It takes time, patience and a hint of deception to solve a bat infestation.
Not to mention a built-in immunity to getting a case of the heebie-jeebies.
David Schultz, owner of Schultz’s Nuisance Wildlife Control in Rock Falls, is one of the people who’s up to the challenge. He’s a nuisance wildlife expert tasked with relocating nocturnal invaders like the ones that decided to make their home in a Rock Falls resident’s walk-in attic, where the infestation forced the family living there out of the rental home about a month ago after city inspectors condemned the house.
But getting rid of the furry, flying rodents is easier said than done.
Schultz can’t just go in and spray bat killer.
“Bats are a federally protected species, so it’s illegal to kill them,” Schultz said.
He has to be a little more cunning with his approach; Schultz will add one-way exits and seal up the exterior entryways before installing a bat house in the yard sprayed with bat pheromones to entice them from the home.
The lengthy process started Monday when Schultz visited the home to get a clearer picture of how many bats he was dealing with.
“I would say that there were about 100 or so bats,” he said.
The next step was to pinpoint entryways bats used to go in and out during the night. In an older house, bats can find plenty of them.
“Bats will get in anywhere you can fit your fingers through, so we have to fully seal the house of all gaps along the roof,” Schultz said.
As for the larger entryways, Schultz brings in a special device fashioned out of plastic and wood. He attaches one-way exit tubes to the attic vents and seals up their re-entry with wire netting.
“Most people think bats use chimneys to get in, but if they do, it’s not often,” he said.
In fact, Schultz said the most typical way a bat gets in and out of a house is under a dormer — in the area where two roofs meet.
“There’s usually a gap between the roof and siding under the dormers where the bats get through, so we have to seal those up, too,” Schultz said.
With the exits covered and gaps sealed, the next step for Schultz is to provide a new home for the brown and black critters. When the bats leave the property, they will either go into trees, where they typically stay during the night, or find their way to Schultz’s bat house lined with bat pheromones they just can’t resist.
“Now we just wait four to seven days for them to clear out,” Schultz said.
Once the bats are gone, cleanup will ensue, but that’s where Schultz’s work is done because he doesn’t have the hazmat tools required to protect himself from guano, which is bat excrement.
After his work is done, Schultz will check in two weeks later to see whether any bats have returned and start the process over again. Once the bat problem is addressed, the house can be deemed livable again by the city.
But in the meantime, he’ll head to the next house in need of a bat expert.
“I’ve had about 35 to 40 bat calls so far this year,” Schultz said.
And it’s only going to get busier.
“August is the perfect time for a bat infestation. It’s hot outside, so they find cold and dark areas to live, and attics are perfect for that,” he said.