Five-lined Skink

Everyone was out catching the sun rays this week, including one of our most common lizards, the Five-lined Skink.

Five-lined skink

But we have to ask, how ofter do our human readers see these reptiles? Not as often as  snakes, we hazard a guess. Even we squirrels don’t see them too often, but that might be because we spend so much time above ground scampering from tree limb, to deck railing to fence. It’s far safer! Though they can climb, skinks spend most of their time close to the ground, filling themselves on insects–beetles, crickets and grasshoppers–plus other ground critters like snails,  slugs, earthworms and spiders.

Bet a lot of you homeowners just decided a skink might be a bit of wildlife you’d like to have around protecting your garden!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Despite the rain, our temperatures are still above freezing so we have many hardly bugs out and about.

Mystery # 134

Know what this one is?


We had some close guesses today, in fact a correct guess that this is a member of the mantis family. Specifically, it’s Carolina Mantis, native to North America. You might see them in a variety of colors, form brown to tan to gray to green. This is because the mantis can change it’s color to camouflage with its environment–but not at will. As the young mantis nymph grows and molts, each new skin color will be close to the predominant color in the area at the time. But once they reach adulthood, they are stuck with their last color.

Carolina Mantis on Passion Flower

Above is another view of the native Carolina Mantis, and below is the Chinese Praying Mantis that was imported from China in 1895 to help deal with pest problems.

Chinese Praying mantis

We also had some guesses that this insect was a walking stick, so here is a walking stick for comparison.

Walking Stick

Pretty stream-lined insect. Even his eyes don’t stick out. Hope this helps you sort your garden insects, which are at their largest now that the growing season is at its end.

Thirsty Thursday

It rained! For more than one day, too!

Raindrops in spider web

Spiderwebs cauth with raindrops

We at The Squirrel Nutwork are excited, but not nearly as excited as this chipmunk in our neighborhood.

Eastern Chipmunk

The rain knocked leaves and ripe acorns from this Pin Oak, making them easy gathering for a fellow mammal who isn’t as keen on climbing as we are.

Pin Oak after rain

But when it’s easy pickings, we’ll grab some of those acorns, too!

Eastern Gray Squirrel gathering acorns

And happy first of October! (Where has the year gone?)


Seems to be the season for noticing this white-flowered plant.

Bonset flowers

Exactly three years ago, Ms. Flora helped me narrow it down to Boneset, but we never did determine a specific species. This year, we squirrels are seeing the plant–one we never noticed when it wasn’t blooming–along roadways and in all sorts of corners.

Boneset plant

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve


These long, long leaves may not be too familiar to many of you…but we squirrels love them. What tree is it?

Mystery # 133

Check back with you later!


Difficult one today, huh?

These very chewed up leaves of the Eastern Black Walnut, Juglans nigra, are compound leaves and look pretty much like Ash, Tree of Heaven and Sumac tree leaves, so we squirrels don’t blame you for your confusion. Also like the last two of these, the walnut likes sun and will grow along the edges of woods. But the thing that makes walnut trees oh so much better than those other species, is hitting the ground right now.

Eastern Black Walnut

You guessed it, walnuts!

Now the Black Walnut’s nut arrives in a pretty nasty hull. It falls, green and hard, and starts to rot on the ground, turning into a sticky black mush that will leave your paws black, too. In fact, we squirrels have heard tell that these hulls were used by humans as a dye. It doesn’t come out.

The smart thing to do is leave those walnuts on the ground–wherever they fall–until the fall rains wash off the hull.

Eastern Black walnuts collecting on ground

I did spy a clever chipmunk raiding the nut meats from the crushed walnuts that fell in the street in our neighborhood and were run over.


We collect them, chew through the very hard shell and devour the nut meat. It has a strong taste which isn’t for everyone.

Happily, that just means more for us squirrels!

Preparing for winter

Notice anything odd about this bird house?

bird house with squirrel chewing

Some squirrel–not any of us!–has decided he’d rather renovate a birdhouse by gnawing at the small hole opening to enlarge it. Probably a young one, who would rather chew than construct his own leaf nest. True, a good old fashioned hollow tree, or a appropriately sized squirrel nest box, keep the cold and wind out better.

Squirrel Nest Box

Perhaps you have one lying around?