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KN, p. 276 “About the bats…”

Last October, the pest control guy arrived for his once-every-three-months inspection/treatment of the outside of the house (a must in our buggy neighborhood). Our goal is to keep the mice and insects outside where they belong, and since we have a crawl space that runs the length of the house, that’s not always easy in wooded areas. The critters like to hide there, safely out of sight of predators like hawks and snakes.   Much to our surprise, he discovered that we had bats in the attic. Yup, I hear you: ‘bats in the belfry?’ LOL   I asked how he knew, since he had not entered the house. Waaay up at the peaked roof line, he had seen what appeared to be bat droppings next to an attic vent. He climbed up the staircase to the attic (which is used only for storage) and found four bats hanging upside down, asleep, next to that vent. EEEEEKKKKK!!!!   I had heard noises in the attic, but thought a lost bird had flown in and out again, an occasional occurrence over the years. Nope. Bats. That explained Hammett’s unusual curiosity and odd woofing at the attic entrance overhead.   The pest control guy called a buddy of his who could remove the unwelcome guests and relocate them elsewhere. Anywhere outside would have been fine, but he had an interested customer lined up. We have plenty of bats in the neighborhood, so we weren’t worried about an exploding mosquito population if these particular bats moved away.   The bat guy (henceforth known as B.G.) would take care of everything on…wait for it…Halloween. Lots of eye-rolling and laughter over the timing.   The day arrived, and we got a ‘can’t come’ call. B.G. couldn’t make it for another few days. So, I posted this on social media: The jokes started pouring in from fans of our critter sagas, as the bats flew past my office window with an enthusiastic display of swooping.   From animal enthusiast, M: “Let’s see, it’s Halloween and there’s a pandemic. There’s a full moon that hasn’t occurred on Halloween since the 1940’s, and it’s on a weekend. The time changes at midnight on Halloween, for an additional hour of 2020…AND you actually have bats, for Halloween. Gee, what could possibly go wrong??”    From former colleague, J C: “100 mosquitoes flying around the attic, 100 flying mosquitoes, slurp one down and fly around, 99 still flying in the attic…”    Well, one thing led to another, and B.G. never made it back to the house. It’s been seven quiet months, with no noise from the attic. We had some electrical work done in April, requiring access at the opposite end of the house, but there were no bat sightings. Nobody whooshing or shrieking overhead while the electrician worked. All was silent.   HA! The pest control guy arrived for the latest quarterly visit and we chatted about the bats (or lack of same). He shot some chemicals toward the house at the ‘bat end’ and one of the invaders flew out. He must have been sleeping while the electrician worked, or else he had been visiting with friends.   Soooo…we made another call to B.G. He was surprised that a bat was still hanging around after all that time, and since I hadn’t heard anything, I was as well. B.G. arrived and went to investigate.   He took a quick look and descended from the attic, a bit wild-eyed. Instead of telling me that he had been freaked out by dead bodies, he kept one hand on the step railing, as if needing the support. “You have a dozen bats up there, hanging from the rafters in the center of the attic.”   “A dozen?” Good grief. I could barely get the words out. “Can you catch them?”   “Yes, but my bag isn’t big enough. I only expected the original four.”   Gulp. I found a couple of old pillowcases and handed them over. The helper, a nice young lady acting as the ‘go-fer’, stayed outside in the front yard, and was charged with counting any that flew out of the vents, so the boss could keep track of how many he still had to catch.   B.G. got to work.   Four flew out, then another six. Then another four. Okay, not twelve, but maybe the extras had been hiding in the rafters. I relaxed and turned to chat with the helper. Alas, too soon. We weren’t done yet. A couple more flew out and when B.G. left the attic this time, he shook his head. He and the helper compared notes. 23 bats. My jaw dropped. Lots of head shaking all around. Those original four were VERY happy up there.   While the liberated bats waited in nearby trees, B.G. sealed off re-entry with screen cloth and promised to return in two weeks to complete cleanup and any additional work needed.   On the appointed day, B.G. discovered another bat in the belfry and collected him. An even two dozen.   We are bat-free at this writing, and quite happy about it. The guano customer (bat poop) is happy as well, along with the new bat owner that needed an elite mosquito attack group.   I saw a squadron of bats swoop past the office window late last night, probably looking for another entrance to their former abode, but at least we know the remaining bat family members are still on guard outside.        
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