Bat the Bugs Away

Twenty-four of the forty bat boxes we made for this project

Matthew Reichert, Abigail Chicoine, Alyssa Vibert, Cole Kowalchuk, Stephanie Lukowski, and Raylene Hartl

Bat the Bugs Away

Our group is attempting to install bat boxes in public areas in Saskatoon. This will function to make public spaces more pleasant to walk through during the spring and summer seasons by reducing the amount of mosquitoes: a source of food for bats. Additionally, this will aid in stabilizing bat populations in Saskatoon and will reduce the number of bats nesting in homes where they are seen as a nuisance. In particular, our project will focus on large brown bats which are very common within the city. We currently have permission to install bat boxes at Pike Lake, and are awaiting a meeting with a city official to determine appropriate location for bat boxes to be installed on city land. We have obtained permission from Meewasin, the city of Saskatoon, and the University but must first meet with each of these authorities to determine specifics of installation and placement. We also have $1000 which we have secured through various grants. This money is being donated to the Meewasin Valley Authority who will use it to construct an educational sign regarding the bat boxes. We have built 40 bat boxes which we hope to install by the end of summer 2020.

If you know of a location that can use a new Bat Box, please contact Abby Chicoine!

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16 Comments

  1. Very cool project, and something I have been interested in for a while. Do you think that bat boxes would be suitable to install in residential backyards in Saskatoon, or do you think it is more beneficial to install them in public locations?

    1. Hi Amie,

      Installing bat boxes in residential backyards in Saskatoon is a great idea! Having bats in your yard will help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home. As long as you have a tree that is sturdy and allows for the box to be installed around 15 – 18 ft high with adequate “swooping” room (i.e. no branches that would inhibit the bats from entering the box), or a tall wooden post, you would be able to install a bat box! Other things to keep in mind are having the box facing south (to keep the inside warm) as well as minimal light pollution, otherwise, the bats may not choose to roost in your box.
      And, as per our project, installing them in public locations is beneficial as well, especially in more naturalized parks.

      Thanks for your interest in our project! If you have more questions, please feel free to reach out. You can also email me with personal inquiries at abigail.chicoine@usask.ca.

      Cheers,
      Abby

  2. Great project! I’m curious if you have developed ways to engage the public around the bat boxes and their intended purpose, e.g. informative signs or activities for kids? Looking forward to seeing the boxes around Saskatoon in the near future!

    1. Hi Max,

      So far, we have teamed up with Meewasin Valley Authority to create and design one sign to be placed in a park with a bat box to help educate the public. We hope to place the sign in a park that has a high amount of foot traffic to have as many people as possible see the sign.

      If you would like to know about education programs, Meewasin also has a Bat Education and Bat Box programs that are done throughout the year. They are educational programs that teach people about the misconceptions of bats, the effects of light pollution on bats, how to build a bat box, and more!

      Thanks for the interest in our project,
      Raylene

  3. I’m glad to see this project. I was at Pike Lake Provincial Park a couple of years ago with my family, and the kids really enjoyed the presentation about bats. One thing I noticed is that most people misunderstand bats, but they also were really curious to learn about them. It strikes me that some people might be alarmed about having bat boxes in their neighbourhood park, and that education would likely set people’s worries to rest. How might this project raise awareness about bats, in addition to providing shelter?

    1. Hi Andrew,

      So far, we have funds and plans for one sign to be placed with a bat box in a park or by a trail in the city. We are working with Meewasin Valley Authority to create and design the sign, and provide the location of the sign. We have information on the sign that is very similar to the bat presentation you went to; information on the misconceptions of bats, the benefits they have, how many bugs they eat, the rates of rabies in bats, and even how to help a bat if one is on the ground.

      Beyond the sign, I hope that people see the bat boxes and want to learn about what they are and in their own research find how they help and how bats help the environment.

      Thanks for the interest in our project,
      Raylene

  4. Cool project. I was wondering about installing the boxes at home too. I put one up a few years ago on a metal pole and I don’t think I knew then that you could put them in trees. Unfortunately it never did end up being occupied (regrettably I removed a chimney before I had the bat box up). The pole has since been removed, and I’m looking to redeploy the box.

    How much is adequate clearance for swooping? I also wonder if there are any groups or individuals in Saskatoon that might make an effort to relocate bats when they are discovered in unwanted roosts? Maybe this is a way to accelerate occupation of your boxes once they are deployed?

    For some reason while I was watching your presentation, a song came into my head…
    Little (Brown Bat) boxes on the tree-side
    Little (Brown Bat) boxes made of…

    1. Hi Colin,
      Glad to hear you’re planning on installing another bat box! There are no precise measurements for what would be an adequate swooping zone, however what we have been looking for (and what was recommended to us) is that there are no branches that are essentially in front of or below the opening to the box that would inhibit the bat from entering. This not only allows for the bats to get inside but also allows for more sunlight to reach the box as well (the boxes need to have direct sunlight in order to be warm inside). Check out some of the pictures we have uploaded to see what kind of trees we were looking for!

      We are also not entirely sure about any groups that may exist already in Saskatoon that are able to relocate bats when they are roosting in someone’s home, however, you can find city guidelines for what to do if you want to remove a bat from someone’s house here: https://www.saskatoon.ca/services-residents/pet-licensing-animal-services/wildlife-management. Installing a bat box would increase the chances that the bats may change their roosting location as well! Additionally, if a bat is found, contacting a wildlife rehabilitation center in Saskatoon would be a good option (Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation or Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan).

      We’re glad you enjoyed our presentation! If you wish to build and install a new bat box of your own, send me an email and I can send you the blueprints. The dimensions we are using are from Meewasin, and they have found these boxes to have the greatest success rate.

      Cheers,
      Abby
      abigail.chicoine@usask.ca

  5. Great Project! Great job!.
    I have a couple questions.
    Are the boxes identified as being your “U of S” project, a sticker perhaps?
    Have you thought about approaching the golf courses (e.g. mount on club houses)? Golfers don’t like bugs. haha
    The public educational aspect is terrific.
    You have inspired me to build my own bat house(s). Would you please send me your plan(s).
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Murray!

      Glad you liked our project. Unfortunately, we did not have any stickers made or bought to identify these boxes as ours, however a few of them will be marked for monitoring purposes. We have also gotten word that our signage will be many small signs we can disperse around the city, so hopefully with more signage they will be more easily identified as our boxes!

      We have not thought about approaching golf courses, but it is a great idea! We have already found homes for our 40 bat boxes, but if this project gets taken on by a group in the future, we will be sure to mention golf courses as a desirable location.

      We would also be happy to send you our bat box plans! Send me an email at abigail.chicoine@usask.ca and I will send you the blueprints along with what an ideal tree/location would look like.

      Thanks for your interest in our project, and good luck with building your own box!

      Abby

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