Bats are one of nature’s wonders, insect erdicatorsRecently a friend who lives just north of New Richmond called and asked me about bats. He had a new roof put on his home and in the process of re-roofing, three layers of old shingles were removed.
By: Mike Reiter, New Richmond News
Recently a friend who lives just north of New Richmond called and asked me about bats. He had a new roof put on his home and in the process of re-roofing, three layers of old shingles were removed. This procedure may have produced some openings along the roofline for a few opportunistic bats to set up shop in the attic. It only takes an opening 3/8th of an inch wide to admit bats. While bats are very beneficial animals, bats in the wrong place can be a nuisance. Noise and feces along with an occasional intrusion downstairs can be problematic.
Wisconsin is the home to eight species of bats. Three of the species migrate south for the winter while five others over-winter in caves, crevasses and occasionally buildings. Some prefer buildings in the summer to raise their young. The little brown bat is very common and is the most frequent resident of attics and buildings.
Bats are a family of mammals that are misunderstood and, at times, feared. In reality, they are extremely beneficial to humans, eating a tremendous number of insects including mosquitoes. All Wisconsin bats eat only insects. They are true mammals and the only mammal that actually flies under its own power. Animals like flying squirrels can only glide. Being a mammal, they nurse their young, are warm blooded and are covered with fur. They also hibernate in the winter. They have a unique echo locating system to help them navigate and feed under low light conditions. Those that migrate also return home to the same location each year. Some folks will construct bat roosts which are somewhat like birdhouses. The bats can then be provided a safe place to live without having to rely on a human abode as they carry out their insect eradication duties. Bats are really one of nature’s wonders.
When bats get into a dwelling and are considered a problem, the best way to urge them to move on is to plug the holes where they are gaining entrance. Watching at night to observe the bats leaving the house can help locate these portals of entry. Bats cannot gnaw their way into a home like mice or red squirrels and are forced to find a new place to live. Entering the attic in the day time to observe entering sunlight or placing a light source in the attic at night and watching outside for light leaving the building will also help in locating these problem areas. If the animals cannot get back in, they will move on to another location. Bat-proofing is really the best and only long-term solution to a bat problem.
Recently one evening, as I was sitting on my back deck, sipping a cold Leinie’s Original and listening to the radio as the Brewers swept the visiting Twins, I had an opportunity to observe a couple of bats catching insects as they patrolled my backyard. I may just look into putting up one of those bat roosts to help those little guys out.
Mallards and Erickson WPA
by Tom Kerr USF&WS
Recently, I noticed a mallard hen with a brood of 10 newly hatched ducklings near the Erickson Waterfowl Production Area which is located just northeast of New Richmond. The mallard brood was on a small, privately owned wetland which was ringed with emergent vegetation, but the drought had reduced the water surface to a small area in the center of the basin. The ducklings were busily pecking at the water’s surface, probably eating bugs to build up some energy to make the long overland trek to the large marsh on the Erickson WPA. Mallards are very adaptable and will travel over land to find good habitat for their broods, especially in drought years.
Mallards are dependent on a complex of wetlands and grasslands across the landscape to meet their survival needs. The small basins provide early spring feeding habitat, pair habitat and temporary brood habitat. The larger basins, like the one on the Erickson WPA, provide summer brood habitat, especially in drought years. Many species of waterfowl that breed in our area, especially mallards and blue winged teal, need large fields of grass to nest and avoid predators. In addition to grassland on WPAs, programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program provide this crucial nesting cover.
If you have a chance to stop by the Erickson WPA you’ll probably see lots of mallard drakes on the marsh. I counted more than 100 in mid-June. The drakes will only stay with the hen during egg laying and early in incubation, during which time they will defend the territory so the hen can feed uninterrupted. At some point during the 30 days of incubation the drake will start to wander off and join other groups of drakes. They will seek out large marshes where they can molt, a process during which they replace their feathers and become flightless for a short period of time. If you visit Erickson WPA, you may also see other species using the large marsh.
Purchased with federal duck stamp dollars, the Erickson WPA provides 466 acres of wetland and grassland habitat that benefit many species of wildlife, including mallards, meadowlarks, bobolinks and northern harriers. To find the Erickson WPA or for more information on the St. Croix Wetland Management District, check out www.fws.gov/mid west/stcroix.