Last week’s puzzler was about BATS. Here is the answer:
Bats are in serious trouble because of a disease called white nose syndrome (WNS.)
Since its discovery in a cave in upstate New York during the winter of 2006/2007, it has killed more than 5.7 MILLION bats!
The disease is caused by a non-native, cold-loving fungus that is found in caves of hibernating bats. Where present, this disease sometimes kills more than 90% of bat species. Affected bats die from starvation, waking up more frequently than is normal and using up their valuable fat reserves. They then uncharacteristically venture outside of the cave during the winter, looking for insects, which of course are not present. Tragically, they are being found in huge numbers, their small, lifeless bodies, dead on the snow.
The fungus, called Geomyces destructans is spread by spores. Bats affected with WNS can spread the spores to other bats when they scratch infected body parts and release the spores. WNS grows on the noses, tails and sometimes the wings of infected bats. It can survive in the caves used by bats for a long time, even affecting populations that arrive at the caves in subsequent years.
Many people may not have heard about this or if they have, may wonder why it matters. Perhaps they are unaware of the amazing service bats provide to us–FREE, every night during the spring, summer and fall. Bats eat insects. Lot and lots of insects, including some of our most common crop pests and mosquitoes. We need bats to keep insect populations in check.
A little brown bat, smaller than the palm of an average sized hand, can eat up to 1000 mosquito sized insects in one hour. This adds up to a lot of insects in a night.