Questions for ‘Biowarfare saves bats’


Little brown bat infected with a fungus around its nose. Bats with this white-nose syndrome use up twice as much of their stored body fat for energy as do healthy bats in winter months. This can leave the bats too weak to survive.

Ryan von Linden/New York Department of Environmental Conservation/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)


Before reading:

  1. Think about the last time you were sick. What are three things you did to become healthy again? Why did those things help you to feel better?
  2. Bats are different from most other mammals in several ways — name three of them.

During reading:

  1. What causes white-nose syndrome in bats?
  2. Why do bats infected with white-nose syndrome die?
  3. Why is Sybill Amelon cautious about the results of the recent trial that tested a treatment for white-nose syndrome?
  4. How did bananas inspire her team’s treatment for the bats?
  5. What is a mycologist?
  6. Why were bats placed in coolers last fall?
  7. Why are scientists concerned about using their new therapy in caves?
  8. What are artificial caves, and why might they prove important for some bats?

After reading:

  1. White-nose syndrome has quickly spread among North America’s bats. Will this new treatment help to halt the spread? Explain why you think that it will or will not.
  2. The story notes that it would take a lot of work and money to treat just one hibernaculum of bats. Do you think such efforts would be worth the time and trouble? Explain your answer.


  1. Last fall, scientists treated a group of bats for white-nose syndrome. Half of the bats survived. On May 19, the researchers released some of the treated bats, 150 of them, back into the wild. If they had kept 10 percent of the now-healthy bats in the lab for further study, a total of how many bats had been treated the previous fall?