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Bat Removal Q&A - Repcolite Home Improvement Show Grand Rapids

Wednesday, April 3, 2019



[Speaker 1]:  ... Home. This is the RepcoLite Home Improvement Show, presented by Benjamin Moore on News Radio Wood 1300 and 106.9 FM.

[Dan Hanson]:  Well, Betsy, we're going to talk about something really fun right now. Bats. We were just watching ... This is interesting because we were just watching and Andy Griffith episode and I showed you this and Don Knotts is going into a cave and he told Thelma Lou to watch out for the Bats because they're going to get in your hair and lay eggs and make you crazy.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Yeah.

[Dan Hanson]:  So I decided that we needed to check with our guests because we're in the studio with David [Pop 00:00:36] from Rose Pest Solutions, the District Manager, and [Dale Hodgson], the Regional Technical Manager, again from Rose Pest Solutions. So we're going to dig into this bat thing and get some answers.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Yeah, thank for being here, gentlemen.

[David Pop]:   You're welcome.

[Dale Hodgson]:   Pleasure.

[Betsy Thompson]:  So first of all, are the bats going to make a nest in my hair and lay eggs? Let's just clear this up right now.

[Dan Hanson]:  And make her crazy, that was the other part.

[Betsy Thompson]:   And make me crazy?

[Dale Hodgson]:  To ease everybody's minds, no, the bats do not lay in wait, waiting for somebody with the tallest hair to get into.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Oh, thank goodness. Well, if it was the tallest hair, that would be Dan's. So sorry, you're out of luck.

[Dan Hanson]:  That's true.

[Betsy Thompson]:  So I guess, from what I've heard, you guys start getting calls this time of year about bats. People are starting to see them coming out, or they're starting to see them perhaps around their home, in their home. Why is that?

[Dale Hodgson]:   Well the bats are hibernating most of the winter. They actually started hibernating about toward the end of October. And they've been sleeping this whole time, now it's time for them to wake up because the insect populations are up again. Or they're starting to climb. Once the food is out, the bats will be out as well. And they'll be getting their feeding and rearing their young.

[Betsy Thompson]:  So what all are they looking for to eat? I mean I've seen stink bugs all winter long?

[Dan Hanson]:  Oh, so you're hoping that they're gonna be scoping out the stinkbug population?

[Betsy Thompson]:  I can always hope. But I have a lot less. I will just give you a quick plug here David because I had you guys come out and I have exponentially less than I had in previous years. But there are a few little stragglers. So are they gonna eat my stinkbugs?

[Dale Hodgson]:   They won't consume them entirely. They may try one or two of them, but they're called stinkbugs for a reason. Not only do they stink, they do not taste very well.

[David Pop]:  Yeah, they're really terrible.

[Betsy Thompson]:   I know that because one died in my water glass, and I didn't know it in the middle of the night, and I took a swig. Ugh. That is disgusting. I feel bad for anything that tries them. So what are they eating if they're not eating stinkbugs?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Well, bats are insectivores. They eat, all our species of bats that we have around here, eat insects. They don't eat hair, they don't suck your blood, they don't do anything like that. And their favorite food really is the night flying moth. The large, juicy night-flying moths that we see, that's what they're after the most. They will feed on smaller insects. We used to say that bats would eat 600 mosquitoes an hour. But now we're saying that bats will eat about 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour.

[Dan Hanson]:  Oh, wait a minute, so they're not eating the mosquitoes as billed?

[Dale Hodgson]:   They're not eating the mosquitoes to get rid of them or anything like that.

[Dan Hanson]:   Is this something that they've intentionally changed their patterns?

[Dale Hodgson]:   No, they haven't changed. We've changed our knowledge.

[Dan Hanson]:   We just didn't notice.

[Dale Hodgson]:   We know better now.

[Dan Hanson]:  What a disappointment that is.

[Betsy Thompson]:   Yeah.

[Dan Hanson]:  Because I don't mind the juicy night-flying moth. But I really detest the mosquito.

[Betsy Thompson]:   Yeah, and it's a little sad to hear that the bats are not taking care of those.

[Dan Hanson]:  They're not eating stinkbugs or as many mosquitoes. Now, Dale, what we should do, before we go too much further, because I've got a bunch of questions about this whole exclusion thing and what we can do and when we need to do it, but when we contacted David about this particular interview, he suggested you because Dale has, David, a whole bunch of letters behind his name, right?

