Bats in the attic and bees in the eaves

A couple of years ago we discovered that we had bats in the attic. This year we also have some bees nesting in the eaves.

Roof spaces, eaves and other gaps in buildings can provide useful spaces for bats, bees and other wildlife to nest.

Bat
Bat

Bats in the attic

About 5 years ago, we started to hear strange scratching noises coming from the attic. We looked in the attic but couldn’t see anything. The noises continued on and off for a few weeks, and then stopped.

The next year it happened again, scratching and scraping noises – sometimes keeping me awake at night. We thought that it might be birds as there were jackdaws nesting in the adjacent chimney. We thought it might be squirrels (apparently the previous owner of the house had squirrels in the attic in the past). However, when we looked we could see no evidence of what was making the noise.

It happened again the next year, and this time I realised that it could be bats. I wasn’t sure so I did a bit of research and it seemed quite likely that our mystery visitors were bats.

That evening at dusk, I sat out in the garden and watched the roof. During a period of about 20 minutes I counted 19 bats come out from under the roof and fly away.

We discovered that what we had was probably a maternity roost: a temporary summer roost used by pregnant female bats.

Maternity roost

As the weather gets warmer, pregnant female bats gather together in warm, safe places to have their babies. These roosts are called maternity roosts.

Some bats like to use spaces in and around old buildings for a maternity roost.

Our bats seem to arrive at about the same time (in mid June) each year. This year they arrived on the 15th June and they have been scratching and scraping each day and night since.

The bats usually stay for 3 – 4 weeks, and then they are gone.

Last year the bats arrived and then left again shortly after.
We did have a wasp nest in the eaves nearby, so we are not sure if this may have upset the bats and caused them to move elsewhere.

Read what the The Bat Conservation Trust have to say about bats and marternity roosts.

Identifying the bats

After checking the bat descriptions on The Bat Conservation Trust (BTC), we think that our bats are probably pipistrelle bats.

Pipistrelle bat
Pipistrelle bat

The length of a pipistrelle (head & body) is only 35mm – 45mm. They weigh just 3g – 8g and their wingspan is 200mm-235mm.

According to the The Bat Conservation Trust web site, pipistrelles are the commonest and most widespread of all British bat species, and they are the bats that you are most likely to see. “They appear fast and jerky in flight as they dodge about pursuing small insects, which the bats catch and eat on the wing.” They also like to roost in eaves and under roof tiles.

This description certainly matches our bats. As they come out from under the roof, they fly one or two erratic circles between the houses and then fly away.

BTC have some good articles (and descriptions of UK Bats) and fact sheets for each bat. https://www.bats.org.uk/about-bats/what-are-bats/uk-bats

Their fact sheet on the pipistrelle states that “A single pipistrelle can consume up to 3,000 insects in one night! 3,000 insects in one night!
So we are hoping that during their stay here, they will do a good job of getting rid of some of the midges and biting insects which plague our garden on summer evenings.

The Bat Conservation Trust

They can be a little bit noisy at times, but we like having them and we hope that they will be back again next year.

Bats are a protected species and it is illegal to disturb their roost in any way.

Bats in the Attic

As evening falls and light fades,
Sounds from the attic begin to be heard:
Persistent scratching, low vibrations.
Perplexingly strange; unsettling, bizarre.
Yet we are not worried; we have nothing to fear.
No daemons above, nor ravenous beasties.
Just a family of bats, nursing their young,
Preparing to fly on their nightly hunt.
If we time it right, we can see them emerge
They are welcome indeed to share our home.

John Pierpoint, 2020