Sunday, November 30, 2008

First the bats, now, acorns?

The bat problem is old news. Mosquitoes in New England rejoiced this summer, and feasted well into November in this area. But I was wondering why weren't seeing as many acorns this year as in years past. Oak trees abound on my neighborhood's walking trails, and my children had noticed that there weren't a lot of "haycorns" to throw at each other or to bring home for the nature table.

Evidently in some parts of the U.S. there are no acorns to be found, at all:

The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn't find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. Then he went out to look for himself. He came up with nothing. Nothing crunched underfoot. Nothing hit him on the head.

Then calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill.

Read the rest of the article here, at the Washington Post online. Photo by Richard A. Lipski, of that same publication.

Some botanists believe the incredibly wet spring experienced by the Mid-Atlantic region and New England could be to blame--all that rain may have washed away enough oak pollen to have impacted acorn production. But no conclusions have been reached, and further study will be done to ascertain both the cause and effects of the dearth of acorns.


LB said...

That looks like one of those adorable little flying squirrels. You KNOW how I feel about those little beauties - everything is cute until it takes up residence in your walls! Then it's fair game.

Fiddler said...

Yep, I believe it is indeed one of the little critters you love to hate. I don't think I've ever seen one live and in person, so I still think they are pretty darn cute.