DEAR JOAN: How do I find, trap and remove a lizard from the house? I’ve seen it twice in the last two days. They’re great outside, but I have difficulty with them in the house.
Mary-Ann Hudson, San Jose
DEAR MARY-ANN: Catching a lizard in your home is a difficult task. Even in homes that don’t have the clutter that mine has, there are plenty of places for the lizard to hide.
You might have to take this in stages, but the best lizard tracking is at night. Start out by setting up a small buffet for the lizard with an assortment of foods that might attract them. Live crickets are the lobster of the lizard buffet, but you can also offer a few other insects and ants.
Cover a small box or empty container ( shoe boxes and cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt containers are good) with plastic wrap. Cut a small opening in the center of the plastic and drop the crickets inside. The lizard with be able to get in through the hole, but won’t be able to get out on its own.
If trapping isn’t your thing, you can try shooing. You’ll probably need a friend or a dozen to serve as assistant lizard wranglers. Arm them with newspapers or large pieces of cardboard for use in directing the lizard out of the door. You might need to move all the furniture away from the walls.
If you’re a solo stalker, look for the lizard at night, and arm yourself with a spray bottle full of ice cold water. Spraying the lizard with the chilled water will temporarily cause it to freeze in place, at which time you can scoop it up and deposit it outside.
DEAR JOAN: Last year we planted a new fruitless mulberry tree — 6 feet tall — to replace a much older one that had died.
The new tree thrived throughout the summer and fall until the leaves fell. This spring, as new buds and leaves appeared, squirrels jumped onto the branches and ate all of the new growth, leaving bare branches behind. This was very disturbing to me.
Our solution was to cover the trunk with black PVC, which was too slippery for the squirrels to climb. The tree has revived, and it’s leafy again, but not fully filled out.
Is it usual for squirrels to attack fruitless mulberry trees? After this incident I wonder if they also contributed to the death of the mulberry’s predecessor.
Helen Gjerde, Saratoga
DEAR HELEN: You call it attacking, squirrels call it mindful pruning.
Squirrels chew, nip, clip and snip away at pretty much all trees, not just mulberries. They do it for a couple of reasons.
One, they use the material to build their nests, and two, squirrels and most all creatures in the rodent family, have teeth that continue to grow throughout their lives. They need to gnaw in order to keep the teeth filed down, and so they take advantage of trees, fences, patios and pretty much anything that doesn’t gnaw back at them.
Although the damage they do might appear alarming, they rarely cause any lasting harm. Some of the pruning can actually be beneficial as it stimulates more growth in the plant.
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