So, last year it was bees who were undergoing catastrophic population collapse. Now comes a story about a massive bat die-off underway in the Northeast, particularly New York and Vermont, and spreading rapidly.
This is particularly disturbing, given that they've still not figured out why a large percentage of America's honeybees died last year, other than to give the phenomenon a name ("Colony Collapse Discover", or CCD).* And, while many people are inexplicably afraid of bats (mainly because of the rabies myth), we need them, both as pollinators and as devourers of vast quantities of bugs. The fewer bats, the more mosquitoes--which is bad in these days of West Nile Virus and depleted bee populations.
I'm old enough to remember all the honeybees and butterflies we had in our clover-covered backyard every summer when we lived in Monticello, before pesticides brought their numbers down to the small remnant we see today. We avoided the total disappearance Rachel Carson had warned us about by banning DDT just in time, but though stabilized (until recently) neither has ever recovered. Nowdays I see far more bumblebees than honeybees, a complete reversal of the way things used to be. I'd hate to see the same thing happen to bats, and for the last of the honeybees to go the way of the Chestnut and the Elm.
Time to put out a bat house, I think. They need all the help they can get . . .
*personally, I suspect the extreme stress commercial honeybee colonies are under these days, and the profoundly unnatural way of life they experience by being fed on corn syrup and constantly trucked crosscountry from crop to crop, as the key underlying factor.
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