Butterflies, Bats, and Birds Hit Hard in Late Southern Freeze

When temperatures dropped unexpectedly in late February, millions went days without heat and water. Many had friends and family that could help, while others took to emergency shelters set up by churches and organizations. However, many outdoor creatures like bats had nowhere to go, flitting their wings intensely to try and find their way to warmer temperatures. Noticing worn-out bats scattered around piles of snow, rehabilitation specialists rushed to take them in until the storm passed.

Seeing bats tumble to the ground with exhaustion wasn’t so rare when temperatures dropped. Specialists later found that they burned through all of their energy sources in an attempt to fly as fast as they could. Bats have suffered this year, unable to feast on a plethora of insects due to the weather changes. They were running on empty and trying to fly and fight for their life, some of them dropping into the cold where they would remain. Bats lucky enough to get scooped up by Arlington residents landed in rehabilitation specialists who rushed to get their energy back up.

Migratory Species in Danger

Bats and many other winged species choose the southern state of Texas for its mild winter temperatures. However, over the past decade, winters are getting harsher and disturbing the earth’s natural rhythms. The spike in cold weather and ferocious freeze shook wildlife, with birds, bats, and butterflies turning up dead in front of houses and sidewalks. Texas was not the only state hit, with neighboring Arkansas and Louisiana observing a drop in fish populations with colder water temperatures.

Unlike fish in neighboring states, however, birds, bats, and other wings species that migrate can endure long distances to make it away from the cold. They usually take off early, leaving room to find a place to rest that isn’t too cold for them to withstand. However, when unexpected freezes come along, these winged species cannot stop, or they will freeze. In a place like Texas, it takes hours to get out of state and find warmer temperatures.

Drop in Winged Creatures

Apart from worrying about bats and birds, biologists are worried about the monarch butterfly population. Under normal circumstances, butterflies flourish in the hills between Texas and Mexico come March. However, a freeze so late in the year might have caused a lot of damage. Butterflies are a critical part of the ecosystem and an essential part of the food chain that could disrupt the symbiotic flow if the population drops too low.

Though many winged animals were affected, bats perhaps had it the worst, suffering from a recent fungal breakout called white-nose syndrome. With large numbers affected by the freeze, biologists are rushing to conserve the rest of the population, as bats contribute to farms. They snack on large numbers of insects throughout the day, keeping pesky disease-carrying bugs out of crops. Biologists are working on conservation measures and trying to keep the bat population healthy as weather patterns change.

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