Fewer Bats Means More Pesticides for Dairy Cows

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Fewer Bats Means More Pesticides for Dairy Cows

[Ed. Note: For more about bats and their frightening decline, read As Bats Begin Hibernation, Deaths Expected and Bat Numbers Plummet in White-nose Caves and Bat White Nose Syndrome Spreading Fast Across The US.]

From Robert Cohen, NotMilk.com
June 2011

Insects are a pain in both the butt and the udder to lactating dairy cows. Insects also feast upon crops dairymen grow to feed their cows. Bats eat insects. Dead bats eat no insects.

Without batty bats eating bothersome bugs, dairy farmers will be using greater amounts of pesticides. Who ultimately consumes these pesticides? The foolish mammal sitting atop the food chain.

Elsie at the Bat

Twinkle, twinkle little bat
How I wonder what you're at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky.
- Lewis Carroll

The June 1, 2011 issue of Biology Letters includes an article which reveals that North American bats are in grave danger, and endangered bats can mean trouble for dairy farmers.

Researcher Winifred Frick wrote:

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease responsible for unprecedented mortality in hibernating bats. First observed in a New York cave in 2006, mortality associated with WNS rapidly appeared in hibernacula (mammals who hibernate in caves) across the northeastern United States.

Dr. Winifred Frick is the Jane Goodall of bats. Her work can be found here - http://people.ucsc.edu/~wfrick/wfrick/Welcome.html

What do bats and cows have in common?

Insects are a pain in both the butt and the udder to lactating dairy cows. Insects also feast upon crops dairymen grow to feed their cows. Bats eat insects. Dead bats eat no insects. Dead bats plague dairymen and New York Mets baseball fans.

According to an April, 2011, 2010 study published in SCIENCE (Economic Importance of Bats in Agriculture, Boyles, et al, p41-42), WNS could cause the dairy industry $150 million dollars...per day!

Without batty bats eating bothersome bugs, dairy farmers will be using greater amounts of pesticides. Who ultimately consumes these pesticides? The foolish mammal sitting atop the food chain. Batty humans, that's who, and after Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" warning, and Howard Lyman's "Mad Cow" warning, this current BATter-up might represent strike three for Elsie-The-Cow and her friends.