I woke up this morning to find this beauty resting on my windowsill.
Luna Moth resting on my windowsill
According to the National Audubon Society, even though they are fairly common over their geographic range, they are a rare find due to the fact that their lifespan is only about a week and they are nocturnal creatures. I am lucky to see one almost every year since my house is situated right in the middle of it’s favored habitat, the deciduous forest. They generally emerge from their egg in the morning and find a place to rest and hang through the day to allow its wings to inflate with its blood before flying off at night to seek a mate. I guess this one felt my window was a perfect resting place.
An interesting fact is that because they only live for about 7 days, their only function is to procreate. Therefore, they have no mouth or digestive organs.
I had to leave around 9am, but he was still here when I got home a little after 2pm. (I say “he” because the male has fuller antennae and I don’t think they could get much bigger than this.) Tippy did investigate, but she didn’t bother it.
I cropped the picture so you can get a closer look at his underside. If you compare the antennae from this morning, you can tell that he filled out a lot during the day.
He’s an odd looking, fluffy creature that you want to hug and run away from all at once. If you took away the wings, it would make a perfect urban legend monster. Or maybe a mutant zombie Olaf? What do you think it looks like?
Last night, for the first time since I’ve had Tippy, I threw up in front of her. She was very concerned and came running over and leaned against my legs. I felt bad that I couldn’t console her, but that’s hard to do when your head is in a trash can.
I spent the night on the couch, since it’s easier to get up from quickly and is closer to the bathroom. She kept an eye on me to make sure I was okay. She’s a great little caregiver.
I have been able to keep some food down today, so hopefully it was only a 24 hour bug and I’ll be back to normal in a couple of days.
Last night, I went out on the porch, planning only to count the skunks and not take any pictures. But, the squatters came out a little earlier than they had before, so I managed to get a couple of decent photos. I didn’t get one of all of them because they spotted me and ran for safety. At least you can see that the mother is almost pure white on the back.
The squatter family.
Running for safety.
This morning, I let Tippy outside around 8:15. I heard her pounce on the walkway and bark. I went to the window and saw her retreating around the corner. About the same time the odor hit me. I knew it had happened. She had gotten sprayed!
I went out to make sure she was okay and found foamy slobbers in the garage floor and her licking her lips like you do when you have tasted something awful and are trying to get the taste out of your mouth. Other than that, she seemed okay. I got her a doggie cookie, thinking that might help. It didn’t hurt.
She was lucky that there was only a small slit between the boards. She seemed to only get a glancing blow, and mostly on the right side of her face and ear. I got her shampoo, a rag, and a tub of water and went back out. She usually balks at all attempts at a bath, but will tolerate it once I start. Today, she came right to me. She must have understood that I was trying to make the smell go away. The groomer who formulated this natural cedar shampoo said that it works great on skunk oil, to just be sure and put the shampoo on the affected area before wetting it so that it can contact the oil directly. I followed her directions and used the rag to give her head a good scrubbing and rinsing. It seemed to work pretty good.
After a good scrub down.
Thanks for making me smell better, mom.
Since she had been foaming at the mouth, I did call her vet and talk to them. They said to just keep an eye on her and as long as she was eating and didn’t throw up, she would be okay. As you can see, she was fine.
We took the trash off later in the morning, so she could enjoy a ride in the truck. I did have an ulterior motive, however. I wanted to get away from the constant odor that permeates the garage to see if I had gotten it all off of Tippy. When she turned her head toward me, I would get a mild whiff. So, when we got back from our ride, I gave her a good bath all over. She was due one anyway. She wasn’t as fond of that, but survived. While she was damp, I put some baking soda on her ears and the side of her face. I’m not sure which thing worked, but I don’t smell anything on her tonight.
I hate to do it, but until the squatter family is evicted, I am going to have to keep Tippy on leash when she is outside. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before the babies follow mom and we can trap them.
The saga continues. The morning after I discovered the squatters were skunks, I called the Nuisance Wildlife Control man and told him what I had seen. He said if the babies aren’t old enough to follow mom out to forage in the night that they will not come out and get in the traps. What does that mean? We have to wait until they are bigger. So, for now, we are stuck with a family that is refusing to follow the eviction notice Tippy and I have given them.
Since there was nothing in the traps, I sprung them so that we wouldn’t catch one of them and then be in a real pickle.
This week, Tippy and I have been trying to see if we can tell how many skunks are actually living there so we will be sure we have them all once we can trap them.
One night I saw not one, but two adults. I googled skunks and found out that the males have nothing to do with raising the young, but sometimes females will share a den. So, I probably have not one, but two squatter families! I tried to get a picture through the window, using a flash. This was NOT the best idea I have ever had.
