Both spiders and bats are associated with all things scary and creepy, and while we do get calls about both of them here at Siani, we think they kind of have a bad rap. We’re going to bust some myths and provide tips to rid your home of these two pests, if you’ve got them.
If there’s any animal that is consistently associated with all that’s scary, spooky and creepy it’s the bat. It’s tempting to think of the bat as a mouse or a rat that flies, but this isn’t the case. There are lots of myths and folklore that surround the bat so let’s dispel some myths and get the facts.
Bat myth #1: they are blind.
Bats can see, but they use a sonar system called echolocation to target insects in total darkness. In fact they can sense something as fine as human hair! Which brings us to myth #2.
Bat myth #2: they love to fly into your hair.
Not true, we’re not even sure how this got started but no, they don’t. See Myth #1.
Bat myth #3: Bats have rabies!
Bats have the same chance to get rabies as any other mammal, and while there ARE rabid bats, many are not. Just to be safe, do not ever handle any bat, particularly one that can be easily approached, as it may be sick and may bite.
Myth #4: Bats are mice or rats with wings.
Bats aren’t rodents at all and in fact scientists have put them in a class by themselves.
Bat facts: Bats are mammals that leave their roost at nightfall to find insects to eat, returning before dawn (like vampires!). While bats may be sort of scary looking, they’re pretty good at pest control. Bats eat up to one third of their body weight in insects every night, including mosquitoes, beetles, ants, wasps and flies. Many bats live in caves or other natural protected spaces (like dead hollow trees, another Halloween favorite!) and most migrate someplace warmer or hibernate in the colder months. But they can get into your attic or in your vents or chimneys. Bats *can* carry rabies, and their droppings, called guano, contain fungi that cause the lung disease histoplasmosis. We’re going to emphasize this because it’s important: You should never go near any accumulation of guano; call a professional to disinfect the area and remove the droppings. They also carry bat mites and bat bugs which, despite their names, aren’t picky and will bite humans as well as bats.
If you see guano or have other evidence of bats in your attic or anywhere else inside your house, do not engage, as rabies can be transmitted through saliva or even coming in contact with a bat (so no chasing them with garlic or trying to put a stake through their hearts!) Again, call a pest professional to thoroughly disinfect the area where there are droppings and remove the animals.
Bats are a protected species, so you cannot interfere with them while they are flying or hibernating. But once they’re inside, it’s up to the homeowner’s discretion to have them removed. Early fall (September-October) is a great time to bat proof your home. Pick an evening and do a “bat watch” and see where bats, if any, are flying out of your house at night. Screen your chimneys and vents and any other openings large enough for bats to enter.
Spiders, like bats, are creepy looking, and the webs are frequent Halloween decorations. What’s a good haunted house without some spider webs in the corners? But they are also good at pest control! Their webs trap flies and other insects on which the spiders subsist.
Spider myth #1: Spiders are insects.
Spiders are, like bats, in a class by themselves.
Spider myth #2: Spiders are aggressive.
Spiders are as freaked out by us as we are of them. If it seems like the spider is rushing at you, the poor thing may have poor eyesight and is just really trying to get away. Spiders, even black widows and brown recluse, won’t bite unless provoked.
Spider myth #3: you are never more than 3 feet from a spider
If you’re outside in your yard, then you probably *are* within 3 feet of a spider. But in your car? A parking lot? Your house? You might be we’ll give even odds that you’re not.
Spider facts: They eat insects like mosquitos and roaches, as well as moths, which is obviously helpful, and help to lessen the spread of diseases caused by those pests. They will also kill other spiders. But as beneficial as they can be, you do NOT want an infestation of spiders in your house. First off, if you’ve got spiders, you probably have other insects which are providing a steady food supply for the spiders, so those smart spiders might be the least of your worries! If you’re seeing a lot of webs in your attic, basement or any where else in your house, call a pest control professional to assess the spider situation and help to figure out what other insects you’ve got that are providing food for them.