Bats are awesome. How could you not love something that uses echolocation, lives in caves, and is the only truly flying mammal?
They also are really important to humanity. Bats fill a unique and important niche in our ecosystem, “one bat eats about 2,000 to 6,000 insects each night” according to BatConservation.org. And Bat Conservation International says, “A single little brown bat can eat more than 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in just one hour.”
So while they are good at keeping our ankles bite free, they also help our economy. According to The Nature Conservancy, “A recent study estimated the value of bats to Tennessee agriculture at over $313 million annually”, certainly not chump change. Not to mention how mosquitos are carriers of diseases.
And while these little guys are great eaters and pretty cool to watch, they also are under threat. An epidemic called White-nose syndrome, is killing off massive numbers of America’s bats.
The disease has killed more then 5.7 millions bats since 2006, and is known to cause 100% mortality rates in some colonies.
“Named for a cold-loving white fungus typically found on the faces and wings of infected bats, White-nose Syndrome causes bats to awaken more often during hibernation and use up the stored fat reserves that are needed to get them through the winter. Infected bats often emerge too soon from hibernation and are [can be] seen flying around in midwinter. These bats usually freeze or starve to death.” –Bat Conservation International
This is bad news for farmers and ankles alike, so how do we help them?
Behold, the Bat Cave!
Photo courtesy of PopSci.com, photo by Paul Kingsbury of The Nature Conservancy
While it seems more bunker then bat fungus cure, this man-made bat cave is just the start of the battle against white-nose. The picture above shows the human entrance to the winter hibernation cave, so once the bats leave in the spring, people will clean and disinfect to prevent the spread of white-nose.
Image: Shanghai Expo
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