Question of the Day

How can I get rid of the carpenter bees that are dismantling my garage?

Female carpenter bees make long tunnels in wood to store pollen and eggs. They like redwood and unpainted deck timber, or painted wood with some holes already started. Carpenter bees drill into the wood and tunnel with the grain. They may spend the winter in these tunnels. Dust the tunnels or inject them with pressurized liquid insecticide. Insert a dusted plug of steel wool or copper gauze in the tunnel; fill the opening with caulk, wood filler, or a wooden dowel. A dusted plug stops new adults that otherwise would emerge through shallow caulking.

Last 7 Days

    Did the term "snow job" ever have a literal meaning, such as plowing or shoveling, or did it always mean something deceitful?

    The phrase has always implied something that was sinister or insincere. Like the blizzards that cause a virtual, blinding white-out, a snow job is a form of obstruction or confusion by way of overwhelming with words or details. During World War II, American G.I.s used the expression (and the practice) to persuade their higher-ups that they should be given extra time off or, in some cases, forgiven for some perceived infraction because of circumstances beyond their control. Bosses are often offered snow jobs in the form of elaborate excuses for work not done or deadlines not met. Teachers get their snow jobs in the guise of "the dog ate my homework," parents have various versions all tailored to the particular child in question.

    What is the warmest body of water on Earth?

    The hottest ocean area is in the Persian Gulf, where water temperatures at the surface exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Another hot area exists in the Red Sea, where a temperature of 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit has been recorded at a depth of about 6,500 feet. In the open ocean, maximum temperatures occur north of the equator. The zone of maximum water temperatures shifts with the seasons, but in only a few areas does it extend south of the equator.

    I've heard that baseball players can hit the ball farther after a major rainfall. Is this true?

    It might be true. Humid air or air with low pressure would mean less aerodynamic drag to slow down a baseball traveling through it. The baseball stadium in Denver has low air pressure because of its high altitude. The stadium is somewhat notorious for how far balls travel, so there could be something to this theory. If all other factors are equal, a ball should travel farther on a hot, humid day than on a cool, dry day. We're not aware of any conclusive studies of this phenomenon, however.

    I've been using my dehumidifier a lot this summer. How should I clean it?

    To prevent fungus from growing in your machine, clean any pans, drains, and filters occasionally with a mixture of 1/2 cup bleach and 1 quart water. If you see mineral deposits, a common problem, scrub them with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. Rinse all the dehumidifier's parts well before restarting it.

    My cats bring in ticks occasionally. How do I know if they're the type that spread Lyme disease?

    The tick that carries Lyme disease is called a deer tick and is different from the common dog tick. Although dog ticks are noticeably larger than deer ticks, accurate identification can be made only with a microscope. For certain identification of a tick, you'll have to send it to a laboratory. If you pick ticks off your cats, immerse the ticks in a small vial of alcohol until they can be checked. Ask your local vet for the lab closest to you.

    What and when was the year with no summer?

    According to Acts of God: The Old Farmer's Almanac Unpredictable Guide to Weather & Natural Disasters, the year without a summer was 1816. In 1815, the volcano Tambora erupted in Indonesia. The volcano's heavy ash, column of dust, and sulfurous gases rose into the stratosphere, and swift winds spread them around the globe. The hazy shroud caused the sun to appear dull and reddish over the next few years. In 1816, it snowed in New England in July. Snow and killing frosts occurred throughout the northeastern United States and Canada in June, July, and August. The corn crop was abysmal, and the poor farming conditions caused many New Englanders to relocate. The cold reached across the Atlantic to Europe, making it impossible to grow crops there, which spawned widespread famine.

    Can a tornado circulate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere?

    Most tornadoes circulate clockwise, but not all of them do. Scientists have documented a few going counterclockwise. Hurricanes, however, always circulate counterclockwise north of the equator and clockwise south of the equator, due to the Coriolis effect. This is why hurricanes don't occur at the equator. A move from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere (or vice versa) would change the hurricane's direction and weaken it so much that it would fall apart.

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