This article originally appeared in The Good Neighborhood.
Believe it or not, bats and humans have a lot in common. We are both warm-blooded, covered in hair, and nurse our young with milk. But more importantly, we often share the same neighborhood…which is a win-win for us both. As the primary predator of night-flying insects, bats are a key thread of our local food web. Just one bat can consume over 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in an hour.
Unfortunately, bat populations of the northeast are in severe decline due to a spreading and fatal fungal infection called White-nose Syndrome (WNS). This disease causes bats to prematurely emerge during winter hibernation and either starve or freeze to death. Ninety percent of our Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) population, New York State’s most common bat species, has perished within the past six years. How will this threat affect our shared neighborhood and the future of these mysterious, misunderstood, but eminently important animals?