Bat Houses

Bat House

Over the years, we’ve received a fair share of questions about bat houses. The most common ones are “Will adding a bat house draw them out of the house?” or “Can you seal the home and install a bat house to keep them around?”

Most of the time, the houses are ineffective. This can be due to a variety of factors from location to temperature. We’ll highlight why bat houses aren’t a solution for bat exclusion.

What are they supposed to do?

The main theory of a bat house is to keep them from entering your home or structure. It’s thought to provide a small space for bats to comfortably reside with nearby food and water source. Bats then take care of insect pests like mosquitos.

Why bats rarely use bat houses

More than likely, the house is incorrectly constructed. On the other hand, it could be constructed perfectly and placed in an unfavorable location.

Sugarloaf Bat Tower
Front view of Sugarloaf Bat Tower

A perfect example is Sugarloaf Bat Tower in the Florida Keys. A very large bat house was constructed for mosquito control. Over the course of 80 years, not a single bat lived in the tower.

When given the option, bats will most likely choose an attic over a bat house. They want to live in a home or structure that is warm, dry, and safe. This is why exclusion is the most important part of preventing bats from entering your home. Bats can easily squeeze into any space the size of a quarter, and make your attic their new home. Any potential entry points near a bat house will most likely be exploited.

The downsides of active bat houses

Most recommendations for placing a house state that attaching it to your home is more attractive, rather than mounting it onto a post or in a tree. Home-mounted ones are most successful due to the warmth homes produce. However, this is also attracting them to your home and enticing them to search for entry points.

Moreover, bats are common carriers for rabies. If you have children or live in a neighborhood with children, the risk of someone being bitten is higher. In addition, guano (bat droppings) can contain histoplasmosis which is fatal to humans.

While we don’t recommend placing bat houses on your property unless your home is sealed by a professional, The National Wildlife Federation outlines a step-by-step process for constructing one.

Hibernation Habits

squirrel in snow by tree trunk

As we progress into the colder months, it’s important to be aware of animals to look out for. Some animals will be entering hibernation and searching for warmer spots to migrate to. On the other hand, some animals do not hibernate at all.

We’ll go over common animals we see in the winter, their hibernation habits, and signs to watch out for.

Opossums

To start off, opossums do not hibernate due to their low body fat content, but they do search for warm shelter. This includes venturing indoors into your attic, chimney, or crawlspace.

Opossums move around a lot throughout the winter to avoid predators. A male opossum, fitted with a tracking device, visited over 19 different dens in 5 months according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Bats

Bats such as little brown bats and big brown bats can hibernate for more than 6 months waiting for the return of insects. They prefer caves, mines, rock crevices, attics, and chimneys. However, bats do not stay asleep the whole time. A common sign of bats in your attic includes noise or rustling. If an area gets too cold, they’ll move to a warmer area or vice versa.

Moles

While it may appear that moles have disappeared from your property, they have only burrowed further below the frozen surface. Their molehills may not be present, but as the ground thaws in the spring the mounds will reappear.

Raccoons

Similar to the opossum, raccoons do not hibernate but search for warm dens. However, in extreme temperatures, they can sleep up to a month. Although they are usually solitary creatures, some will den in groups during the coldest days of the winter.

Squirrels

During the warmer months, squirrels gather and stash their food for the winter season because they do not enter hibernation sleep. Throughout the day, they are active outside. However, they do stay in their nests during extreme weather conditions. If you hear rustling coming from your attic during the day, squirrels may be nested in your attic.

Groundhogs

Groundhogs are one of the few critters we deal with that do hibernate from the first frost until April. The first frost usually happens between October and November, they then retreat to their burrows. The colder weather triggers a hormone that helps them sleep for the duration of winter.

Removal and Preventative Services

While winter is a less active season for animals, it is the perfect opportunity to have your home inspected and sealed prior to their reappearance in springtime. Chimney capsvent guards, and custom screening protect their most common entry points.