I did find out that it scares the adults, who came running back under the porch to protect their young. They did emerge again, about 5 minutes later. I tried to get a picture without the flash, but it didn’t turn out too well either. If you look hard enough between the rails in the middle, you can see a white fuzzy spot that is the tail of a skunk.
Another night, I decided to be adventurous, and actually went out onto the porch to watch them come out, try to count them, and get a picture. I saw only one adult, almost pure white, and six little ones. Mom took them just into the edge of the woods and then back to the porch. She left and went a different way, walking right past where I was standing. (The porch at that point is about 5 feet off of the ground, so I wasn’t at her level.) The babies ventured out into the edge of the woods again, and then ran back to the safety of the porch. It was pretty cute, I have to admit. The only picture I got was of the mom…but, as you can see, it isn’t very good either, even with editing. Phone cameras are not the best for this scenario. The skunk is about a quarter of the way down on the right hand side.
In the meantime, Tippy is being very vigilant about keeping an eye, or nose, on them.
She has also found out that she can get part of the way under the walkway. She gets under there and barks. I know she can’t see them from there, but I’ll bet the smell is a lot stronger, since that is where they come and go. I know in my head that she is probably less likely to get sprayed from there than when she is barking right over the den opening, but, for some reason, it makes me more nervous. If I find out she is there, I make her come out.
Stop yelling at me. I’m coming!
Can you see me now?
Then, I usually make her come in the house to take a break. I don’t think she likes that, but she makes the best of a bad situation.
I plan to continue to try to count how many members of the squatter family (families) there are and hopefully get some better pictures. Stay tuned. Fingers and paws crossed that no one gets sprayed.
Recently, when I take Tippy out the side garage door, she has been sniffing at the wooden walkway. I wasn’t sure if she was smelling something that had walked by in the night or something that was underneath.
For the last couple of weeks, it has become obvious that something has taken up residence under there. Tippy has gotten more and more agitated when we go out, barking as she sniffs at the boards. I have put off taking care of this intruder because I was afraid of what it might be. You see, a few years back, after putting up with skunk odor for a couple of weeks, I finally took up some of the boards, looked underneath, and discovered a semi-mummified skunk. Very disgusting and hard to remove.
Tippy has gotten increasingly obsessive about that area. When she first goes out, she sniffs and barks and sniffs some more, sometimes clawing at the walkway.
She does calm down fairly quickly, but can often be seen guarding against the intruder, either at the walkway or in the garage.
I’ll make sure it stays put.
Don’t worry mom. I won’t let it in the house.
I decided it was time to be brave and see what I could find. I removed some of the boards, very carefully.
Tippy was very helpful with the inspection of the area underneath the walkway.
I’m sure it’s in there somewhere!
Mom, I see a hole. I think that’s where the intruder is living.
I’m telling you mom. It is under here!
In deep thought after the inspection was completed.
No animal was spotted, but I did find a hole that something has dug underneath the garage, along the basement wall. It’s a fairly small hole, so I’m hoping it’s not anything huge. Here’s a picture, but it is really hard to see. Sorry, but I wasn’t brave enough to put my phone, and hand, any closer to the den just to get a better picture.
I was hoping that I could run the mystery critter off and then fill in the hole. I put some moth balls at the opening of the den and some leaves where it looked like it had gone underneath wire dad and I had put up to keep things out of that area after the above skunk incident.
I checked the next morning and it was obvious that the critter had left. To insure it didn’t come back before I got a chance to work on filling in the hole, I put more leaves in the opening of both the hole and the wire. Unfortunately, those were gone the next time I checked, so it was back. If someone threw mothballs in my doorway, I think I’d be tempted to leave. That is not a pleasant smell.
I was in a quandary as to what to do. I called our local animal control office. They do not take care of wildlife, but referred me to a local gentleman who provides wildlife removal services. He came out this morning, looked around, and set up a couple live traps. They aren’t showing up very good in the photos as they blend into the environment. I suppose that is on purpose.
Food in the live trap
Both traps are set.
I was hoping it could potentially be a ground hog. He said they usually aren’t found in wooded areas, so the more likely scenario is a skunk. If it is a female, she likely has babies this time of year. Since I haven’t seen a train of skunks, he thinks it is a rouge male.
UPDATE: I just looked out the window and saw not one, but six, yes SIX skunks. So, it is a mom with babies. None of which seemed interested in the food that was in the traps. I’m not sure what will happen if one of the baby’s gets caught or if the mom does. No way are 2 traps going to catch six or more skunks. I could be in trouble here!
Fingers and paws crossed that we are able to get rid of our squatter family without too much trouble or smell.