The Link between Opossums and Ticks

gray and white opossum on leaves

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Our perception of reality when it comes to understanding wildlife behavior is often not the same as the actual reality. Sadly, that fact combined with our preconceived notions about a species often prevents us from understanding the facts as they truly are. The opossum is near the top of the list of our most misunderstood, maligned, and at times, feared creatures. In reality, opossums should be among the most loved creatures that not only share our urban, suburban, and rural habitats, but also thrive in them. They are guardians of our health and warriors against one of the most troublesome creatures in our midst, ticks.

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Trailside Pokeweed of Summer’s End

purple pokeweed berries

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As summer heat begins to fade, Pokeweed, a native shrub-like plant, accelerates its growth and draws attention to the edge zones of many of our most popular trails and woodlands of the Oakland County landscape. It often appears under power lines and is rather common in sections of our larger parks and State Recreation Areas. Sometimes, it thrives within front and back yards of homes and near areas of new construction. At night, its ripening fruits take on a special eye-catching beauty when captured by a camera’s lens. However, by the time pumpkins are coated with frost, pokeweed mysteriously vanishes.

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Oakland County’s White-Tailed Deer

a buck in green field

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

White-tailed deer are the smallest members of the deer family, which include moose and elk, but without a doubt, they are the largest and one of the most frequently seen mammals of Oakland County. Love them or hate them, they are here to stay. Our diverse natural habitats, landscaping practices, and travel corridors gift them with an abundant food supply, places to take shelter, and the opportunity to leisurely graze on a great variety of seasonally changing wild plants and fruits, including leaves, grasses, forbs, fiddleheads, mushrooms, acorns, twigs, nuts, wild fruits, and at times, our vegetable and flower gardens, and farm crops.

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Poison Sumac: Tale of a Toxic Trailside Beauty

red poison sumac

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As the crisp days of autumn draw near, I increase my explorations of the wondrous world of our wetlands, swamps, and marshlands. They take on a special peaceful splendor in the waning days of summer, especially in the dawn’s early light. The wetland-embracing trails on the wilder side of Oakland County lure me in as surely as honey bees fly to flowers for nectar and pollen. However, this year as in the years before, I will be watchful for and ever wary of one wetland plant in particular. This plant presents a clear and present danger to humans that have the misfortune of making physical contact. Even touching or brushing against any part of this toxic trailside beauty may lead to a world of woe and in some severe cases of exposure, a visit to an emergency department follows.

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