If you believe animals have made their way into your home for the winter, give us a call or use our contact form for removal and remediation!

7 Signs You Should Call an Animal Removal Professional

We’ll highlight some telltale signs that you might need assistance from an experienced wildlife technician

Seeing an animal in your home, or around your porch, garden, or shed.

If there is a bat present in your home, it may indicate a maternal colony living in your attic! Furthermore, it informs us there are entry points, or weak spots, around the exterior of your home allowing the bats to enter. Additionally, squirrels enter through unprotected chimneys or chew through components of the home. Other common animals lurking around your property include raccoons, opossums, mice, and birds.

Noticing damaged elements around your home.

Fascia, wooden components, gutters, and vents are a few examples that are exploited by a variety of animals.

The presence of animal droppings or nesting materials in the home.

Many animal droppings are highly hazardous, and cleanup should be handled by a professional wildlife technician. Moreover, bat droppings (guano), mice droppings, and opossum droppings are just a few common examples we often observe inside homes.

Burrows or tunneling in your yard or garden.

Moles and voles are usually responsible for tunneling and burrowing. In addition, moles will tear up your yard and create a large mess of molehills throughout your yard, destroying grassroots and plant roots along the way.

Pets sprayed by a skunk multiple times.

This usually indicates a skunk or a family of skunks are living on or near your property. For skunk removal, we only use traps approved by the NWCOA.

Trash dug through on multiple occasions

The culprits behind this are usually raccoons or possums, they will eat anything! Opossums also carry EPM which affects the spinal cords of horses.

Chirping or scratching sounds coming from attics or walls.

Bats, squirrels, and mice are just a few animals that cause noises like this in your home. Mice can get into walls and in some cases, trapped. Bats are often cause scratching and chirping noises.

Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania

Spotted Lanternflies on a Tree Trunk

We’re sure you’ve heard about the spotted lanternfly and the damage they cause. While we don’t handle bug issues, we’ll highlight a few facts about them and what you should be doing to protect your trees and plants!

What does the spotted lanternfly look like?

Spotted lanternflies appear different depending on their stages of growth. There are 3 stages of growth for a spotted lanternfly: early nymphs, late nymphs, and adults.

The early nymphs are very small, they are all black with white spots. A late nymph is slightly larger in size and begins to show the vibrant red color on its body.

Adult spotted lanternflies are the only ones that can fly; they are extremely noticeable due to their colorful wings. These adults emerge in July and stick around until winter.

Where did they come from and what do they do?

The spotted lantern fly is an invasive plant hopper from Asia. They negatively impact crops such as grapes, hopes, and hardwoods. They are technically a plant stressor-they do not kill all plants or trees.

Moreover, their eggs are laid in the fall and hatch in the spring. Egg masses are laid on hard surfaces like trees, decks, houses, et cetera.

Signs of spotted lanternflies include oozing sap from trees, wilting, leaf curling, and tree dieback.

What should I do if I see them?

Penn State University states 5 steps for spotted lanternfly control:

  1. Stop the spread
  2. Scrape egg masses
  3. Use tree traps to catch nymphs
  4. Remove host plants
  5. Apply insecticides

Scraping and destroying their egg masses will prevent 30-50 eggs from being hatched per mass. Furthermore, we highly recommend using bands or traps on trees with a screening system in place to prevent squirrels or other animals from being stuck to the strips.

Look out for their host plants and trees! Their preferred tree is the tree of heaven. They also like pine trees, apple trees, grapevines, and other various fruit-producing trees. A full list can be found here.

Registered insecticides are also available. All insecticides used must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. We do not use pesticides or repellant sprays, so a pest control company would be the best to contact for spotted lanternfly control.

Vent Guards and Gutter Guards

Custom Screening

We are finally into the warmer months of the year which are active seasons of most animals in Central Pennsylvania. We offer custom solutions to seal and protect your home.

Some animals search from top to bottom for any weak spots. Once they find one, they will turn it into their new front door!

