News Release

July 24, 2023 OKANAGAN AND SIMILKAMEEN REGION, BC – Are you noticing more bats around your house or property? You are not alone! Mid-summer is the time when landowners typically notice more bat activity, may have bats flying into their house, and occasionally find a bat on the ground or roosting in unusual locations.

These surprise visitors are often the young pups. “In July and August, pups are learning to fly, and their early efforts may land them in locations where they are more likely to come in contact with humans“, says Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, Okanagan coordinator with the Got Bats? BC Community Bat Program.

As noticed in the last two years, heat and smoke may also cause bats to use unusual roost sites.

Bats roosting in exposed locations, such as this bat on a screen door, can be left alone and will usually move on at dusk or after a few days. Photo by V.Troyen
Bat pups are learning to fly and sometimes are found in odd spots like at the top of this entryway. Leave bats alone and they usually will move on at dusk or after a few days. Photo by E. Zachary.

If you find a bat, alive or dead, remember to never touch it with your bare hands. Bats in BC are known to carry rabies at a low level; this is why it is important to avoid any contact. If you must move a bat, use a trowel or similar tool, and always wear leather gloves to protect yourself from direct contact. Talk to your children to make sure they understand to never touch, play or try to rescue injured or sick-looking bats. If you suspect a bite or scratch from a bat, immediately wash the area with soap and water for 15 minutes. Also contact your public health or your doctor as soon as possible, or go to the emergency department.

For more information on rabies please refer to the BCCDC website

“Bats are important to our ecology and economy. They are the main consumers of night flying insects. Unfortunately, bats are in trouble, and half of the bat species in BC are listed as ‘at risk’,” says Rodriguez de la Vega. Bats are often found in close association with humans, as some species (such as the Little Brown Myotis) have adapted to live in human structures, and colonies may be found under roofs or siding, or in attics, barns, or other buildings. Female bats gather in maternity colonies to have a single pup in early summer, where they will remain until the pups are ready to fly.

“Having bats is viewed as a benefit by many landowners, who appreciate the insect control. Others may prefer to exclude the bats,” says Rodriguez de la Vega. Under the BC Wildlife Act it is illegal to exterminate or directly harm bats, and exclusion should only be done in the fall and winter after it is determined that the bats are no longer in the building. If you have bats on your property, the BC Community Bat Project can offer advice and support.

You can keep bats out of your living space by keeping doors and windows closed and ensuring window screens do not have any holes. If you find a live bat in a room of your home, open the window and close interior doors until the bat leaves, or follow the steps here: “Cat predation is a very common cause of death of bats in BC, which is bad for bat populations and potentially exposes the cats, and their owners, to rabies,” says Rodriguez de la Vega. Keep cats indoors, particularly overnight when the bats are most active, and ensure all cats are vaccinated for rabies.

This student is pointing at a bat roosting at the top of the doorway at the entrance of her school. Bats should be left alone unless they are roosting low down where children or pets can come into contact with them. These are great opportunities to teach about bat conservation and safety. Never touch a bat. Leave it alone and it will fly off at dusk or after a few days. Photo by P. Rodriguez de la Vega.

For information on safely moving a bat if necessary and to report bat sightings, landowners can visit the Got Bats? BC Community Bat Program’s website (, email [email protected], or call 1-855-9BC-BATS ext.13. The BC Community Bat Program is supported by the BC Conservation Foundation, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, the Habitat Stewardship Program, the Government of BC. In the Okanagan, we partner with the Allan Brooks Nature Centre in Vernon, the RDCO Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan in Kelowna, the Bat Education and Ecological Protection Society in Peachland, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, the Osoyoos Desert Centre and many others.


Paula Rodriguez de la Vega

Okanagan Region Coordinator, BC Community Bat Program

Toll free: 1-855-922-BATS (2287) ext.13

Help us detect white-nose syndrome in B.C.  Please report dead bats and unusual bat activity in winter.  Call our toll free line:  1.855.922.2287, ext.13.  For more information see

BC Annual Bat Count helps monitor endangered wildlife

Program calls for bat roost reports and volunteers

Written By: Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, Okanagan Region Coordinator, BC Community Bat Program,

May 23, 2023

Okanagan – Similkameen regions, BC  

(Osoyoos, Princeton, Grand Forks, Oliver, Penticton, Kelowna, Lake Country, Vernon)

Spring is here, and with warmer nighttime temperatures our BC bats are now returning to summer roost sites.

