Tag Archives: geode

Bats! They’re not just for Halloween.

Geode Roosting Bat Pendant

I’ve been hoarding this bead for years waiting to find a geode slice the right size to try to make a roosting bat pendant. That’s what started the whole ‘wait, there are people that don’t know about WNS’ discussion.

 

WNS is a fungus that grows on the muzzles and wings of hibernating bats. It was first found in New York state in early 2007 and has already spread throughout the Northeastern US, north into Canada, south into Alabama and as far west as Missouri. (It was just confirmed in Arkansas this past week.)

A cluster of little brown bats exhibiting the symptoms of white-nose sydrome. Photo Credit: New York Department of Environmental Conservation

 

 

Two years ago scientists identified the fungus, recently renamed Pseudogymnoascus destructans, but identifying it hasn’t helped in finding a treatment. (Apparently it can respond to topical antifungal treatments but they aren’t sure what to do with that information.) Thus far the mortality rate for some species is up to 95% (Word geek aside-this is not decimation-this is devastation.)

little brown batThey’re trying to track the spread of the fungus, collect information about the numbers of bats infected and trace the movements of cavers that have visited infected caves.

 

Scientists think that the fungus is spread through direct contact. It’s been found in healthy bats in Europe so they suspect it might have been brought to the United States by people who brought spores back in their clothing or caving equipment.

 

The fungus grows only in low temperature climates. It can’t cope with temperatures above 20 C. It causes the bats to wake up too often when they should be hibernating. They end up starving to death because they’re up and flying and using energy in a season with nothing to hunt.

 

It’s been a huge threat to the bat populations. The little brown bats that I loved to watch in the backyard as a child might be extinct in the Northeast within two decades. (I don’t know how to get across just how much that chills me.)

 

Scientists expect if to spread to the rest of the United States and probably Canada as well, driving some of the species to extinction.

 

Nine species of hibernating bats are confirmed as being affected. Some are already on the US Endangered Species List.

The Indiana bat has been listed as endangered since the 1960s and WNS is another emerging threat.

 

 

Why should we care? Besides the whole losing a species is a loss to every other species and biodiversity is important…

Indiana bat

 

 

On an immediate and personal level-the Forest Service has estimated that with the decreased bat population at least 2.4 million pounds of insects will go uneaten a year. 2.4 MILLION, and it’s not like they weigh much. That sort of increase can mean more damage to crops, a burden especially to smaller farmers already battling atypical weather.

 

In Science they estimate the reduced bat populations could cost North American agriculture $3.7 billion a year in lost benefits of insect control and crop pollination.

 

If you’re as tasty to mosquitoes as I apparently am, that’s also a lot more itchy bites. (Plus the whole insects as vectors of disease problem…)

 

More info:

 

US Geological Service Wildlife Health Center

 

Bat Conservation International

 

The National Speleological Society with links to articles about the disease, policies and strategies for cavers.

 

BBC

 

Center for Biological Diversity Map 

 

An entertaining blog article about trying to photograph a bat: An Argument for Double Bagging

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Filed under Crafts, Natural Science

Xanadu

ImageI was trying to find a new way to wire wrap geodes as inspired by the other wire wrappers I watch and to get over my issues with square wire. I have trouble controlling square wire and keeping it flat so I prefer to twist it and use it to accent round wire. Other wire workers find square much more user-friendly than round because it’s less likely to slip off.

I was working with a black and white geode with crystals around the inside that reminded me of ice rime. In short order I had Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan stuck in my head with its like about ‘caves of ice’ stuck in my head.

 The shadow of the dome of pleasure

Floated midway on the waves;

 

Where was heard the mingled measure

 

From the fountain and the caves.

 

It was a miracle of rare device,

 

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was essentially cofounder (with his longtime friend William Wordsworth) of the English Romantic movement. He treated his chronic pain with laudanum which left him with an opium addiction. (It probably exacerbated said ill-health too.)

Kubla Khan is an unfinished poem, he calls it a ‘fragment.’ It was inspired by an opium dream. The story goes that he fell asleep after reading about Kublai Khan and his summer capital of Xanadu. He dreamt of Xanadu for hours, then woke and tried to write down the verses of his dream. He only got a few set down before he was interrupted by a visitor and was never able to regain the lines.

The visitor was simply referred to as a “person from Porlock” and it’s still unknown whether there’s any truth to the story. Many poets and researchers have tried to identify this person while others say it’s unlikely that there ever was such a visitor. I myself am inclined towards the theory that it was a literary device to excuse the fragmentary nature of a poem that he felt complete despite that, or perhaps to create the feel in the reader of a disrupted dream.

It’s one of those analyze till the cows come home type of poems, but I just like it for the sheer beauty of the sounds and the imagery.

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Filed under Crafts, Poetry