The most engaging thing I read over the holidays had nothing to do with the recount, Mumbai or Black Friday. It was this Washington Post piece asking, “Where have the acorns gone?”
Seems in the D.C. area, oaks have produced literally no acorns. None anywhere. As reporter Brigid Schulte wrote:
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.
Like “Shaun of the Dead,” only with tree rodents.
The story is memorable because I live in a house besieged by squirrels who are crazy no matter what. A few years ago, we trapped one in the basement, where I learned Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil has nothing on a caged squirrel. Another year, one chewed through the rubber tube from my gas grill’s propane tank.
The story also made me realize I hadn’t noticed many acorns here this year.
Schulte notes individual trees have acorn-producing cycles, which doesn’t explain the region-wide acorn crash. A big rain is a possibe theory that isn’t completely satisfying. There have been similar exterminations reported from New York and Kansas. At least one report suggests it was a problem here, too.
But was it? I’m hoping better local naturalists than myself can confirm/reject in the comments section. Did we have an “acorn out” here this year, and if so, does anyone have a theory?
I’m always up for an insane squirrel story, too.