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Insane squirrel posse

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.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by David Cater on 12/01/2008 - 09:43 am.

    I have noticed that the oaks around our house have had very few acorns this year. Also my neighbor has a walnut tree that had a bumper crop last year, but nothing this year.

  2. Submitted by Skyler Kehren on 12/01/2008 - 10:04 am.

    I live right next to the U and as far as I remember I’ve always seen about as many squirrels in trash cans as in eating natural nuts.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 12/01/2008 - 12:36 pm.

    Both our acorn (burr oak) and walnut (black) crops were light this year. The squirrels are not nuts, however, as my wife IS nuts and feeds the squirrels.

  4. Submitted by Dean Carlson on 12/01/2008 - 12:51 pm.

    I don’t know if this is related but our next door neighbor’s black walnut tree produced no walnuts for the first time in the 13 years I’ve lived there.

  5. Submitted by Rosalie O'Brien on 12/01/2008 - 06:49 pm.

    Our black walnut tree produced so many nuts this year that I had to sweep the driveway several times, resulting in piles of cracked walnut shells. Honestly, I’d prefer that all of you would take back your fair share of squirrel bother, and so would our two dogs.

  6. Submitted by Aaron Klemz on 12/01/2008 - 07:46 pm.

    I dunno – maybe it’s connected to the crash in honey bee populations? I’m not exactly sure how these mast crop trees pollinate.

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