I picked up the booklet on the left about twelve years ago when attending a Washington Outdoor Women workshop. That's how long I've wanted to build one of these.
Of course, the one we built looks nothing like the illustrations on the front. There are several designs and detailed plans for them inside. My research indicated that the shape most likely to attract bats was vertical, with a place for the little darlings to crawl up under as if they were roosting under the bark of a tree.
So we took that design and went wild. A four-by-four, you say? How about a six-by-six instead. Twelve feet long? Let's try sixteen! Three foot exterior housing? More like five foot.
The sixteen-foot cedar post
The post, notched with a chainsaw to create places to hang out inside
Because, you see, we want a lot of bats. They can eat half their weight in insects every day. Things like mosquitoes, moths, and beetles. That in turn controls garden pests like cutworms, corn earworm, and cabbage moths. Plus, many insects avoid areas where there are bats, so having them right around our backyard and garden is ideal.
On the left is the exterior superstructure. It slides down over the notched post, providing a mere 3/4 inch gap for the bats to climb up under. It has ventilation holes you can't really see in this picture. And yes, the roof is longer on one side that the other. If anything were symmetrical around here, it would be completely out of place.
On the right is the complete box, in the ground. I'm around five foot tall, which accounts for the up, up, up angle of the photo.
They like water. The bat house is right by a stream that runs behind our back fence. They like warmth and a southern exposure. Done and done. [Ignoring the snow that is falling outside as I'm writing this -- yes, it's the second week of MAY.] They like a combination of cleared and wooded land. Got that covered. In short, we have the perfect place for bats to live.
We know there are some little brown bats around here already (though not in their new condo yet). They swoop and flutter through the gloaming, artfully dodging the cottonwood branches and scooping up snacks from the air. One day, perhaps, we'll be able to see them exit the house for their nightly rounds, predictable as the hordes at Carlsbad Caverns.Here batty, batty, batty...