We’ll highlight the benefits of our gutter cleaning services, custom vent screening, vent guards, and gutter guards. Additionally, we also install chimney caps that protect your home from a variety of issues.

Vent Guards and Custom Screening

Some vents come with built-in screening. However, most of these built-in screens are not strong enough, allowing animals to chew through them.

The vent guards we use cover typical vents such as dryer vents and bathroom vents. For other vents that are custom to each home like dormer and gable vents, we create a custom screening solution that prevents animals from entering your home. We craft a cover out of heavy gauge wire and aluminum for a perfect fit and protection.

Standard Vent Guards
Custom Screening
Custom Screening

Different Animals that Exploit Vents

Birds find vents to be optimal nesting areas due to the protection and warmth. Raccoons, squirrels, and mice are excellent climbers. Moreover, mice use brick, stucco, stone, and other textured exterior elements to scale your home. Bats will often use vents and other small openings to gain access to your attic or living space.

Our custom screening solutions not only seal your home, but match your home’s aesthetics to create a unified, finished look.

Gutter Cleaning and Gutter Guards

Gutter Guards
Gutter Guard Installation

Typically, without any gutter guards, gutters should be cleaned out a few times a year. Gutter guards are not a permanent solution, but they significantly reduce the number of cleanings. With gutter guards, gutters should be cleaned once every 1-2 years. They act as a filter that are installed over your gutters that prevent debris from entering your gutters. Ultimately, this prevents clogging and allows rainwater to be drawn away from the roof.

We offer regular gutter cleaning services as well as gutter guard installations.

Backyard Wildlife Solutions has over 15 years of experience installing chimney caps, gutter guards, and custom vent screening. Please give us a call or use our contact form to find out more about our exclusion methods!

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

Woodpecker-On-Tree

While woodpeckers are beautiful and majestic birds, they cause serious damage to homes. At Backyard Wildlife Solutions, we offer preventative methods to keep woodpeckers from drilling into your home.

What do they look like?

In Pennsylvania, we see seven different species of woodpeckers that range from 6 to 18 inches long. They also have a chiseled-like beak used for drilling into trees and other structures.

Furthermore, most male woodpeckers have red markings on the tops of their heads. A lot of woodpeckers have a mixture of white and brown feathers on their body.

What do they do?

Woodpeckers are most commonly known for drumming and their undulating flight. While woodpeckers drill into trees to find food, “drumming” is a rhythmic pecking where they drill into wood while no insects are present. This process is used to establish territory, nest, and communicate with other members of their species.

Moreover, drumming is performed on wooden components of a home, such as siding, shingles, and trim. They will also go after wooden decks and fences.

Surprisingly, woodpeckers will choose unhealthy trees to drill into. They strip bark from dead or dying trees which prevents pests from spreading to nearby healthy trees. However, if the area has a low amount of unhealthy trees, they have to drill into healthy ones.

What Diseases Do They Carry?

As we have highlighted before, birds make very large messes. They leave nesting debris and their droppings contain many diseases. Histoplasmosis, which is fatal to humans, is found in their droppings. West Nile Virus, E.Coli, and Salmonella is also found in their droppings.

How Do We Deal with Woodpeckers?

Woodpeckers are a protected species. If they are in your home, we can use one-way doors to flush them out when eggs or young aren’t present. Once they have left, we are able to seal the home to prevent reentry. Moreover, we also offer custom solutions to cover wood elements of your home. In some cases, we also use a visual deterrent to discourage them from returning.

If you are hearing a woodpecker drilling on your home or you believe they may be in your home, please call 717-419-0781 or use our contact form. Backyard Wildlife Solutions are your licensed wildlife control technicians for woodpeckers and other animals. We are currently serving all of Central PA: ‎Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, York, and surrounding counties.

