While the bat is more associated with haunted houses and vampires, they are one of the most beneficial animals on the planet.
Each night, a typical bat consumes up to 1,000 mosquitoes and similarly sized insects.
Even their waste product known as guano is one of the best natural fertilizers in the world.
Having bats around your property offers plenty of benefits.
Of course, if you are going to provide the bats with a good comfortable home to live in, it needs to be painted and with the right color.
The best colors for bat houses in your yard will mostly depend on part of the country where you live.
However, before you decide on which paint to use for your bat house, it pays to know what it is, why you should build one, and then if you can use either paint or stain for the house.
What is a Bat House?
A bat house is a relatively small box normally made from wood. It is rectangular in shape with an open end on the bottom so bats can fly in.
Most bat houses are three feet long and two feet wide with an open space of four to five inches for the interior.
Inside the house at the top is normally a small bar so they can secure their feet as they hang upside down.
Bats spend their resting time upside down as it is their natural state. The inside of the box should be roughed up, so the bats can climb up to the bar at the top.
However, a bat will not call it home unless it is in a secure place well above the ground.
Remember that bats are mostly found on the ceiling of caves, so the bat house needs to be several feet above the ground for them to feel secure.
Why Build a Bat House?
There are good reasons why you should consider building or purchasing a bat house.
This is especially true if you are having issues with small, flying insects such as mosquitoes.
The first and most important benefit of having bats on your property is pest control.
Just a few bats can sweep the area clean of small, flying insects each night.
This means fewer bites from mosquitoes and the reduction of insects that can damage the plants in your garden.
But there are other benefits as well.
- Bats do not require feeding, they feed themselves
- Their guano can be collected and used for fertilizer
- They make little noise when in bat box, especially during the day
While bats can never be considered pets, you can think of them as natural pest control for your property.
They have a job to do and a typical bat can do it quite well.
So, now that you have decided on getting a bat house, the next question is whether it should be painted or not.
Should Bat Houses Be Painted?
Bats will avoid using a house if it’s too cold or too hot.
A good way to maintain the optimal temperature (and avoid overheating) is by painting a bat house with a color like medium brown.
In general, a bat house should be painted for two reasons.
- It protects the outside of the bat house from the various atmospheric elements like heat, rain, etc.
- And, it adds much-needed warmth to the inside of the bat house, especially in colder climates
How to Paint?
You should start with sanding the wood surface of the bat cave.
Then apply a coat of wood primer and two coats of acrylic latex exterior paint using a hand brush.
Make sure you select the high quality exterior paint that is mildew resistant and comes with excellent fade resistance qualities.
Remember not to apply the paint inside the bat house or on the pad where the bats will land. Bats prefer to have a rough natural surface to hang when they are roosting.
Bat boxes/houses are mostly maintenance free and you do not need to clean them often.
You should, however, repaint the bat boxes in the winter season when bats have left the place to hibernate.
Now that you know that a bat house should be painted, the next question is choosing the proper color that will be appealing to you as well as bats.
What Color to Paint a Bat House?
Based on where you live, a bat house should be painted a color that provides adequate warmth in the winter and a cooling effect during the summer.
For those who live in extreme climate conditions, such as in the mountains where cooler weather is prevalent most of the year, black is an excellent choice.
This will help keep the inside the house warm as the bats huddle together.
For extreme conditions of heat, such as in the desert southwest of the US, white is the preferred color. This will reflect most of the heat during the day.
For somewhat less heated conditions, such as those found in central and southern Texas and deep into Florida, brighter, lighter colors such as yellow or orange is a good color choice.
However, since most people live in temperate conditions where it gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer, you will need to use a medium shade of paint that can do a little of both.
Blue, green, or purple are excellent choices as they work in most climate conditions.
Just be sure that the shade you use is medium and not light or dark.
|Below 85°F||Black or darker shades|
|85°F to 95°F||Dark to medium shades|
|95°F to 100°F||Medium to light shades|
|100°F or Greater||Light shades|
What colors are bats attracted to?
Bats are blind and they do not see the colors in general. But they do tend to respond certain light colors more than others.
Migratory bats, for example, are attracted by red and green light but not by warm-white light colors.
Should You Paint or Stain a Bat House?
The answer is, you can either paint or stain a bat house.
The stain will also protect the exterior while the shade or color you choose will help keep the inside at a tolerable temperature.
Just be sure that the stain you use (either water-based or oil-based) can stand up to the elements.
As with paints, colder climates such as along the Canadian border, the New England area, and along mountain ranges should stain their bat houses a dark color such as deep blue or black.
Across the Great Plains, the Midwest, the South, and the deserts of Nevada, California, and Utah, it should be a somewhat lighter color such as standard blue or medium shade of stain.
For the mid-Texas area where the temperatures are warmer, a lighter color such as yellow for example works well.
And finally, for the Southwest desert regions in Arizona and southeastern California where temperatures are the hottest, white or lighter shades are the preferred color.
Where to Put a Bat House in Your Yard?
The best place to hang a bat house is on the side of your building, a pole or on a tall tree.
If there is a river or a stream locate the bat roost near to them as it will be able to attract the bats quickly.
These locations will be ideal because bats will find them more easily. Plus, the sun will be able to warm the bat roost efficiently.
When installing bat houses, remember that bats feel comfortable between 85- and 100-degrees F.
So, make sure that you mount them in an area that gets about 7-8 hours of direct sunlight.
How high should it be?
The best is to place them at a location that is a minimum of 10 to 12 feet high and is facing South to South East.
This way it will easily get early sunlight and will continue to get the sunlight all day.
Can it Be Dangerous to Have a Bat House?
While attracting bats in the bat house can be beneficial, there are certain disadvantages as well that you may need to know about.
The major one is the risk associated with rabies that some bats may come along with.
A few other disadvantages of having a bat house installed include:
- Their droppings in areas like attic and roof can carry diseases
- Attracting bats can be dangerous for your kids and pets as they can bite them
- They can be destructive to plants in the garden and can chew on wooden structures
To avoid danger consider placing a bat house outdoors that is far from your doors and windows. This will avoid the entry of bats into your home.
When DIY making bat boxes, use a rough, nontoxic wood like plywood, cedar, or pine.
Consider sanding the wood surfaces lightly before you apply the paint to your bat house.
Rough sanded surfaces of the box will make it relatively easier for bats to climb in and out of the house.
Also, consider buying a tall multi-chamber house that comes with one or two roosting crevices.
This will help in attracting smaller as well as larger species of bats in one place.
The Bottom Line
A bat house can be quite beneficial to your property. Even if you do not have a garden, the bats will keep the flying insect population down.
This means that you can spend more time outdoors with less worry about being bitten by mosquitoes.
Plus, apart from the flapping of their wings, you may not know that a bat is even around.
Long story short, these almost silent guardians against small flying insects will be of great benefit to you and your property.
So, why not attract them by installing a bat house and paint it right for them so that they can stay there safely and benefit you for a long.
Remember, stains tend to be easier to apply, but they may not last like paint. So, you will need to choose the one based on your preference.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.