[David Pop]:  Yes, he's full of letters. He is one of five of our board-certified entomologists at Rose. But he carries a distinction that is quite the honor because he's one of 25 individuals in the United States that carries the CWCP, which is a Certified Wildlife Control Professional. It sounds simple, but it's quite extensive what he had to do to be able to get this. And only 25 people in the United States, that's quite amazing. He's certified through the National Wildlife Control Operators Association.

[Dan Hanson]:   Which is another string of letters. The NWCOA. Did I do that right?

[David Pop]:  You did.

[Dale Hodgson]:  That's right.

[David Pop]:  Dale has become our company's go-to wildlife person. And professional. His knowledge is very extensive and we're very proud to have him.

[Dan Hanson]:  Because you guys do more than just bug control. Sometimes that's the idea that comes across. But you mention wildlife. Dale, what exactly do you get involved with? Are you wrestling gators and stuff?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Well, we're not wrestling gators or anything like that.

[Dan Hanson]:  Would you like to?

[Dale Hodgson]:  I'm interested in all kinds of things. So ...

[Betsy Thompson]:   I hear that as a yes.

[Dale Hodgson]:  I have gotten calls about snakes. We do raccoons, squirrels, possums, the usual stuff. Bats, as well. I think the most exotic thing I've ever done was pull a king snake out of a dormitory room that had escaped from three floors above it.

[Dan Hanson]:  That sounds relatively exotic. Or terrifying.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Yeah, terrifying.

[Dale Hodgson]:   It was six-foot king snake, and you really didn't want that in your dorm room if you didn't want it to be there.

[Dan Hanson]:  So how lucky for you to be one of the few people that get to be involved in that stuff because you're an expert. Did you go to a special school for wrestling snakes?

[Dale Hodgson]:  No, I did not go to ... The real education started the day I graduated.

[Dan Hanson]:  And then the real education started the day you grabbed a hold of one end of that snake.

[Dale Hodgson]:  That's correct. And you have to grab the right end. How I got into this, I have been putting insects in jars and catching critters ever since I was a little kid. And I just managed to turn that into a life-long career.

[Betsy Thompson]:  That's not a bad thing. We appreciate it, let me tell you. All right, now wait, let's go back to bats. Because that's where we were. Do they carry rabies? Because is that why-

[Dale Hodgson]:  Yes, they do.

[Betsy Thompson]:  ... we should be concerned if they are in our space?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Well, there's a couple of reasons why we should be concerned that they're in our space. One is yes, they do carry rabies. But the populations that carry rabies really run maybe two to five percent at most. Where people have trouble is they'll see a bat lying on the ground and they'll try to handle it. They don't know how to handle it, they'll pick it up.

[Dan Hanson]:   Why would they do that?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Well, people are kind, generally, they want to make-

[Dan Hanson]:  Oh, so they're trying to be helpful.

[Dale Hodgson]:   ... they're trying to be nice to the animal. And they'll pick it up, get bitten, and then that potentially could be a rabies threat. So we should have the bat tested and the person has to take appropriate measures after that.

[Betsy Thompson]:    What about our pets and things like that? Like my dog likes to pick up things, and what if she comes in with a bat?

[Dale Hodgson]:  If an animal carries a bat home like a dog or a cat would bring back a little trophy to show you, and it's a bat, that bat really needs to be tested for the animal's sake. And those bats can be sent to Michigan State Virology. That can be googled, too. And they would give you exact protocol on how to prepare that. The bat will have to be sent in whole and it'll be tested and you'll get results back very quickly.

[Betsy Thompson]:   Now if we get bit by a bat, is it the same protocol?

[Dale Hodgson]:   Exact same thing.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Do we have to kill it?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Well, yeah, the bat needs to be killed. Which is gonna be hard for a homeowner to do. But however, that's decided upon is that that the head cannot be injured in any way.

[Dan Hanson]:   Because that's what tested?

[Dale Hodgson]:  That's what's tested. The brain tissue is tested. And that head has to be intact.

[Dan Hanson]:   So that's if we're bitten, that's if our animal handles it. Are those the only main concerns?

[Dale Hodgson]:   Well if there are ... usually-

[Dan Hanson]:   The skin has to be broken?

[Dale Hodgson]:   The skin doesn't necessarily have to be broken. If somebody were in a room sleeping, or a little one, a child was in a room sleeping, and there's a bat flying around in there or a bat hanging in the wall, and you hadn't been in there the whole time to see this bat, that bat should be tested. There's a potential that the bat could've crawled across that person, could've crawled across their skin or their mouth or something to that nature. And that's how rabies is transmitted.

