Bats have had a significant decline in the past few years due to white nose syndrome. As a result, many people have done what they could to help bats repopulate. Bat ecologists Joy O’Keefe and Reed Crawford at the University of Illinois, have conducted a study to see how beneficial bat boxes are in helping repopulate bats.
They found that the common bat boxes that many people use may actually be harmful to bats. Many of the flat-paneled boxes with slats often get too hot for the bats and do not allow them to move away from the hot area. This is especially true of the boxes are painted a dark color.
If you want to put up a bat box, they suggest a four-sided box that gives the bats freedom to move all around the inside. Even with a better bat box, the placement is also critical. Do not put the box where it will get direct sun all day. The area where the bat box is located should be safe for bats, protecting them from predators, away from roads, and free from parasites.
What home owners can do is plant native trees and wildflowers that attract the insects that bats eat. Provide a clean water source and leave dead standing trees, which are natural roosting areas for bats.