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You’re taking a shower in your townhouse in Alexandria, Virginia. It is a few years ago, but the memory remains vivid.

With your freshly clean wet hair wrapped in a towel, you open the bathroom door and behold a dark brown bat with eight-inch wingspan heading your way.

“Aawk!” You yelp and slam the bathroom door. That’s a bat, you tell yourself. That’s a BIG bat.

Slowly opening the bathroom door again, you peer into the bedroom and see the bat dancing with the rotating ceiling fan above the bed you share with your husband. The bat catches the hot air thermals wafting from the shower and heads your way again. He wants to dance with you.

“Aawk!” SLAM. Now what do you do? You have not a stitch on your body and few thoughts in your head beyond help – you need help, now. Yes, you have a towel but want it as protection more than as a tool. Sissy. Who’s batty?

Opening the door quickly, you call to your husband, “Keith!” and slam the door as the bat picks up the air currents and flies towards the shower door.

“Keith!” SLAM. “Keith!” SLAM – you open the door, yell, see the bat and shut the door, over and over and over until Keith walks into your bedroom and takes in the scene.

Quickly assessing the situation – he’s an intelligence analyst after all – your husband grabs the spare blanket from the foot of your bed. They’ve danced this dance before, you think as the bat flies into the blanket. Keith takes the bundled blanket to the outside deck and releases the bat.

“Poor thing must have been scared with me bellowing like that,” you say. “And hungry, too – not too many insects around here. How in the world did that bat get inside the house?” you ask.

Keith checks the double-hung sash windows in the bedroom. “Here’s the problem,” he says – an upper window and screen pulled down, revealing an opening, a bat’s focal point. Many of the neighborhood townhouses have bats in their attics. Bats climb into voids under gutters and roofs, any gap an opportunity to take up residence.

Here at the mountain house, a post-and-beam structure, there is no attic and few places for bat habitation. But you and your husband want to attract more bats to feed on mosquitoes and no-see-ums, the former more numerous due to this summer’s rains. You plan to install bat houses in trees surrounding the house so bats will come dance with Keith and you – outside, on the deck, at dusk and you fully clothed.

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