[Dan Hanson]:   So that bat would have to be captured.

[Dale Hodgson]:   Captured, euthanized, sent in for testing.

[Dan Hanson]:   Sent in for testing. And we can get all that information online?

[Dale Hodgson]:   Yes.

[Dan Hanson]:   Should we ever have that situation occur.

[Dale Hodgson]:  That's correct. The first call to make would be your local health department, then they would be more than happy to instruct you.

[Dan Hanson]:    So if we have them in the house, if we find them in the house, our best bet is to just leave them alone and get ahold of you guys?

[Dale Hodgson]:   We would prefer that you would call us to handle your bats, whether it's a bat that's in a room, gets in your house, or you may have a colony of them in your attic, or in the walls and things. You may hear scratching over the winter. We can exclude those, but we have to do that at the right time.

[Dan Hanson]:   We had one in our house a couple of years ago, three years ago. And oh my goodness, no, it's longer than that. Doesn't matter. Well, it does, because I was less mature, so that is very important. But the kids made a video of my dealing with the bat. And as I'm walking up the steps, because they told me where he is, they've seen him in the upstairs, and I've got a Rubbermaid, or a Tupperware thing and a little cardboard slide underneath it that I'm gonna put it over him and get him out. So I'm going up the steps and there's this video, and I'll all cool and collected. Guys, no big deal. "Dad, you're so brave." I said, "Yeah, this is what Dad's do, okay. We do this stuff."

[Betsy Thompson]:   Did it fly at your face?

[Dan Hanson]:   No, he stayed right there. But you can watch the color drain from my face as I approach him. And then I'm trembling as I'm trying to control the little cardboard slider. And then he moves and the whole thing fell apart. And I realized very quickly ... I got him outside and I was unharmed and the children, after a number of therapy sessions are fine. We learned, let the experts deal with them. Is now the time? Because you said we're starting to see them now. But now isn't the time to really start dealing with it, correctly?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Correct. Now is not the time to do exclusion work. Although, let's, for example, let's say you have bats in your attic. If the bats are getting into the living space and we see where they're coming in from, yes, we can stop them from doing that. We cannot exclude them from going in and out, though, just now. Because what happens is, in the bat life cycle, bats mate in the fall. But the females don't "get pregnant" until the spring. So they're just now gonna start having their young, maybe in another four weeks. And what happens at that point is when the bats, in their normal course of flight time, bats will leave their roost, fly, feed, come back. They don't carry the young with them. If we were to exclude the bats now, the bats would leave and not be able to get back into the roost and the young would die and we don't want that. Bats are very beneficial and misunderstood creatures.

[Dan Hanson]:  Okay, well that sounds like a challenge. With that said, we're gonna go to a break. Can you guys hang with us?

[Dale Hodgson]:   Sure.

[Dan Hanson]:  And I wanna find out exactly why they're so beneficial. Don't you wanna know?

[Betsy Thompson]:  Yes, and why they're so sadly misunderstood. I have my guesses.

[Dan Hanson]:   Well, we're gonna find out all of that in just a few minutes. So stay with us.

[Speaker 1]:  If you want to take your DIY skills up a wrung, the RepcoLite Home Improvement Show is here to give you a boost. On News Radio Wood 1300 and 106.9 FM.

[Dan Hanson]:  And we're back. I'm [Dan Hanson].

[Betsy Thompson]:   And I'm [Betsy Thompson].

[Dan Hanson]:  And we are in the studio with [Dale Hodgson] and [David Pop] from Rose Pest Solutions. And David, you've been here a number of times. We've talked about all kinds of bugs and what to do with one. In fact, we've got one of our managers, the manager at our Plainfield store has expressly said that we have to stop talking about bugs. Because it literally freaks him out. But, we've had a lot of fun having you here because it's helping us understand some of the stuff and be able to solve some of these problems.

[Dan Hanson]:  Now we're talking about bats right now, and nothing is really, I don't know many things that are more disconcerting than sitting in the living room, having a great time, watching the Tigers, and all of a sudden there's this flopping around the room, and you realize it's a bat and everything gets real, real fast. But at the end of the last segment, Dale, you mentioned that bats are beneficial and great little wonderful creatures.

[Dale Hodgson]:  That's correct.

[Dan Hanson]:   Help me understand exactly what makes them so amazing.

[Dale Hodgson]:  Well bats are the only mammal that actually flies on its own. The only close we have to that are flying squirrels, and they're gliders, so they cheat a little bit.

