Dave from Pittsfield asked about his tomatoes being eaten (usually only half) in last week's Naturewatch. I suggested a gray squirrel may be the guilty party. Two readers added their suggestions:

I suspect the tomato eater mentioned in today's column is a woodchuck. We had that experience in our garden at home for many years and again when we gardened at Canoe Meadows. The woodchuck would eat or nibble one tomato and then switch to another, ruining quite a few. If no one was going to be home, I hung a little radio in the garden that discouraged them from coming, but eventually they would be back when the radio was not on. -- Norma P.

Mice would eat half of the tomato and leave the rest. I believe the reason why they only ate half of the tomato is because they stood on the half they left behind. Since there were plenty of tomatoes they moved on to the next one that they could have a place to stand on. I have several pictures of them in action. -- Jack T.

Q: I observed a robin tugging and tugging on one of our Artemisia plants until it had a good-sized piece, which it eventually flew away with. Was it going to use it for nesting? -- Vickie

A:My thought is that some species of Artemisia have been used as flea and mite repellant in earlier times. I would suppose that we are not the only inhabitants of this planet to know this. I do not suggest its use as such, but possibly the robin was taking it to "dust" with, wiping it over its feathers to discourage parasites.


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Birds have been known to even rub themselves in cigarette butts and ashes for the same reason. You wouldn't use these, so don't use Artemisia.

Q:My annual garden is full of slugs. How do I get rid of them? Also on my walks on Pontoosuc Lake there are bats flying aimlessly during the day. Do they have white nose syndrome disease? --Karen

A:This is one old recipe that I uses when I had a vegetable garden in Dalton some years ago: Bury shallow containers like tuna fish cans, yogurt cups, and similar so that the tops are level with the ground. Fill 3 4 full of cheep bear. Slugs and possibly snails will be attracted, enter and drown. As for the bats, I suggest you phone local expert Rene' Laubach, director of Berkshire Sanctuaries, at (413) 637-0320.

Questions and comments for Thom Smith: Email Naturewatch@live.com