In the Loop

Are bats (and bees) going the way of the buffalo?

Posted at 12:00 PM on March 25, 2008 by Sanden Totten

(photo courtesy of tcatcarson via creative commons)
As if losing his parents wasn't bad enough, Batman is about to get even lonelier.

The New York Times ran some sad news for lovers of the nocturnal flying mammal. Bats are dying off and no one knows why. Some are dying in their sleep (winter is hibernation time after all). Others are waking up too soon and flying outside in daylight only to collapse in the snow. Scientists are baffled as to what is causing this strange bat-havior, but it seems to be linked to a mysterious white fungus that has been found on the bodies of some bats.

This is scary for several reasons. One: bats are crucial in the fight against mosquitoes, flies and other summertime pests. Two: bats are pollinators . . . especially in desert areas where the few plants that exists are quite important. And three: Bats flying out of caves during the day covered in white fungus is freaky and will scare your children next time you are camping.

This whole episode is reminiscent of last year's bee scare. It doesn't look like the two are directly related, but in both cases some suspect humans are to blame.

Yikes. Looks like we could use a hero to step in and solve this problem. Unfortunately, Batman is silently weeping for the loss of his fuzzy flying friends. Let's hope our scientists can figure this one out before it's too late!

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