One of our more familiar species in buildings and bat boxes is the Little Brown Myotis. Like all BC bats, the Little Brown Myotis is an essential part of our ecology, consuming many insect pests each night. Unfortunately, the Little Brown Myotis is endangered in Canada due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal bat disease. The fungus responsible has recently been detected in BC for the first time, sounding the alarm bell for BC’s bats.

White-nose syndrome spread map with BC Pd detection shown with a red star.
Modified from and

A simple way to support bats is to participate in the BC Annual Bat Count this June. The BC Community Bat Program is requesting colony reports and volunteer assistance for this citizen-science initiative that encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites. Volunteers are needed for bat counts at Fintry, Okanagan Lake south, and Sun Oka Provincial Parks, as well as at the RDCO regional parks.  Bat counts are also occurring in Peachland, Kaleden, and Vernon areas.

Bats peeking out of a roost site – J. Saremba, Burke Mountain Naturalists

The BC Annual Bat Count is easy, fun, and safe, not to mention vital for monitoring bat populations. “The counts are a wonderful way for people to get outside, learn about bats, and be involved in collecting important scientific information” says Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, coordinator of the Okanagan Community Bat Program. Volunteers wait outside a known roost site, such as a bat-box, barn, or attic, and count bats as they fly out at twilight. A guano sample can also be sent in to identify the species of bat at the roost site.  Find more information at

The count data helps biologists understand bat distribution and monitor for impacts of the devastating bat disease called white-nose syndrome. White-nose syndrome is an introduced fungal disease, fatal for bats but not for other animals or humans. Results from the Bat Count may help prioritize areas in BC for research into treatment options and recovery actions.

Volunteers gather at dusk to help monitor bats – Okanagan Community Bat Project

Funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, and the Habitat Stewardship Program, with support of the BC Conservation Foundation and the Province of BC, the BC Community Bat Program provides information for people dealing with bat issues on their property or who have questions about how to attract bats. The Okanagan Community Bat Program partners with many organizations such as the Osoyoos Desert Centre, Bat Education and Ecological Protection Society, Regional District of the Central Okanagan, Allan Brooks Nature Centre, BC Parks, and many more.  To volunteer, or find out more about bat counts or white-nose syndrome, to report a dead bat, or to get advice on managing bats in buildings, visit, email [email protected], or call 1-855-9BC-BATS, ext.13 (Okanagan).

Bats emerge from an artificial roost structure – Sunshine Coast Wildlife Project

For more information about this subject, contact Paula Rodriguez de la Vega, toll free at 1-855-922-BATS (2287) ext.13.

Blossoms and Berries — Uses of wild Sunflowers and Saskatoon berries.

Check out Roseanne Van Ee’s recent nature column in the Vernon MorningStar! Learn about different uses of some of our local plants and how to make an Saskatoon Pie!

ABNC presentation — Grasslands Conservation Council of BC.

Education and Grasslands make a perfect match. Education Coordinator, Alexis Olynyk, shares about ABNC programs and focus.

A few weeks ago, ABNCs Education Coordinator, Alexis Olynyk was asked to do a presentation to the Grasslands Conservation Council. Alexis provides a great explanation of the Allan Brooks Centre and the programs offered. You can view the session here

Spring up to help local bats

BC Community Bat Program’s Okanagan Coordinator asking for help with bats.

With bats waking from hibernation and many returning to the area from long migrations, Paula Rodriguez de la Vega provided ABNC with some great information on helping these little eco champions. Here are some things we can do as we head into spring.

Pallid Bat – Gerson Herrera

Bat boxes and contacts

If you want information about bat boxes, please see our website: The Okanagan Community Bat Program sells 4-chamber bat boxes for $150 each, with all proceeds going to bat conservation. 

Alternatively, you can buy them at the Peachland Visitor Centre or at the Vernon Allan Brooks Nature Centre.  Or build your own as per this link:

Our program depends on various grants and donations.  If you feel so inclined to support the Okanagan Community Bat Program, please go to:


Paula Rodriguez de la Vega

Okanagan Region Coordinator, BC Community Bat Program

Toll free: 1-855-922-BATS (2287) ext.13

Help us detect white-nose syndrome in B.C.  Please report dead bats and unusual bat activity in winter.  Call our toll free line:  1.855.922.2287, ext.13.  For more information see

Okanagan Nature Nut: What good are mosquitos?

Ugh!! Mosquitoes! Hordes of them, buzzing in your ear and biting incessantly are a maddening nuisance. Not to mention the devastating health impacts caused by malaria, Zika and West Nile viruses, and other pathogens they can spread.

