Today in How Hippies Are Wrecking Everything is news of a coming outbreak-pocalypse caused by illicit bamboo habits. The long and short of a paper out last week1 is that as a result of hippies using non-native Asian bamboo for landscaping in the Pacific Northwest2 we’re all going to die of hantavirus. Hurray!
Apparently there are only a handful of bamboo species native to the U.S., and since America wasn’t sufficiently winning at bamboo, we had to start importing and planting bamboo native to Asia and other remote locales. It doesn’t appear that the non-native bamboos have been designated as full-on invasive species yet, but like many other non-native flora and fauna that have gone rogue, many of these non-native bamboo have snuggled cozily into their new homes in the U.S.
But bamboo won’t be directly responsible for the downfall of humankind; nope, these are the critters who will be the adorable harbingers of our doom:
Deer mice are native to the Pacific Northwest and are also carriers3 of hantavirus – a virus that can cause a friendly, wait no – make that sometimes FATAL, respiratory disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.
So what exactly connects yuppie imported landscaping bamboo with the four Peromyscus maniculatus of the apocalypse?
Thing 1: researchers in the Washington State University study found that deer mice love to munch seeds of one these non-native bamboos that’s particularly proliferative in the Pacific Northwest just much as they love chowing seeds native to their own habitat.4.
Thing 2: some types of non-native bamboo, including the species used in the study, do a thing called “masting” which entails producing “huge amounts of seed over as many as 18 months.”5 Sounds efficient – well played, bamboo!
Thing 3: deer mice have their own efficiencies – like the ability to “reproduce frequently whenever food is abundant.”6 The researchers posit that when non-native bamboo goes bonkers with its “masting” thing out in the forests and landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, in contrast with the more conservative seed cycles of native plants, the deer mice will go buck wild and make much many more deer mice. Sounds great – yay mice! But wait no – when the bamboo masting is done, the deer mouse bacchanalia will come to a halt and suddenly a lot of HANGRY hantavirus-carrying deer mice will be sliding into your DMs, er, houses, like:
The research team isn’t saying that a mass outbreak of hantavirus that could murder us all will result from Americans’ importing of Asian bamboo like yoga, hentai and electronics-selling vending machines, they’re just saying.
[Featured image via Shutterstock]
Or would it be yuppies? There are agri-hippies a-plenty in the Pacific Northwest, but yuppies seem the more likely culprits of fancy landscaping with bamboo expensively imported from some remote location. Then again, hippies seem mighty likely to make clothing out of bamboo or put it in a bong. How about we blame both hippies AND yuppies – why choose? ↩