Beating a bad rap: Bats make good neighbors

Hunted, bad-mouthed and chased off like flies, bats have long endured a reputation as nature's fiends, synonymous with vampires, haunted houses and rabies.

But the world's only flying mammals are enjoying newfound affection across North Carolina and nationwide, sought out as mosquito-gobbling helpers who can roost in backyard houses alongside songbirds.

With the click of a mouse, more than 100 vendors selling bat houses appear online, some of them reporting sales that have quintupled over the last five years. You can buy them in 12 different styles, including a cottage, bungalow and Victorian.

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