𝘚𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 25, 2020
When we arrived at our fishing cabin, I noticed there was a vector trap located just off the walkway leading down to the river. I have mentioned I was director of a conference center for five years. We were in a rural setting on the outskirts of a small town, so we got plenty of critters. I obacerated this by allowing fifteen acres of native grass regrow in several areas that had previously been mowed. While I occasionally smelled the presence of skunks, I rarely saw one. That changed one summer when we had a skunk crawl under one of our decks and gave birth to a litter of kits. I thought it was appropriate since the annual women’s meeting was being held that weekend. I called a vector control company who brought a similar trap to the one I saw at the cabin. We never trapped the skunks, and a couple of weeks later they left on their own.
Arkansas is home to two species of skunks, the striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) and the eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius). Skunks are members of the weasel family and are well known for the pervasive odor they spray when provoked. The striped skunks are about the size of a cat, 2-3 feet long and weighing 10-15 pounds. The fur is very thick and mostly black with a white stripe on its neck and head extending down the back and through the bushy tail. The spotted skunk is a much smaller skunk, only half the size of the striped skunk and exceedingly rare. Instead of stripes, the spotted skunk has white spots.
I have been told that if you see a rabies vector species (raccoon, skunk, fox, bat) out during the day there is a good chance they are rabid. When I checked this online, I found it to be a myth. Rather than nocturnal (night active) or diurnal (day active), raccoons and skunks are called crepuscular. “Crepuscular” is drawn from the Latin word for “twilight,” and refers to animals that are active primarily at dawn and dusk. While most of these species are not often seen during the day, it is not uncommon to see them out during the day during fall and spring seasons as they try to pack on weight. Thankfully, the trap was never sprung while we were there.
𝗧𝗛𝗢𝗨𝗚𝗛𝗧𝗦: One of my fears when we placed the vector trap at the camp was that we might actually trap one. Skunks are not known to go “easily into the night.” Instead they get mad and spray. When I asked the control agent about this, he said you could only use the trap for one skunk. Then you had to throw a blanket over the trap to move it. Once they sprayed you would never get another one to enter. There are a lot of myths about how different species act and what their action means. I learned that was true with vectors. I have also found it true with people. We have preconceived ideas about how they will act and what it means. Until we take to the time to get to know another as a person, we allow the myth to what guide our expectation. Change is coming and it starts with you.