Where Have All the Acorns Gone?

I’m a little late in posting this, but the Washington Post asks: What’s up with no acorns this year? Even the squirrels are unhappy:

“The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn’t find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. Then he went out to look for himself. He came up with nothing. Nothing crunched underfoot. Nothing hit him on the head.

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.”

Read the article to find out just what the heck is going on with the Season of No Acorns!

If Acorns Are Poisonous, Why Do Squirrels Eat Them Like I Eat Cupcakes?

Good question, right?

According to Aiken-Standard columnist Bill Hayes, it’s complicated. He wasn’t sure himself so he did a lot of research, such as:

“I found all sorts of stories about Native Americans eating acorns as part of their daily diet. I also found one article that said that the average life span of the American Indian was 30 years but made no reference to acorns as being part of the problem. Because of the high tannin content in red acorns the bitterness was probably strong enough to discourage all but the very hungry.”

As it turns out, some acorns — but not all — are poisonous. And a little biological mechanism at work known as adaptation helps our squirrel friends eat most acorns without any problems.

Read Bill’s column to find out what that adaptation is, and which acorns should stay out of your daily recommended allowance.