Summer evenings used to be filled with the acrobatic flitting of bats chasing their next insect meal. Unfortunately, bats have vacated the night sky over much of eastern North America due to an invasive fungal disease that is decimating populations.
It’s almost Halloween. Pumpkins abound and spooky decorations are showing-up everywhere. As a bat biologist, I enjoy seeing bats hanging from front yard trees and porch lights this time of year. But as you may have heard, all is not well with our bats. Populations in eastern North America are experiencing up to 95 percent declines due to white nose syndrome (WNS). First described in 2006, the disease gets its name from the fuzzy white growth on the noses of infected bats. The fuzz is a fungus that was likely introduced from Europe, possibly by cavers. It is called Pseudogymnoascus destructans, but everyone refers to it as Pd.