DEAR JOAN: Two months ago, we realized that a skunk had dug a very long tunnel under our porch.
She would not be discouraged, so we suspected she had a litter. Now the little darlings are coming out and are so cute.
There has never been a smell at all, but what about the future? Also, the concrete and rock porch is starting to sag. We need to dissuade them from staying (we tried rags soaked in ammonia) and want to fill the long tunnel with displaced soil and new concrete, when it is safe to do so.
Any suggestions on removal? We find them so endearing but we are not a registered B&B.
Penny Herman, Los Gatos
DEAR PENNY: Are you sure? I see your house listed on VRBO — Varmint Rentals By Owner — and you’ve got a 5-star rating.
Baby skunks usually are weaned when they are 6 weeks old, and they began to wander outside the den when they are 8 weeks old. When the pups are at this stage, it’s a good time to serve the eviction notice. You won’t be throwing infants out into the cold, and you’ll be sure you aren’t sealing any up beneath the porch.
Have all of your materials for closing up entrances at the ready. You’ll need hardware cloth, a jar of peanut butter, some plastic spoons, a pair of old pantyhose and some mothballs.
Cut the feet off the pantyhose to create bags. Fill them with mothballs and tie the top securely closed. Next, seal off all entrances under the porch except for one. Outside that entrance, leave a plastic spoon with a dollop of peanut butter and create a trail of peanut butter-covered spoons leading away from the house.
Next, toss the bags of mothball under the porch. Between the mothballs, which repel the skunks, and the peanut butter, which lures them, all the skunks should come out into the open. Once you are certain they are all out, block off the entrance.
You can then work on the porch and tunnel. To keep the skunks from burrowing back to their den, dig a trench around your porch about 8 inches deep. Bend the hardware cloth into the shape of an L, attaching the upper portion to the porch and burying the rest in the trench. The flat leg of the L should extend out from the porch, beneath the ground, 8 to 12 inches.
While you’ve thus far been spared from the skunk odor, you’ll eventually get it. Contrary to popular belief and all those cartoons we watched at children, skunks do not randomly go about spraying their perfume, but the babies, like chicks learning to fly, have to practice their smelly art.
DEAR JOAN: This lovely hummingbird showed up at our feeder. It has a white ring around its neck and more of an apricot-toned body. What is it, please?
We also had one that looked almost completely apricot or orange show up.
DEAR JAMAICA: Both birds were, most likely, rufous hummers. They have a white throat and an orangish body. They are part of the migration that’s sweeping into the Bay Area this spring.
The rufous spends the winter in Mexico and passes through California, traveling along the Pacific Flyway, to its spring and summer home further north and up into Canada.
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