“We may lose them all.”



How many of you heard the scary report on NPR yesterday about the resurgence of a mysterious disease that’s wiping out bats, so much so that a scientist made the statement you see above—and he does mean ALL the bats of the Northeast. It’s been in the news for about two weeks, but this is the first time I’ve really focused on it. If you haven’t heard, 11,000 bats in New York died last year and now it’s spreading throughout New England. The disease is being called “white nose disease,” because of the powdery fungus on the little bat snouts, but little is known about it. Scientists are not even totally sure it might not spread from bat to human.

Paranoia aside, this is very bad news just as far as the bats are concerned; they are a very important part of the ecosystem as predators, prey, and as part of the pollination system. I don’t know that I’d want to get too up close and personal with a bat, but I’d hate to imagine a world without them. (We love watching them fly around the roof on summer nights.)

And this is especially disturbing coming so soon after the bee colony problems.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Not the bats! We love our bats. They eat all the nasty flying things for us!! We love to watch them in the summer evenings, especially when we turn on the pool lights and watch them skim over us, as my son says ” way cool”. Btween the bats , the dragonfliesand our mosquito magnet we get quite an arial show and can sit in our pool area in the evenings!!

  2. This is the first I’ve heard of it. Austin is hugely fond of its urban-bat population, and I can’t imagine how devastating it would be to lose the population. Bats seem essential to the ecosystem, as are bees.

  3. Seriously, it is way cool watching my little friends fly right above the water , appearing as if by magic out of the darkness, to be lit from beneath by the underwater light! One night I may try actually floating in the pool to see how close they’ll come!
    It is very worrying that these benifical mammels are in danger, especially at a time when mosquito born disease is on the rise here in NE ( EEE is very scary!).Is there anything we human’s can do to help?

  4. Yes, I heard that report yesterday, and it made me very sad. What is happening to our beautiful ecosystem?

  5. It would be helpful if any lurking bat-ologist could comment or explain further on this distressing news….any experts out there?

  6. For lots of information about bats and their role in pollination and bug control check out The Bat Conservancy at batcon.org

  7. No, I hadn’t heard about this. It is very sad and scary. We too have bats that glean the garden. I hope the awful disease doesn’t spread here.

  8. Quote from A “Homeowner’s Guide To Northeastern Bats And Bat Problems”, Penn State, College of Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension. http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/uh081.pdf

    “Bats make good neighbors. As the only major predators of night flying insects, bats play an important role in controlling many insect pests. A single bat can consume as many as 500 insects in just one hour, or nearly 3,000 insects every night. A colony of just 100 little brown bats, the most abundant species in the Northeast, may consume more than a quarter of a million mosquitoes and other small insects each night.”

    A little animal – a big problem.

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