Chimney Cap Installation

Chimney Cap on Brick Chimney

You may ask, “What are the benefits of having a chimney cap?” There are multiple benefits of having one installed onto your home. While chimney caps keep animals out of your chimney, they reduce moisture damage, block downdrafts, and prevent sparks from landing onto your roof.

Critter Control

First and foremost, it keeps animals out of your chimney. If you have had experience with a squirrel, bird, or raccoon falling or flying into your home, a chimney cap is a preventative measure our technicians strongly recommend. If you haven’t yet experienced this, the installation would prevent any future animal issues with the chimney.

Moisture Damage

Moreover, it prevents rainwater from entering the chimney and sheds water off the chimney top to prevent mortar damage. Rainwater also damages stainless steel liners, dampers, and mortar joints. Ultimately, built-up moisture from rain creates expensive damage. They also prevent branches, leaves, and other debris from falling into your chimney.

Downdrafts

Has your living room ever filled with smoke while using the fireplace? This is usually caused by a downdraft. Depending which way the wind is blowing, it causes a gust of air that sends the smoke down the chimney and into the fireplace. The design of a chimney cap also blocks wind.

Fire Hazards

Additionally, it stops sparks and embers from landing on the roof. Smoke easily carries these up the chimney; however, a chimney cap is designed to block these. It prevents a fire on your roof.

If these benefits sound appealing, don’t hesitate to give us a call 717-419-0781 or use our contact form! We safely remove any animals and install stainless steel chimney caps with a lifetime warranty. We have access to a full range of standard and custom caps. Backyard Wildlife Solutions has over 15 years of experience in animal removal and installing chimney caps. We currently serve all of Central PA including Lebanon, York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and surrounding counties.

About an Opossum

Opossum on a Fence

A Few Facts About an Opossum

‘Opossum’ not ‘Possum’

Opossums are North America’s only marsupial. When their young are very small, they are carried in the mother’s pouch. Once they are too large for the pouch, they hang onto their mothers back. They are often confused with Australia’s tree climbing marsupial, the possum.

Playing Dead

Opossums are most commonly known for faking their death. It is actually an involuntary response similar to our “fight or flight” response. Because they are slow movers, their bodies become limp and unresponsive when a threat is present. Additionally, they even secrete a foul smelling odor to mislead their predators.

The Good and Bad About Opossums

Opossums will mostly eat anything. This includes ticks, cockroaches, and rats. Even though those meals are beneficial, it also means they raid your trash cans, pet food, and yard. Finding your garbage scattered all over your driveway or lawn is not the most pleasant way to start your day!

Furthermore, they are also excellent climbers. This means they will find a way into your attic, and turn it into their bathroom. This can be a lengthy and expensive cleaning process. Opossums also like to live under your deck, shed, or crawlspace.

While they aren’t known for carrying rabies, they carry a variety of parasites. If you own horses, they can potentially spread EPM which is fatal.

If you believe an opossum is under your deck, shed, or living in your attic, please call 717-419-0781 or use our contact form. Backyard Wildlife Solutions are your licensed wildlife control technicians for opossum removal and other animals. We are currently serving all of Central PA: ‎Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, York, and surrounding counties.

The Rabies Vaccine

Receiving the rabies vaccine is not the most pleasant experience. Len, our owner and operator, has experienced these vaccines.

Rabies is an overwhelming topic, so we’ll start with the basics. Rabies is a disease caused by a virus. Furthermore, it attacks the brain and the central nervous system. We’ll explain how the disease is transmitted, what to do if you’re exposed, symptoms of rabies, and the rabies vaccine.

How is it Transmitted?

Infected saliva must touch a break in the skin. This can occur multiple ways: being bitten by an animal or an animal licking a break in the skin. Additionally, if an animal licks one’s nose, mouth, or eyes it can be transmitted. Extremely common carriers of rabies include groundhogs, skunks, raccoons, bats, dogs, cats, coyotes, and foxes.

