What is the difference between a vole and a mole? One letter

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 12, 2017

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at SnoEowl@aol.com.

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. I’ve been talking to myself a lot.”

“I think that is healthy,” I say. “I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“Oh, I’m not worried. I do it only when I need an expert opinion.”

Naturally

The morning chorus is quieter than earlier in the year. It’s less manic, but the aubade remains. An aubade is a song or poem greeting the dawn. Birds sing in the day.

A friend named Steve Blanich of Crosby died recently. His wife, Jo, shared her favorite poem with me.

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;         

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;        

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.”

It’s by Emily Dickinson and is one of my favorites.

The Henderson Hummingbird Hurrah

I will be in beautiful Henderson, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m on Aug. 19. The event will be free fun for the entire family. Birds, bees, butterflies and blooms! Hummingbird banding, speakers, educational booths, children’s activities, information on chimney swifts, garden tours and master gardeners — see you there.

Q&A

“How good is an eagle’s eyesight?” An eagle’s eye is almost as large as a human eye, with sharpness four to six times that of a person with perfect vision. I read a paper once that believed an eagle had a visual acuity of 20/5 or 20/4.

“How long a life cycle does a mosquito have?” Mosquitoes undergo complete a metamorphosis, going through four distinct stages of development — egg, pupa, larva and adult. The full life cycle of a mosquito takes about a month. After drinking blood, females lay a raft of 40 to 400 tiny white eggs in standing or slow-moving water.

Within a week, the eggs hatch into larvae, called wrigglers, that breathe air through tubes poking above the water’s surface. The larvae eat vegetative detritus. Larvae molt four times and become pupae. Pupae, called tumblers because of the way they somersault through the water, also live near the water’s surface, breathing through two antennae-like structures called siphons on their backs. Pupae don’t eat. An adult emerges from a pupa when the skin splits after a few days. The adult lives for only a few weeks.

“Why do bees insist on coming to my picnics and trying to eat meat and pop?” Your tormentors are likely wasps. Bees feed on nectar and pollen. Bees don’t eat meat and aren’t attracted to your picnics. They generally aren’t attracted to soft drinks. Wasps are carnivores and are attracted to meat, fruit and sweet soft drinks at your picnic.

“Is it common for deer to have twin fawns?” Yes, it is. In her first pregnancy, a doe will usually have only a single fawn, but after that she may give birth to twins or triplets. Embryo studies of white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania provided these statistics. In two-year-old does: 34 percent carried a single embryo, 64 percent carried twins and 3 percent carried triplets. In does over three years old: 22 percent carried a single embryo, 73 percent carried twins and 5 percent carried triplets. A doe’s health and the availability of good forage are factors.

“What is the difference between a vole and a mole?” One letter. Moles are typically underground and voles are above ground. Moles are primarily insectivores and voles are herbivores.

“What do coyotes eat?” What don’t they eat? Coyotes aren’t picky eaters. They are omnivores that generally feed at night. They eat rodents, rabbits, fish, frogs, snakes, insects, fruit, grass, birds, garbage, pet food, garden vegetables, pets, livestock, carrion and deer (primarily road-killed).

“Is it OK to put walnut leaves into a compost pile?” I don’t. Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, first cited allelopathy in about 77 A.D. He noted the toxic effects of black walnut on neighboring plants in the landscape. Allelopathy involves a plant’s secretion of biochemicals that inhibit germination or growth of surrounding vegetation. Allelopathy enhances tree survival and reproduction. Walnuts are masters at defending their turf, thanks to a chemical called juglone that’s in all parts of the tree — including the nuts, bark and leaves. Some claim that hot composting eventually breaks down the juglone. I would err on the side of caution and not count on that. Juglone is particularly effective in stunting nightshade plants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

Thanks for stopping by

“Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Forgiveness isn’t about absolving the other person of their moral responsibility, it is about letting go of the chokehold you have on your own throat.” — Georgia Feiste

Do good.