Northern Virginia squirrels are in crisis. There are no acorns this year. Even Arlington National Cemetery is without its usual acorn ground cover.
According to the Washington Post, squirrels are going nuts, running out in front of cars, gobbling up bird seed and are very thin. Squirrel roadkill is at an all time high.
A friend of mine reported a squirrel convention at her house because she had some corn husks in her yard for Halloween decoration. I had bought potted sunflowers last summer. Something kept biting their heads off. I finally caught one of the culprits. Yup. A squirrel.
So what is going on? Some speculate that there was simply too much rain this spring. In fact, we got 3 times the usual rate. Since oak is a cross pollinator, perhaps all the pollen got washed away. Other scientists suggest that global warming and climate change might be behind the mysterious lack of acorns.
Basically, no one knows but the zero acorn population this year has not been witnessed before. In other words, the scientists are baffled. Oaks live between 200 and 300 years, depending on specific species, and will probably survive. But expect a lot of dead squirrels this year. They will starve because of lack of food.
If you decide to help feed squirrels, be warned, they will eat through literally anything to get to food and they make a big mess tearing up stuff. They love peanuts (and will fight blue jays for them) and they cannot resist sunflower seeds. Some years they are just too lazy to bother with corn husks but my informants in Westgate tell me that is not the case this year.
Will you feed the squirrels or is it encouraging bad habits? Should nature just rule in this case? How will the deer handle not having acorns? Is it global warming?