Everyone thinks of agriculture as being farm animals and crops but what people may not realize is that there are other factors that play a role in agriculture, like bats. As I was looking for an article for my Microbes, Plants and the Human Perspective class, I stumbled across this article about a fungus that is killing of many bat populations. The name of this fungus is White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). This fungus is a cold loving fungus, so it survives well in caves. WNS has killed up to 7 million bats already.
White-nose Syndrome is a white fungus that attacks the bats during hibernation. This means WNS awakens the bats during winter; so they become frantic and leave the cave in search of food. You can only imagine what happens next. According to research, WNS originated in Europe and the bats there co-existed with this fungus. It is said that the fungus was carried across via tourism. WNS showed up in winter of 2005-2006 in New York.
Why should we care? Bats are nocturnal, mammals that eat millions of insects. Bats can eat their body weight in insects. They are like our Earth’s own pesticide system. With bats consuming the insects that harm farmers’ crops, it allows farmers to not use as many pesticides. As the populations decline, the more the insects have a chance to infect crops. If this happens, then farmers will have to use more pesticides and other pest management which could cause an increase prices on the goods they produce.
This picture shows how much WNS has spread since its first siting in NY.
Below are the YouTube videos that can help you understand more about the fungus. They all give good insight to the fungus. WNS has begun to spread. How many more states will this fungus take over? What can you do to help it from happening?
Bats in Crisis: Introduction
Bats in Crisis: Origins
Bats in Crisis: Response
Bat White-nose Syndrome: There is a New Fungus Among Us By Dr. David Blehert
Mary Beth Skaja