boom 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, from the foundation to the highest roof peaks. 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 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. Plus, if they aren't thorough enough to use a ladder for the inspection, they may be just as lax regarding their bat-proofing work.
We also inspect the attic or other possible internal roost areas when possible. This often reveals the severity of the issue. There may only be a single or a few bats using the structure, or there may be a colony. The amount of guano accumulated can often provide that information. This also allows us to determine if the clean-out portion of the bat remediation is possible for us to perform (if even desired by the homeowner). Large accumulations sometimes require a completely different company to perform removal and deodorizing/encapsulating. Due to experiencing an episode of heat exhaustion while perfoming an attic clean-out at a huge church back in 2010, I am no longer able to perform the large clean-outs.
Some insurance companies may cover bat exclusions, since they are not rodents. Most homeowners policies will not cover any rodentdamage 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, as they consider that 'damage'. Insurance typically considers the sealing work (bat-proofing) a normal home maintenance issue, therefor usually not covered by homeowner insurance.
After an inspection, 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.
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 gnaw or tear 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.
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.