We typically view mosquitoes as bloodsuckers that do nothing but make our lives miserable. They actually pierce not bite, and fortunately it’s only the females that seek our blood to nourish their eggs. However, mosquitoes do have important ecological functions in our ecosystem that are overlooked. It revolves around their interactions with plants and wildlife. There are about 3,500 mosquito species, and many do not bite humans or any other animal.

Mosquitoes are important pollinators and wildlife food. They pollinate plants while consuming the sugar and nutrients of plant nectar. In high elevations and in the Arctic, plants benefit from the vast hordes of nectar-hungry mosquitoes for pollination during their short growing season.

Mosquito pollination is far more common than we realize. It’s hard to see since mosquitoes usually visit flowers near or after dusk and human presence disturbs mosquitoes from nearby flowers. So, nutrient-cycling by mosquitoes for plant growth and other ecosystem functions remains unstudied.

And mosquitoes are important in the natural food chain. Mosquito larvae consume microorganisms such as algae and microbes that decompose decaying plant material. Baby fish (minnows) and adults gobble up wriggling larvae. Then birds, bats, frogs and other insects eat the remaining flying adult mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that are eaten and excreted then decompose, turning the microbes they consumed into nutrients for plants, completing another important ecological function.

Mosquito larvae survive in freshwater habitats from temporary snow-melt pools to ponds and lakes, wherever water collects such as in bird baths, discarded cans, bottles, tires and even the insides of pitcher plants and between the leaves of rainforest plants.

Indiscriminate mass elimination of mosquitoes would impact everything from pollination to natural food webs. In a world of collapsing ecosystems and declining pollinator populations, we need all of the help we can get. This includes acknowledging the secret lives of mosquitoes and more sophisticated mosquito control strategies that protect their ecosystem functions.

So, we can help by taking personal responsibility to avoid mosquitos by wearing loose clothing, using nontoxic insect repellents and avoiding scented soaps, shampoos, etc. when in mosquito infested areas. Also not overwatering lawns, screening rain barrels and tidying up or disposing of water-collecting garbage and junk around our homes and recreation areas.

Does this make you happier? Are you willing to help the mosquitoes?

Roseanne Van Ee enthusiastically shares her knowledge of the outdoors to help readers experience and enjoy nature. Follow her on Facebook.

Part 2 on the ‘fascinating night guardians’

The Okanagan’s low to mid elevation ecosystems have the greatest variety and population of bats in all of Canada because of its warm climate and diversity of terrain. Our warm summer nights allow young bats to fatten up while insect prey is abundant before hibernation.

Of the 15 B.C. bat species, these 14 species live in the Okanagan (*endangered or threatened):

· big brown bat (rptesicus fuscus)

· hoary bat (lasiurus cinereus)

· silver-haired bat (lasionycteris noctivagans)

· Yuma myotis (myotis yumanensis)

· Californian myotis (myotis californicus)

· little brown myotis (myotis lucifugus)

· long-legged myotis (myotis volans)

· Townsend’s big-eared bat * (corynorhinus townsendii a.k.a. plecotus townsendii)

· western long-eared myotis (myotis evotis)

· fringed myotis * (myotis thysanodes)

· western red bat (lasiurus blossevillii)

· spotted bat * (euderma maculatum)

· western small-footed myotis (myotis ciliolabrum)

· pallid bat * (antrozous pallidus)

Myotis means mouse-eared and these are our smaller, brown fur bats.

Bats are ecologically important for controlling insect populations. Yet despite their importance to our ecosystems, there’s more misinformation than fact, and more fear than respect for these fascinating night guardians. We need to appreciate them.

Here’s some amazing bat facts:

– Even though bats look like flying mice, they are more closely related to humans than they are to rodents.

– Bats are the longest living (20-40 years) and slowest reproducing small mammals on Earth.

– Like humans, young bats loose their baby, or milk, teeth before their adult teeth grow in.

– Bats are very clean animals, and groom themselves almost constantly (when not eating or sleeping).

– Our bats have small eyes but are not blind. Their eyesight is good and they have excellent echolocation so they do not become entangled in human hair.

– A single little brown myotis can eat up to 600 mosquitoes/hour. And a nursing mother can eat more than her body weight nightly (up to 4,500 insects).

– Little brown myotis heart rate reduces to 10 beats/minute (from 100-200 beats/min resting or 1,000 beats/min flying) and can take one breath/hr while hibernating.

– Our bats can squeeze into tiny crevices like behind pieces of bark to roost.

