DEAR JOAN: Vector control accidentally came to my house when they meant to go to my neighbors' home. Seems my neighbor called them out to catch the local skunk. Why can't people just leave nature alone? I know a lot of people don't like skunks, but they do good things as well.

I truly hope his yard gets invaded with grubs and snails and whatever else that skunk was eating. I also hope the skunk haunts him in his dreams, because you know vector control is just going to kill it. I tried to get into the neighbors' yard before the vector, but they beat me there. I feel awful for that poor skunk. I used to like my neighbor, but honestly I am now thinking twice.

Kena R.

Walnut Creek

DEAR KENA: Please don't hate your neighbor. He may have thought he was doing the best thing for his family and the neighborhood. But yes, you are absolutely correct. Other than the risk of getting sprayed, a skunk is a good neighbor to have around. They eat all manner of insects, slugs and snails, and they rarely bother anything else in your yard and garden. Yet many people can't get past the odor thing.

Accept that nature will sometimes encroach on what we like to think of as our exclusive domain. Make a decision on what you're willing to accept with a generous eye toward the environment.

I'm perfectly willing to let ants scurry around in the backyard, but I draw the line at having them in my house. I don't mind a skunk under my deck if it doesn't mind my yapping Chihuahua barking his head off at it. All the spiders in the kingdom can build webs around my garden, and I don't even mind raccoons tramping around the yard. I'm not happy about the gopher that has taken up residence in my front yard, but I'm only willing to try to convince it to move elsewhere, not kill it. Rats outside are creepy, but as long as they stay outside, I can live with them, too.

So next time you see a creature in your yard, think about sharing your space. We need the biodiversity.

DEAR JOAN: What causes the hummingbird food to turn all cloudy?

I try to keep food in my feeder all year. I change every week, I clean with vinegar only. I use 2 cups water to a half cup sugar and boil, then load after cooled. During winter I reduce by half.

Sometimes, two days later the water is all cloudy, and I am concerned it is not good for the little guys.

Any thoughts -- good, bad, why?

Cheryl

San Jose

DEAR CHERYL: Sounds like you are doing everything right, although some suggest cleaning feeders with nothing more than hot water. If you use vinegar, make sure you rinse well.

The cloudiness is probably the result of cooler temperatures, which can cause the sugar to drop out of suspension, or for lack of a better term, to thicken. It won't hurt the hummers, but it's probably not so great for them, either. Keep an eye on them and when you see the cloudiness, replace the nectar.

Thanksgiving no-nos

Hard to believe next week is Thanksgiving, but here are some tips from Pet360.com to make sure your pets have a safe one:

  • Don't "treat" your pets to any human foods, no matter how much they beg. Pets just aren't used to that rich food and it can give them a tummy upset.

  • Ask your guests not to feed pets leftovers. Some people may think you are being arbitrary about not sharing a bite of turkey, so stand your ground.

  • Keep garbage and bones well away from pets.

  • No desserts, either.

    Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.