[Dan Hanson]:  It is, that whole flying thing, I've always said that. That it's such a cheat.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Well, it's like penguins that are birds, but they don't really fly.

[Dan Hanson]:   They're cheaters, too. So the bats are the real deal?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Yes, the bats are the real deal.

[Dan Hanson]:  They're mammals?

[Dale Hodgson]:  They're mammals, correct. And they're not a rodent. A lot of people think bats are rodents, but they're not. They're their own group of animal. Their arms and legs have been modified with a membrane between them, and they are capable of sustained flight.

[Dan Hanson]:  But they're not rodents?

[Dale Hodgson]:  They're not rodents.

[Betsy Thompson]:  They look a little bit like it.

[Dale Hodgson]:   They look a lot like a rodent, and there's the German word if I pronounce this incorrectly, I apologize, die fledermaus, is German for bat. And what that means is a flying mouse.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Yeah, they do kind of look like flying-

[Dale Hodgson]:  They do look like that, but if you really ... I would suggest that you just google pictures of bats and look at their teeth. They are not rodent teeth by any means. They look similar to canine, but they're not canine either. They're their own specific group.

[Dan Hanson]:  Okay, so they're flying mammals. What other things make them beneficial, though?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Well they're beneficial, they do eat a lot of insects and they do help manage that. You're not gonna get rid of every mosquito in your yard or never be bitten with another insect again because you've had bats, but they do control the insect populations.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Now I know that there are different types of bats because I have seen those things in the Amazon or whatever. They have vampire, blood-sucking bats, which are terrifying. Oh, I don't wanna ever see one of those. I would not go looking for one. And then there are little teeny-tiny bats that like hanging on the undersides of leaves. What kind of bats do we have here?

[Dale Hodgson]:  You have, this part of Michigan, you have about nine species. And they range from the smallest, which is the tricolor bat, which is up north in the UP, they may weight a quarter of an ounce fully grown. The most common bats that we have around here in this area are a big brown and little brown. They're anywhere from a once, two and a half. They're not very big. And when you said.

[Dan Hanson]:  Even the big brown isn't very big?

[Dale Hodgson]:   No, the big brown is not very big.

[Dan Hanson]:  Is that a cheat name, too?

[Dale Hodgson]:  It's a cheat name, too. It's to distinguish it from the little brown.

[Dan Hanson]:  I was assuming those were monsters.

[Dale Hodgson]:  Now when we get our calls, we know how big bats are. But usually, when we have folks call us, they're in a panic just like most people are. They will describe a bat as being maybe three feet between the eyes.

[Betsy Thompson]:  They seem bigger when they're all stretched out there.

[Dale Hodgson]:  There are people, if you remember the movie Crocodile Dundee, with those bats. Those were actually bats and they weren't CGI or anything like that. They were real. They were flying foxes. And those don't eat blood or anything either. They're pollinators. They eat fruit and nectar.

[Dan Hanson]:  But they're absolutely terrifying.

[Dale Hodgson]:   Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind. They see very well. But when they hunt, they do click, which is an audible sound, and they also use echolocation, which is not audible to us but there are devices out there where you can bring that frequency down to an audible level. It is amazing to hear. And that's basically how bats hunt. They will use their echolocation.

[Dan Hanson]:   So interesting, because you were mentioning, Dale, a video that you play ... Tell me about this video, because you had video, slow-motion video of bats actually catching their food.

[Dale Hodgson]:   Yes, and that's readily available on the internet. You can find that just google bats feeding and you will see them, there are very good videos. What they do is most people think that when bats hunt, or when you see them out flying around, they just grab the insects with their teeth. They really don't. They wrap their body's around them. They use that wing membrane, and they have a tail membrane that they curl around the insect and pull it up into its mouth. That happens so fast, you would never see that. But on high-speed video, it is an amazing thing to watch.

[Dan Hanson]:   It sounds like how my kids grab a piece of cake when that's thrown on the table. It's just this full-body lunge and then wrap around it. And then the pile starts.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Sure.

[Dan Hanson]:  Now, David, let's get to some of the ... In the last little bit that we've got, let's highlight what we can do. Now's not the time to exclude the bats. If we have them in our home and we know where they're coming from, we can at least block that off. That's okay.

[Dale Hodgson]:  Correct.

[Dan Hanson]:  But when is the right time to get this problem resolved and how do we do it?

