Nesting in Solar Panels

Squirrels Nest Under Solar Panel

Have you noticed efficiency issues and loss of power with your solar panels? Bird and squirrel nests are common causes of these issues. We’ll highlight how each of their nesting habits causes issues with panels and damage to the home. 

Squirrels Nests in Solar Panels

Squirrels are the most detrimental to solar panels; they chew constantly. They chew wiring which can result in loss of power which is a pricey repair. Additionally, their nesting materials can affect the efficiency of the panels, therefore generating less power. Moreover, once squirrels start nesting they will scratch at shingles. Eventually, if they scratch enough, they will end up in your home! 

Birds Nests in Panels

Birds nest under and around panels which will cause a buildup of dirty nesting debris. Their droppings also deteriorate important components of the panels and affect the efficiency of the panels. Moreover, nesting under panels will attract other animals like squirrels and rodents. Nesting materials can also cause leaks in the roof.

The Solution

We are continuing diligent research on the procedure of installation methods of critter guards to prevent nesting in solar panels.

Solar panel companies often offer it after the damage is done. Ultimately, if critter guards are installed before the issue occurs, it prevents expensive repairs. Although this is a newer issue for homeowners, we are able to trap and remove the squirrels, install critter guards around the panels in addition to sealing any entry points around your home to resolve the issues.

Give us a call or fill out our contact form if you’ve noticed animals nesting in or around your solar panels!

Starlings in PA

Starling Sitting on Roof

What do they do?

Starlings are very destructive birds that do a variety of things to harm our ecosystems and man-made structures. They can monopolize feeders, impact milk production in cows by picking out strong protein from the feed, and they also leave polluted droppings. Moreover, their dense bodies and large, tight flocks disrupt airplane engines causing accidents.  

They often build their nests in homes or businesses. One of the most common places to build a nest is in the dryer or bathroom vents where their nesting debris causes ventilation issues or even a fire hazard. They also displace other birds by taking over their nesting spaces, destroying eggs, and harming the young. The female starlings will return to the same nest each year and add to it.

Starlings find any opportunities to take over nesting areas such as holes in trees and covered industrial nooks. 

Where did they come from? 

Starlings are not native to the United States, they actually came from Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. They were introduced into the US’s ecosystems in 1890 during a celebratory act. It was a large misstep as the starlings populated quickly. 

What do they look like?

They are chunky and blackbird-sized with short tails and long, slender beaks. During flight, their wings are short and pointed which makes them appear as small four-pointed stars which is how they earned their names. They are also known for their gracefully synchronized murmuration dances.

How do we get rid of them?

Due to their invasive nature, starlings are not protected by the Migratory Bird Act. We are permitted to perform nest removal, trapping, and use one-way doors to flush them out of man-made structures. One-way doors ensure the birds have an escape point but are not able to return. 

Starlings also nest behind shutters which creates a mess and their droppings carry parasites. We offer custom solutions for starlings behind shutters including removal, cleanup, and repair with color-matched aluminum to prevent any future issues.

After we remove the birds, we close off all active and potential entry points. For vents, we create custom screening solutions or use vent covers when applicable. 

Starlings are not easily ignored, give us a call or check out our contact page if you believe you have starlings invading your property!

COVID-19 Animal Transmission

fruit bat

We have the same questions you do-can animals spread COVID-19 to humans? Here’s what science has told us so far.

Overview

Because COVID-19 is a newer virus, there is minimal data available. At this time, the transmission is believed to be very low.

To clarify, coronavirus is a family of viruses and has multiple strains, including COVID-19. Some strains of coronavirus can only infect animals.  However, COVID-19 was believed to have mutated into a strain that jumped from a bat to a human.

Current Evidence and Published Studies

According to the CDC, cats and dogs have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. More recently, lions at Barcelona Zoo tested positive for COVID-19. In another instance, snow leopards tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. While it’s evident that the feline species can contract COVID-19, many other species are still in question.

A recent study showed that fruit bats, ferrets, and golden Syrian hamsters can be infected with the virus and spread it to each other in a laboratory setting. However, in the same study, mice, pigs, and poultry did not become infected or spread the infection.

These studies were based upon a small number of animals and do not indicate whether animals can spread the infection to people.

House pets can spread it to other house pets. Moreover, humans can spread it to animals.

CDC Recommendations

However, the CDC recommends isolating your pets as you would another human living in your household. It is proven that house pets can spread it to other house pets. Moreover, humans can spread it to animals. If one pet is sick, the CDC also recommends isolating it from other pets in your home.

As more information becomes available, we continue to research and learn as much about the virus as possible. As we work closely with animals, we take all proper precautions outlined by the CDC and PA Game Commission to keep you, your family, and our team safe.

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!

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