Ask SAM: Why do bats invade our swimming pool at night? | Local News

Q: We have an inground pool in our back yard. We have only just noticed bats descending into the pool at dusk, even when the kids are in the pool making noise. This happens every year. Can we do anything to discourage them?

Answer: Katherine Etchison, bat biologist for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, said the bats stop for a drink.

“One of the first things bats do when they come out of their roost is dive and drink in flight,” she said. “Usually it comes from a natural source of fresh water, but they can also drink from pools, especially if fresh water is limited or the pool is very close to the bats’ roost.

“Bats are sometimes deterred by the presence of bright lights, so illuminating the area while the pool is in use can discourage bats from drinking. They also need a fairly unobstructed flight path to drink on the kite, so putting obstacles like loungers or floats around the pool can also deter them.

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“The reader may also consider keeping a wildlife escape ramp in the pool overnight to help bats or other wildlife safely exit the pool if they accidentally find themselves bathe.

“It’s important to know that bats don’t pose a threat to anyone as long as people don’t try to touch or splash them. Bats want to avoid people and just have a drink. If they end up in the water, don’t touch them; use a long stick they can climb on and just lay the stick on the pool fence so they are off the ground and can fly away,” Etchison said.

*Bats are the only flying mammals.

* Bats provide free pest control. They can eat their body weight in insects every night. Each year, they save farmers over $1 billion in pest control by eating crop-damaging insects. Bats are attracted to insects flying around outdoor lights and contrary to popular folklore, they won’t get in your hair, according to the National Wildlife Commission.

*Bats are primary pollinators of more than 300 species of fruit, including bananas, avocados and mangoes, according to the US Department of the Interior.

*Bat droppings (guano) are rich in potassium nitrate and can be used as fertilizer. Saltpeter can be separated for use in gunpowder and explosives, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

* Guano was used during the American Civil War to make munitions.

Bats are threatened and in some cases their numbers are declining. The wildlife commission said populations of northern myotis and little brown myotis have declined by 93%. Other types of bats decreased by 73% to 83%.

The decline is caused by a number of factors, including habitat loss and a disease called white nose syndrome.

To help bats, the commission suggests putting up bat boxes and planting native plants that attract insects such as moths that bats like to eat. Your yard can become a bat diner.

Also be careful with insecticides and herbicides, using them as little as possible.

For more information on bats, go to and look for bats.

Melissa Hall, Direct Response Madam

Email: [email protected]

Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101

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