[David Pop]:  Well, like Dale had said, the exclusion part of taking care of the bats is we generally will do it between July and the end of October. And what we would do is first off, we would apply an apparatus, something similar, we call them bat cones, where it allows the bats to go out of the area where they're in. If it was in an attic or a soffit. But they cannot return back in there. So we would be excluding them from that area. Then after a period of time, we go back and we seal that area up once we ... we wanna make sure that all the bats are out of the area first before we do that. So something similar as that, if there's large areas that we can exclude, we might be putting up hardware cloth to make sure that nothing can actually get back into those areas.

[Betsy Thompson]:  And is it true that we shouldn't be killing bats if we do find them? We should trap them and put them outside and let them go?

[Dan Hanson]:  Or let an expert trap them.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Well, yes. But if you have one in your house in the middle of the night, you may not wanna wait.

[Dan Hanson]:  Yeah, don't call me. I'm unreliable.

[Dale Hodgson]:  Actually, the cardboard and the Tupperware container, the plastic container like that's not a bad way to do it. I would suggest, though, that if you do something like that, to wear a very heavy set of gloves.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Like leather gloves?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Leather gloves. Yes.

[Dan Hanson]:  I was wearing leather underpants.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Are they like birds where if you touch them ... Like they say baby birds if you touch them then the mother doesn't want to have anything to do with them. Are bats like that, too?

[Dan Hanson]:  Why would you wanna touch them?

[Betsy Thompson]:  To pick them up to take them outside.

[Dan Hanson]:  You don't touch them. But do the baby bats-

[Dale Hodgson]:  No. First of all, once the young bats are old enough to fly, and that's we wait so long to do the exclusion work, that gives them the chance to grow and develop and fly on their own. So at that point, they're really not under the parent's care so much anymore. So they're not like a bird, that's just not true. I don't suggest you handle bats unless you've been trained to do it. I've handled bats barehanded, but I've been trained over the years to do that.

[Dan Hanson]:  Why?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Why? I do a lot-

[Dan Hanson]:   Just to be tough?

[Dale Hodgson]:   I do a lot of things that people ask why.

[Dan Hanson]:  Well, at least we're the same in that regard. He's like super brave, but I still get a lot of questions about why are you doing that?

[Betsy Thompson]:  Yeah, not the same kind of way that he gets.

[Dan Hanson]:   You have barehanded?

[Dale Hodgson]:  Oh, sure. But to handle a bat, they're very fragile actually. Their wing membranes are thin. And I usually tell people not to handle them unless they know how because if you damage that wing membrane, that is not good for the bat at all. And we really do not wanna harm our bats.

[Dan Hanson]:  Well I know we had one bat in the house another time and this was-

[Betsy Thompson]:  You have a thing with bats.

[Dan Hanson]:  Well, we had a fair amount that would just get into the old house. But this one, it was the very first one, and he's flying around the living room. And my wife's freaking out, everybody's freaking out. I got over it. Believe it or not, I really did. And I got a broom, and I was just trying to not hit him, I was trying to get him to go out the front door, and I was kind of moving him around the room, and then he would eventually, he was getting very tired. And so at one point, he clings to the crown molding. And he's just sitting there and his little chest is heaving. And my wife says, "Get him! He's stopped." I said, "He's resting. And we're gonna give him a break." Because I bonded with him. He couldn't maintain his height because he was so tired. And he zoomed right out the door. It worked really well.

[Dale Hodgson]:  That's usually the suggestions we give the people if they have a bat flying around in a room. Open the windows. The bats don't wanna be in there, they really don't. They're out hunting, in most instances they'll find those air currents and they will go right back outside and you'll be happy, they'll be happy. Everybody will be happy.

[Dan Hanson]:  That was such a happy moment. And, I didn't hurt him. I took care of my little bat friend. But, David, we're about at the end of this segment, if our listeners have issues with bats, or concerns or questions or anything that you guys might help them with, how do they best get in touch with you guys?

[David Pop]:  Well, they can call us directly at, in this area, 616-534-5493. They can also reach us through our website at And also any of the socials, YouTube, Twitter, the whole ... Any social.

[Dan Hanson]:  All right. Good deal. Betsy's made use of your services and [crosstalk 00:21:45] you up.

[Betsy Thompson]:  I have.

[Dan Hanson]:  She is almost stinkbug free.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Almost.

[Dan Hanson]:  Working towards it.

[Betsy Thompson]:  Just a few little stragglers.

[Dan Hanson]:   David and Dale, thanks so much for being here.

[Dale Hodgson]:  Thank you very much.

[David Pop]:  You're welcome. Thank you.

[Dan Hanson]:  Now, when we come back, we're gonna talk about one of the coolest color tools we ...




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