– Bat droppings (guano) in caves support whole ecosystems of unique organisms including bacteria useful in detoxifying wastes, improving detergents, and producing gasohol and antibiotics.

– The pallid bat is immune to the stings of the scorpions and centipedes upon which it feeds.

– Moths sometimes plummet to the ground when they hear the echolocation calls of bats in an attempt to escape.

If you’re curious about bats read Bats of British Columbia by David Nagorsen et al, 2022. This totally updated book is full of interesting information with numerous amazing colour photos throughout of bats close up and in action, and describes each bat species. Our library has it.

If you have bats check out for details on safely removing bats from your house and properly placing bat boxes for them to move into. They’ll keep mosquitoes down in your yard. Bat houses provide places for roosting and raising young, replacing the dwindling natural sites available to them. Installing bat houses can help build valuable bat species populations that eat crop and forest damaging insects.

Watching bats

On hot summer days: roosting under eaves or bridges, in crevices in cliffs, trees, buildings, in umbrellas and shrubs.

At dusk: catching insects above lakes, ponds, large puddles, slow moving creeks and rivers.

Leaving bat boxes and maternity colonies alone.

Major threats to bats

Habitat destruction – especially forests, wetlands and wildlife trees (snags).

Vehicle collisions, domestic cats, pesticides, night sound pollution (road traffic, mining, etc), bat exterminations, wind turbines, solid mine closures, disease (white-nose syndrome), and now climate change.

Roseanne Van Ee enthusiastically shares her knowledge of the outdoors to help readers experience and enjoy nature. Follow her on Facebook.

Okanagan Nature Nut Narrows in on Bats

It’s bat season in B.C. They’ve migrated back to B.C. or left their hibernaculas to forage for insects. Most females have babies now.

There are more than 1,400 known bat species worldwide (most in tropical and subtropical areas) living on every continent (except Antarctica) in every type of habitat from desert to forest. That’s just about a quarter of all mammal species.

The largest fruit-eating bats (also known as flying foxes) of Asia, Africa and Australia are the size of cats with two meter wingspans. The world’s smallest mammal is the rare bumblebee bat of Thailand which weighs about as much as a dime.

Our B.C. bats are all insectivores and some of the smallest bats in the world. Most of these bats would fit in the palm of your hand and weigh about seven loonies. They use echolocation to find and catch flying insects and occasionally glean other invertebrates like spiders, scorpions, millipedes, etc. The little brown myotis is B.C.’s most common and well-studied urban bat.

Bats are the only group of flying mammals and are strictly nocturnal foraging for food at night.

Their order name chiroptera means hand-wing.

Their amazingly strong wings are double-layered thin membranes of durable skin stretched from their arms, hands and elongated fingers down across their legs and to the tail. They can hover, fly fast and remarkably manoeuvre. A clawed thumb, at the top of each wing, helps bats climb up trees, cliffs, walls, etc. Bats’ legs, knees and feet with long clawed toes are backwards for hanging upside-down, grooming, and along with the tail, supports flight and catching flying prey and young when born.

While flying, bats emit multiple quick, high-frequency, ultrasonic echolocation pulses of air to zero onto insects and navigate at night. The airwaves hit the insect and echo back. They speed up their pulses as they close in on their prey. To understand this – hold your hand a few inches from your mouth and say “P.” You can feel the air pulse, but can’t hear the echo.

Bats big ears help hear sounds such as the echoes of their pulses, fluttering of moth wings, movement of insects in air or on vegetation, and other bats. So how do bats catch flying insects when their hands are wings? They swiftly scoop them up with their tail membrane or a wing into their mouth, bite, then chew quickly. Sometimes this causes them to tumble down for a bit.

Like bears, in our temperate climate bats may hibernate for more than seven months if left undisturbed. Their normal 38C body temperature can drop to a few degrees above zero. They arouse a few times during hibernation to stretch and move, but can starve if awakened too many times during the winter causing them to lose insulating fat before spring. Their brown body fat keeps them from freezing and they use it to warm their bodies up in about 30 minutes.

Adult females over one year old mate in the fall and store sperm in their uterus while hibernating, then fly off to maternity colonies with other females in spring. Gestation is 7-10 weeks. Most of our bats give birth in June or July to only a single pup.

Baby bats are born helpless, furless and blind, but are big – about 30 per cent mom’s size, and they grow rapidly. Mom nurses her baby who holds on while she’s roosting. No dads are around. There’s a huge mortality rate among weaned young making bats very vulnerable to extinction. Insecticide use is especially harmful to bats.