Potential Exposure

If you have been bitten, immediately clean the wound with soap and water. If possible, try to observe the animal. Moreover, observation should take place for ten days to see if it exhibits unusual behavior. If the animal does not act strange, you may not need the vaccine. On the other hand, it is always better to be safe.

Additionally, if the animal has been or can be captured, it can be tested. Contact the PA State Game Commission for help when capturing a potentially rabid animal. The Department of Agriculture provides more information about testing.

If no one is familiar with the animal and it can’t be observed, contact your local health department or an infectious disease expert. The disease expert can often be reached at your local hospital. The CDC should also be contacted.

Symptoms of Rabies

After exposure, rabies has a very long incubation period. This period can range anywhere from two weeks to two months. Once the symptoms start, there is no stopping them. Not getting the vaccine isn’t worth the risk. Ultimately, it’s always fatal and non reversible.

Early Signs of Rabies:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore Throat
  • Vomiting
  • Headache

 
More Advanced Signs:

  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty Swallowing

 
Final symptoms of rabies consist of paralysis, coma, and death.

The Rabies Vaccine

If you think that you may be exposed, consult with your doctor. Only hospitals carry the two-part vaccine, so an ER visit is necessary.

The exposure vaccine is completed in 4 doses:

First, one dose is given right away which is paired with the immune globulin. The globulin kick-starts the immune system and provides protection before the vaccine works.

Next, another dose is given at the third day. It is followed by a dose the seventh day. Finally, the last dose is given on the fourteenth day.

Comparatively, a preventative vaccine is another option. It’s extremely beneficial for people who work around animals such as a veterinarian or an animal control expert.

Vaccine Symptoms

Furthermore, there is a wide list of side effects and complications that can occur with the vaccine. As with any shot, soreness, redness, swelling or itching is very common near the injection site. In addition, a lower percentage of recipients experience headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, and dizziness.

Keep an eye out for symptoms that indicate an allergic reaction:

  • High Fever
  • Behavior Changes
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the Face and Throat
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Elevated Heart Rate

Mice Removal from Your Home

mouse_on_ground

While the temperature continues to drop, mice find their way into homes. Searching for warmer areas, they create nests in attics, basements, or low-traffic areas. While traps are sold at common stores, mice removal can be tricky.

The Differences in Mice

There are two types of mice; the house mouse and the field mouse.

The house mouse ranges from two to three inches in length. Their triangular noses are complimented with long whiskers and large, floppy ears. Their tails are hairy but also long and thin.

The most noticeable difference from these two are their fur color. House mice have gray fur while field mice are brown with white bellies. The field mouse has similar features to the house mouse, but is slightly larger in size.

Why are they a nuisance?

Mice make nests anywhere they see fit. Contrary to their name, field mice will also live in homes.

They are nocturnal and very social, it’s not uncommon to see them. On the contrary, they are very territorial.

Common signs of mice in a home include scratching within walls or ceilings and rustling noises in living areas. Their nests include any scraps of material or trash that can be dragged with their tiny bodies. Once in your home, they can create structural damage from chewing. In some instances, they generate fires from chewed wiring.

Moreover, a very bad sign is a foul odor, it can indicate dead mice in your walls. Other signs include urine stains on ceilings and droppings on flat surfaces.

Mice Removal and Clean Up

Setting a few traps should get the job done, right? Well, mice can be difficult. Traps must be placed at appropriate locations in order to be successful. House mice are very smart, often they can eat the bait without setting off the traps. If not placed correctly, they will set off the trap while getting away.

As wildlife professionals, we have over 15 years of experience with mice. With proper trapping methods, we remove the mice quickly and efficiently.

Most diseases you could receive from mice are present in their droppings. Additionally, using improper cleanup methods will cause diseases to go airborne. We offer clean-up services to minimize the risk of spreading any diseases.

Backyard Wildlife Solutions are the professionals you need for mice removal in Hershey, York, Lebanon, Lancaster, and other surrounding areas. If you live in or nearby these locations, please call 717-419-0781 or contact us.