Well, I wish I could write a funny article about bats. But they are in trouble, just like our bees are. I have always loved bats, ever since I heard they eat their weight in mosquitos every night. Commondreams.org published an article today, titled “Bat Disease Threatens Ecological Catastrophe”. The subtitle states that “A virulent and deadly pathogen in America is exterminating a predator that is vital to farmers for controlling insect pests.”
“Bats are one of nature’s greatest pesticides,” says Dr Kunz. “During the 180 days or so that they are out of hibernation, a million little brown bats will eat – and this is a conservative estimate – in the region of 500 tons of insects. If bats die out farmers will have to use so much more pesticides.”
“I’ve worked with bats over 45 years and never have I seen, or even known about, any kind of mortality rate comparable to what we’ve seen,” he says. “The analysis that we’ve done here indicates that bats – in at least the north-eastern US – are going to die out within 20 years.”
This is a terrible catastrophe. The natural predators that keep insects in check are in trouble, along with so many other species. The attachement I feel for bats is special because when I was growing up I was terribly allergic to mosquito bites. One year my family took a camping trip up the Alcan Highway – this was about 1958. We drove from Seattle to many little towns on the Alaskan coast and one town in particular I remember because of the name; Dead Horse.
Anyway, I was horribly bitten up by mosquitos, but the rest of my family was not. I don’t know why they are attracted to one person more than others, but I can prove that is the case. In addition to being bitten more than my brothers and my parents, I broke out all over with additonal bumps and my face swelled up from an allergic reaction. I looked awful and it pretty much spoiled the trip for me.
Nevertheless, when I heard that bats eat prodigious amounts of bugs, including mosquitos, I figured bats were awesome. I still feel that way. I never understood why people are afraid of them. Yes, I know they can get rabies, but that is much rarer than some people think. Some people think every bat has rabies. That’s ridiculous.
Anyway, I’m afraid it is something we are doing that is causing the bats to come down with this “white nose” fungus that seems to be killing them. It is a tragedy. We need to bring our technology to work with nature instead of trying to control nature. We can’t control nature. I’m very afraid that we are going to be taught that lesson very soon.