You can watch bats in action and help with the provincial count at two local events this week. Allan Brooks Nature Centre hosts a limited bat workshop and count Thursday, 7-10 p.m., sign up at Fintry Provincial Park is also hosting a bat count Saturday, June 11, 8-10:15 p.m., contact [email protected].

Or if you have bats on your property, count them and call 1-855-922-2287 or visit

Participants help count bats as they fly out of their roost for the night to hunt insects. The data collected is used for bat conservation.

Part 2 with amazing bat facts coming soon.

Roseanne Van Ee enthusiastically shares her knowledge of the outdoors to help readers experience and enjoy nature. Follow her on Facebook.

Fewer butterflies colour the Okanagan

They are some of the most delightfully coloured signs of spring. Some people say butterflies are like flying flowers.

These important pollinators live in almost every habitat from wetlands and bogs, to woodlands and forests, grasslands and meadows, and even deserts and mountains. Butterflies flow through four different interesting metamorphic stages from egg, to caterpillar (larvae), to chrysalis (pupae) and finally adult butterfly. Different species have different timelines to these stages. Some species can remain dormant in their pupal or egg stages to survive winters while other butterflies migrate.

Female butterflies lay eggs on specific food plants on which their caterpillar larvae will feed. Some species lay eggs singly, others in batches. Many females produce between one hundred to two hundred eggs.

Then, in their larval caterpillar stage they grow spending practically all of their time searching for and eating plant leaves.

Many species have long caterpillar life stages. Some are especially lovely and interesting. Many caterpillars defend themselves by camouflaging or freezing to resemble sticks or branches.

Some rear up waving their front ends with snake-like eyespots. Other caterpillars resemble bird droppings.

And some caterpillars have hairs and bristles for protection while others form dense aggregations. Caterpillars are most baby birds first foods, so please don’t poison them!Once fully developed, the caterpillar pupates into a chrysalis. When metamorphosis is complete, the pupal skin splits, the adult climbs out, and after its wings have expanded and dried, it flies off as a butterfly. Butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species.

Butterflies suck up flower nectar through their elongated tubular proboscis mouthpart that can be coiled up when not in use and expanded when needed to feed by sucking or sipping. Flower nectar provides sugars for energy. Butterflies don’t carry as much pollen load as bees, but they can carry pollen over greater distances. Many species maintain territories and actively chase other species or individuals that may stray into them. Butterflies also sip water, salty liquids and dissolved minerals from wet sand or dirt which are vital for reproduction. Occasionally butterflies land on people, attracted to the salt in human sweat.

Butterfly wings are covered in minute irreplaceable scales that create the wings’ vibrant colours and markings. These scales can easily rub off. So never pick up a butterfly by its delicate wings. Butterflies can only fly when their body temperature is above 27 °C. When it is cool, they expose their wings to the sunlight to heat themselves up. Basking is common in the cooler summer morning hours. Most early spring and alpine species have dark wings to help gather more heat. If their body temperature reaches 40 °C, they can position themselves with folded wings edgewise to the sun.

When resting, butterflies usually fold up their four wings holding them up above their bodies displaying their cryptic-colour wing undersides to safely camouflage. Butterflies are diurnal with club-tipped antennas with sensory receptors that detect odours and feel wind. (Their subtle coloured moth cousins are nocturnal with feathery antennas.) Taste receptors are located on their feet. Butterflies have good colour vision and most are sensitive to ultraviolet light. Some butterflies can hear and some species make clicking sounds.

There are over 18,000 species worldwide with about 750 different butterflies in North America. The trick to identifying butterflies is to learn the basic different groups by their size, wing shape, colour and markings. The family names often resemble their characteristics; Swallow Tails, Whites, Sulphurs, Coppers, Blues, Crescents, Checkerspots, Anglewings, Hairstreaks, Skippers and more. Get to know some of the common butterflies in your area and how to attract them to your yard. If you’d like to help endangered species, this is a great place to start!

Declining butterfly populations is consistent with the rapidly decreasing insect populations around the world right now. Many butterfly habitats are being destroyed by urban and industrial development. And butterflies, their caterpillars, and food sources are being poisoned with insecticides, herbicides, pesticides, etc.

Their natural predators include ants, spiders, wasps and birds.

Our outstanding local entomologist, Ward Strong says, “The main thing about butterflies I’ve noticed over the last 25 years is the huge decline in both numbers and species. We still commonly see swallowtails, mourning cloaks, and blues, but rarely find checkerspots, coppers, anglewings, fritillaries, etc and more.” How sad! But we can reverse this trend if we want. You can help them by simply establishing habitat in your own backyard!

