Tools in the fight against White-Nose Syndrome.

Since 2006 a disease called White-Nose Syndrome, or WNS, has been killing many of bats in North America. The disease is caused by a fungus with a long name: Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd for short. The white fuzz it leaves on a bat’s face is how it got its name. WNS kills bats while they hibernate during the winter—up to 90 percent of some species.

Scientists are working to understand WNS and create treatments to save bats. Each photo below shows a different environment where bats live. Click on the picture to see a 360 view of researchers and student volunteers in the field. Look for circles that hide information.


Many bats live in caves. Effects of WNS can be obvious in caves where once hundreds or thousands of bats lived, but now only a few remain. To see how the survivors are doing and to keep track of the spread of the Pd, each winter scientists and volunteers do “bat counts,” where they try to count every single bat that has survived with WNS in a particular cave.


Old mines and tunnels provide a good place to try out ideas to stop Pd. While bats like to use the abandoned underground spaces to hibernate, very few other animals or insects live there, so they won’t be accidentally harmed by experimental treatments.


In some locations, like this culvert beneath a Texas highway, Pd has not yet arrived. Scientists study healthy bats in such places trying to figure out where the disease will go next and how to protect them if it arrives.

More Info

Learn about White-Nose Syndrome from the WNS Working Group.

Learn about caves and caving from the National Speleological Society.

Organizations that study and protect bats include Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation and Bat Conservation International.

To read a new book about caving and bats, see Hidden Nature. Bat books for kids can be found at Speleobooks or in your local library.


A researcher holds a bat displaying signs of White-Nose Syndrome.

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