Thanks to an Eagle Scout project, bats now have a new place to hang out at the Guernsey Path and Sanctuary in Wellesley near Winding River Rd. Though you probably won’t find any of the critters around now if you’re looking for a little Halloween fix.
The 3-chamber bat house, which was completed on Aug. 30, was built by Peter Krieg, who is working toward becoming an Eagle Scout with Troop 185 in Wellesley. Krieg (shown above) started planning the project in March 2009.
The bat box is made of pine plywood and came from batmanagement.com, which mass-produces bat boxes. Krieg covered the bat box with 3 coats of black paint to absorb sunlight and he stapled on screening. The box is mounted on a 16-foot-long wooden pole that’s buried 3 feet into the ground and sealed with concrete.
Krieg says he has not detected any bats in the box (you might notice bat droppings beneath the box if bats are visiting), but notes that it’s “impossible/extremely unlikely for bats to inhabit the box within the first few months of installation.” He says the brown bats likely to inhabit the box would already have started migrating north, such as to abandoned mines in New York. “Bats are very, very picky on their home so there is no guarantee that they will live in the house.”
Krieg’s hopeful bats will inhabit the box as soon as next Spring. The best time to see whether this is happening would be at sunset as bats fly around to nab mosquitoes (each bat can gobble up to 2,000 of the pests a night, according to Krieg). Though he warns to never get too close to the box or shake the pole since bats are sensitive and might abandon the box for good if it is rattled. Krieg positioned the bat box a bit off the main trail to try to protect it.
Wellesley’s resident bat expert, Thomas Kunz, a Boston University biology professor whose name is on the Kunz Bat Lab at BU, says “the most common bats in Wellesley that could reside in this and other bat houses are known as big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus). This species commonly roosts in the attics of houses in Wellesley and elsewhere.”
Kunz says “the goal of building bat houses is to provide summer roosting quarters for bats that are declining due to a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.”