White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease that affects hibernating bats in eastern North America. It is widely thought to be caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). In February of 2006, a photograph of hibernating bats with strange white fuzz became the first token piece of evidence of a disease that has killed over 5 million bats. Much has been learned about Pd and the disease since its discovery, but even more remains a mystery.
Originally described as Geomyces destructans, this cold-loving fungus causes a skin infection and looks like white fuzz on the nose, ears, and membranes of the wings and tail of infected bats. Pd is found in cold and humid (>90%) environments, growing within a temperature range of 40-68 F making caves and mines ideal environments for this fungus.