Wednesday, February 10, 2010


(Picture published by Northeast Cave Conservancy.)
Most of us agree that bats are not pretty. We also agree that they are extremely useful devouring mosquitoes and other pests at a rate of up to 3,000 per night. What will happen to the mosquito population without bats?

According to an article in our local newspaper (The Morning Call), White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is continuing to spread in the northeast US. It has spread “500 miles in two years with a 96 percent mortality rate.”

First spotted in 2006 near Albany New York it has spread through neighboring states and into Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. “Reported in PA Late last month, Pennsylvania Game Commission officials discovered white-nose syndrome in caves in Carbon and Monroe counties. Before that, they found it in Durham Township, in upper Bucks County, and it's likely in Schuylkill County, too.”

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is caused by fungus Geomyces destructans which grows in cold temperatures when bats immune system is thought to be lowered. For some reason, bats wake from hibernation early using energy reserves before a food source is available - literally starving to death. Researchers continue to work on a solution.

If you see bats flying in the daytime or before the middle of April, report to your State Game Commission or wildlife service. A form to report sick bats from Pennsylvania Game Commission is here.

Bats help control mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Canine Heartworm and crop insects. I don’t find them attractive but I really don’t want to be without them.

(Another WNS post February 27, 2008.)



Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Poor bats! I wanted to have them in my garden and was thinking about getting a bat house. My boys are not ready for new friends, although.

Marie said...

Poor bats and poor us.

From what I understand, researchers aren't making a lot of progress toward stemming this fungus. Many people are wondering if we will have to spray more or if spraying is one of the causes. Not many answers so far.

donna said...

I've followed this news of WNS for the last couple of years. Glad to see this photo because I didn't realize that there was literally a white fungus that could be seen. Interesting post.


Marie said...

Thanks Donna,
It seems like this is a tough problem as is bee colony colapse. The cause of both is still a big question. I hope researchers come up with something soon.