I’m sure that this story in the Times whizzed by a lot of people, but I’m scared.
Bats, which normally hibernate in the winter in caves in New York, Vermont, New Jersey, are dying in droves. They are flying out of their caves in winter – odd enough – and then dying right there in front of the caves in the snow. Literally dropping dead.
I know, for most of us bats are terrifying. They are associated with vampires, deadly nights, and scary monsters at Halloween. But I like bats.
They’re cute, really, if you ignore the wings.
Although I know that most people picture something more like this:
It’s a bit like sharks and spiders. Humans have a knee-jerk reaction to things flying in their hair, even if it’s accidental.
Anyway, bats are dying in droves, to the point where scientists are saying that up to 90% of bats will be dead by spring. The bats that do survive might be too skinny to procreate in the spring. Bats have a fairly slow reproductive rate. One female bat only has one pup per spring.
The true downside? They have absolutely no clue what’s killing the bats. A fungus? No, probably just a side effect. A virus or bacteria? Who knows. Pesticides? Maybe they played a role in depressing the bats’ immune systems. Can we catch it? Again, no idea. They are warning people to stay away from bat caves, as people might accidentally help to spread whatever is killing the bats.
This is bad news for us. And the planet.
Bats can eat up to half their weight in bugs every single day. That’s a lot of bugs. And mosquitoes.
I think that if you live on the East Coast, you should probably stock up on bug spray and pray for a really low season of West Nile virus. Because you will be bitten – a lot. And not by bats. By bugs.
Personally, I think this is just another sign that we’ve thrown the balance off. And, unfortunately for bats, they don’t reap the benefits of IVF therapy, or antibiotics, or antivirals, or antifungals. So, we’re probably looking at the demise of countless species of bats, that we will never see in such great numbers again in our lifetimes. Probably because of something we’ve done inadvertently.
And people wonder why I don’t have kids. I’d rather save the bats.