Part II of the Yellow-Jackets-Eating-Squirrel-Flesh Incident
To read Part I, click here.
I kept going back to that spot by the tree looking for another dead squirrel with yellow jackets entering and exiting its flesh. Nothing. Then last night I was out in my garage looking through all my hands-on-science-and-history bins for a real starfish and sea horse another teacher had asked if she could borrow. (To see more on hands-on science and history stuff click here.) As I was digging through one of the bins, I happened to look down by our bike rack and gasped--there lay a ripped-open dead squirrel. In my garage. It must have been deposited there by our great hunter cat, Amadeus. (With a name like that he should be a peaceful music-loving cat that sits on our front porch listening to us practice. No. He's out in the back yard killing poor, unsuspecting gray squirrels.)
I immediately thought, yellow jacket bait. I picked up the deceased squirrel by its tail and deposited it by the walnut tree in exactly the same spot where I had found the first squirrel. I waited until dark. No yellow jackets. I wasn't about to let it stay out at night and lose a squirrel a second time. I put it inside a plastic bag and put it in my refrigerator for the night. This morning when I opened the door to the fridge there was a strange smell and I couldn't figure out what it was until after I'd finished a cup of coffee and woken up a little bit. Oh, yes . . . .
I asked my eldest son if he would unwrap it and take it out by the tree to attract yellow jackets while I was teaching. "May I please not touch dead stuff?" he politely asked. I grabbed the bag, ran outside and deposited my bait and waited all day. Nothing but a wet, cold, dead squirrel. I think it was too cold and rainy for yellow jackets.
So I figured it would at least make a good science lesson as Amadeus had already kindly exposed part of its anatomy for us. We grabbed a good pair of scissors and cut it open down to the pelvis. We found its heart, kidneys, liver, stomach, and small and large intestines. Then we cut open its stomach and found chewed-up walnuts. Lovely. She is in the freezer tonight. I think my friend who wanted the sea horse and starfish would like to show this to her class as well. It's all in a day's work.