Attract our native butterflies into your yard by growing the appropriate native plants for their food and shelter. Certain plants have evolved and co-exist with our native butterflies. The Allan Brooks Nature Centre has a handy checklist of North Okanagan butterflies with their habitats and appearance months. They also have Milkweed seeds vital for Monarchs. Join the Butterflies in My Backyard (BIMBY) project at

And we are so fortunate to have a marvellously useful field guide, Butterflies of British Columbia, by award-winning science writer and naturalist John Acorn. It includes very handy quick-at-a-glance references to B.C.’s butterfly groups with spectacular illustrations, dazzling colour photos, distinguishing butterfly features, geographic ranges, behaviour and preferred food plants. Our library has copies to help get you started.

Some of our common local butterflies:

•Mourning Cloaks – often first seen spring butterflies

•Western Spring Azure – our first “blue” to flutter around

•Pine White

•Western Tiger Swallowtail – often mistaken for Monarchs. Swallowtails have yellow and black wings with a “tail” sticking out from each wing.

•Painted Lady – migrate over long distances

•Red Admiral

•Clouded Sulphur – common yellow butterflies – maybe the origin of “butterfly”

•Desert Orange Tip – chrysalis for several years


Roseanne Van Ee

Get Outdoors! And mingle with the microbes

Microbes are amazing! Too small to see with the naked eye, they are nature’s life forms observed through a microscope.

Throughout human history, we never knew that microbes (short for microorganisms) existed until quite recently.

There’s microscopic animals, plants, fungi, viruses, protists, archaea and unfathomable amounts of bacteria species. Their only signs were through fermentation, decomposition, illness or damage.

We tend to call them germs or bugs. But learning about them changes both our view of nature and our sense of how we survive with them.

These minuscule creatures invented life, so as a result they exist with every living thing. They are the natural essence of life in soil, water, plants, animals including us, even in rain and more!

They began and evolved life on Earth and are still evolving.

Everything alive has a microbiome or multiple microbiomes (a biome is a group of organisms living in a similar place such as a tropical rainforest, arctic tundra, Okanagan Valley, etc. and in each of us). All life is connected by microorganisms.

And microbes link the living/biotic organisms and nonliving/abiotic parts of biomes.

How much do you know about the essential, integral and amazing organisms that rule life on Earth? And I don’t mean humans! It’s the innumerable minute things that really count.

We’re a walking community of microbes as are all other animals.

Plants, soil, water and air have microbe communities too. There are exceedingly more microbiotic organisms than all other life species on Earth.

Couples, families and even communities share their microbes from shed skin cells, hair, breath, coughs, sneezes and even farts. This is our aura composed of millions of microscopic particles.

And we are connected to everything by microbial life. They are in and all around us. We hardly perceive the connections, yet we depend on them constantly.

Mitochondria archaea – the remnants of ancient bacteria inside our cells – coverts the oxygen we breathe into energy. We exhale CO2 – the byproduct of burning that oxygen. Plants take in CO2 and through photosynthesis exhale oxygen.

What an amazing cycle of life on Earth! Other microbes inside us break down and deliver nutrients, provide defences against pathogenic microbes, boost our immune system and clean us out.

Seventy per cent of Earth’s surface is water and 15 per cent is barren land. The remaining 10 per cent is soil that sustains plants and land animals.

Soil is alive with microbes. It’s composed of living and dying organisms especially microbes – that’s the smell of soil.

Without microbes, soil is sand, clay, silt or rock. Soil is loaded with microbes! One handful of soil contains 50-100 times more microorganisms than people on Earth. And it’s a complex food web decomposing material from the surface and in ground and feeding each other.

Guess what happens when we use pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.–the nemesis of conventional industrial farming vs. organic farming.

We need to be careful not to disrupt the macrobiotic partnerships.

Panda or Polar Bear extinction may not destroy us, but loss of a foundational microbe in the soil could ruin our lives.

The water cycle moves microscopic bits of pollution through warer, air and soil. But we rely on clean air and water for our health, so we must understand the connections between what we do and how it affects our environment including all the microorganisms we can’t see.

My favourite microbe books are: Microbia by Eugenia Bone and Gut Garden by Katie Brosnan. Our library has both.

Greek lesson: Micro means small, bio means life.

Roseanne enthusiastically shares her knowledge of the outdoors to help readers experience and enjoy nature. Follow her on Facebook.