Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Bats Are Dying, Farmers Should Be Concerned

Fruit lovers should be very concerned by the increasing number of bats dying from white nose syndrome.

Bat In A Tree

Photo: mezzoblue (flickr)

Bat communities exposed to white nose syndrome often face a 90-percent mortality rate.

The U.S. food supply has a new enemy and in record numbers, it’s killing off an agricultural superhero: bats.

Why Are The Bats Dying?

The U.S. bat population is threatened by white nose syndrome, a mysterious disease marked by a white fungus growing on the bat’s muzzle that rapidly diminishes fat reserves in the animal’s body. It is unclear what causes it or how it gets transmitted, but white nose syndrome has spread quickly since being discovered in New York in 2006. Reuters says more than one million bats have died since then.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service’s map, Monroe County’s bat population is suspected to be in contact with the contagious fungus. This is especially worrisome since southern Indiana is home to an endangered bat species, the Indiana Bat. Communities exposed to the fungus often face a 90-percent mortality rate.

Why Is Our Food In Danger?

Bats, like the similarly threatened honeybees, are pollinators. They help us get mangoes, figs, papayas, and other fruits.

But they play an even greater role as natural pesticides. They love to snack on insects that eat crops. Bats save the agricultural industry close to $22.9 million each year.

Read More:

  • Why an Epidemic of Dead Bats Could Make Your Groceries More Expensive (Fast Company)
  • Saving bats could prevent huge U.S. farming losses (Reuters)
Carrie Schedler

Carrie Schedler is a senior at Indiana University studying journalism, English and French. She's originally from Columbus, Ohio, and still dreams often about salty caramel ice cream from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and baguettes from her semester abroad in Paris. Hopefully, she'll learn how to cook eventually.

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  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    This is certainly an issue. Any ideas as to the cause or what can be done?

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