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NatureWatch: What's on readers' minds? Problematic woodpeckers, late-season robins and of course, jumping worms.

Jumping worms (copy)

An invasive jumping worm, bottom, next to a common nightcrawler.

Q: We have recently been having a problem with woodpeckers pecking holes in the wooden corner moldings of our house. The wood was stained and finished with an oil based sealer and is about 13 years old and in good condition, so I’m not sure why this is occurring. I would appreciate it if you have any suggestions for ways to deter them.

— David A., West Stockbridge

A: My first suggestion is to have an exterminator examine the damage area, as the woodpeckers may be after insects. If the damaged area gets a clean bill of health, fill the damages and repaint the moldings with a good quality oil paint.

Q: The other afternoon a lone robin was eating winter barriers in our yard. Is it one of the robins that may have nested here last summer or one of the early winter robins that joins bluebirds in feeding on the berries during the winter?

– Susan S., Pittsfield

A: It is not possible for me to distinguish between winter robins and summer robins. My thought is that it was, or is, if still there, a late migrant.



Martin K., of Lenox, wrote: “Thanks for covering this again. You responded last summer to my email to you. At Twelve Oaks, we work hard to remove it at the root and keep it out. It is a constant battle, but we can win.

The issue should really rise to the level of our state legislators. Why not used some of the Build Back Better funds to preserve our natural environment by removing this aggressive and destructive invasive species. It would take effort and provide jobs for people but would preserve our trees. If it is not done, our region will look like a dystopian landscape 20 or even 10 years from now. Take a look driving down the Saw Mill River Parkway in Westchester (N.Y.) County — the only living greenery is bittersweet flowing like waves over dying and dead trees and shrubs.

I believe this is a crisis. Can The Eagle take the lead on addressing this and calling on state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and state Sen. Adam Hinds and the others to DO SOMETHING about this brewing crisis?”


Christine wrote:  “Thanks for your interest and the info you are sharing about jumping worms. I thought this might be of interest to some of your readers … the University of Massachusetts Amherst is hosting an online Jumping Worm Conference in January. "

The two-day conference, being held 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Jan. 26 and 27, 2022, will offer live presentations with scientists who specialize in jumping/snake work research. Presenters will discuss the latest understanding of these earthworms, how to identify jumping worms, their potential impacts and the latest research into how they might be managed. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions following the presentations. The events, according to the website, will not be recorded. For more information and ticket information, visit ag.umass.edu/landscape/events/jumping-worm-conference. Registration is required. 


Thom Smith, NatureWatch columnist.

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