Acorns and the squirrels they abandon

Sarah Steimer

Some things you never truly appreciate until they’re gone.

Enter: acorns.

Some regions in the United States are reporting no acorns from the oak trees this year. Folks in the acorn-less areas are saying the local squirrels are acting weird, running about all skin and bones, grabbing up abandoned french fries outside of Wendy’s and Burger King. There’s no one designated part of the country where this is happening, either. There have been reports of total acorn loss in parts of Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and even as far away as Kansas, among others. The worst part about it all is that we can’t even explain to the poor little fellas why all this is happening.

A late frost can kill pollination and the flowers necessary to create acorns, but there was no late frost this year. Certain insects can damage trees, but because the pollen is airborne, the possibility for insects to have much of an effect on oak reproduction is little to none. The only possible explanation botanists have been able to throw onto the table has been ample rain during this past spring, washing out pollen. This theory remains merely that, pure hearsay, leaving the bushy tails with a mystery on their paws.

We already have to deal with a loss in bees, but now will we have to wrap our little noggins around a loss of squirrels as well? Let’s take a look at their food options, first.

n Fast food – This is a terrible idea if you ever want squirrels to reproduce. No one wants to have sex with a chubby little squirrel. Extra weight is rather unbecoming on rodents of both genders.

n Bird seed – What does this leave the birds? Birds will then have to turn back to their scavenging skills, which isn’t the best idea as winter crawls in. Birds will starve and die and people will have an unappealing amount of dead birds in their yards. The only perk to squirrels trying to eat bird food would be a huge boost in sales for companies who make anti-squirrel feeders, not to mention a boost in entertainment for those who purchase these feeders.

n Resorting to roadside begging – There is truly nothing more heartbreaking than a squirrel with a beard shaking a very small cup for change. Mainly because you couldn’t fit any coin into the very small cup. Nor would they have the option of entering any store in order to purchase food with the money. They’d probably buy cheap liquor anyhow.

If these options fail, as they probably would, a world without squirrels would be a very lonely world indeed. For starters, 63 percent of all Kent businesses would have to be renamed. The companies who make the anti-squirrel bird feeders would go out of business. Cats would have nothing to watch out the window, leaving them with nothing to do but sleep. Worst of all, this will create some major crack in the food chain, rippling up to us at some point perhaps.

Now, I’m not sure if the no-acorn mystery was the case in Kent. In fact, I saw a lot of rather healthy-looking squirrels this year. Plus, I’m almost positive that when the city had that absurd wind storm a few months ago, I recall watching a squirrel trying to lug a branch full of leaves and acorns to some hidden bat-squirrel destination. But as you all go home for winter break this year, find out if there was an acorn shortage in your area. If so, invest in some squirrel food (it consists of corn, peanuts and other various seeds and nuts). It’s a double whammy: You get to help a few local squirrels and the economy.

Or would you rather enter contests at 63 percent of Kent’s businesses to rename the store?

Sarah Steimer is a magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].