Freedom – July 12, 2009 – From around the region this week there was bad news about bats, bugs and weather.
From N.H. Fish and Game came word that a colony of little brown bats in Peterborough that researchers have been studying for years has been wiped out by White Nose Syndrome, a disease discovered in New York three years ago that has spread to nine states.
State officials say the Peterborough colony, which has existed for more than 40 years, has averaged around 2,000 bats for the past 15 years. Now there are fewer than 100, which specialists say greatly diminishes the odds that the colony can survive.
“The little brown bat is the bat we often see cruising over a pond eating insects,” according to N.H. Fish and Game wildlife biologist Emily Brunkhurst.
“Bats eat thousands of pounds of agricultural pests and nuisance species like mosquitoes every summer. It is very alarming to think how this huge drop in the bat population will ripple through the ecosystem and possibly affect our food production and timber industries.”
The decline in bats comes as a UNH entomologist predicts a bumper crop of mosquitoes and a return of black flies and ticks in the coming weeks, a result of the cool wet weather that just won’t quit.
“I’m afraid the conditions look right,” Professor Allan Eaton said in a lengthy article by Lloyd Jones in this weekend’s edition of the Conway Daily Sun.
On the hopeful side, Eaton said an increase isn’t inevitable, recalling previous wet summers that did not result in a proliferation of bugs. But that, of course, was when we had a lot of bats.
As for the weather, the website northconwayweather.com offers some perspective. June was wet and cool but seemed worse than it actually was.
We had 6.99 inches of rain – a hefty amount that’s 3 inches more than average, but only slightly above what we had in 2008 and 2006. So, was it the temperature? At an average of 60.4 for the month, it was the lowest since 1982.
Probably it was a combination of both.
While hope springs eternal, the prediction for the coming week isn’t promising. Partly cloudy skies with highs in the low 70s and nighttime lows in the upper 40s to low 50s.
The lake level continues to recede, but summer waits the wings.