Ask SAM added to shell 110518

Q: I heard that Miss Esther’s bicycle was stolen. What can we do to help?


Answer: Esther Deaver’s bicycle has been recovered, according to several people posting on “Where’s Whoopi?,” a public Facebook group. Deaver, a familiar face around town who is often seen with a pink bicycle, is known by such nicknames as “Miss Esther,” “The Bicycle Lady” and “Whoopi,” because some people think she resembles Whoopi Goldberg. The Facebook group gives updates on her from concerned citizens. Deaver, who is a very private person, is not directly involved with the site.

It’s not clear if her bicycle was stolen, but she had been seen without it several times recently and some people were concerned. One person posted that she told him someone had taken the bike; another said it had been found in the woods and returned to Deaver.

Q: We’ve lived in the same house for more than 30 years and have had thousands of granddaddy long-leg spiders each year. This year I’ve only seen a handful. What happened? We do not spray insecticides.


Answer: It’s hard to say. SAM checked with Mike Waldvogel, an entomologist with N.C. State University. “After conferring with some colleagues, we agree that you can’t readily use a single observation — i.e., even a single season- to draw a sweeping conclusion about why the numbers of daddy long-legs may appear to be lower,” he said. “Obviously, weather plays into this significantly both now and earlier in the year.”

Also, he said, like many predator species, there will be fewer daddy long-legs if they don’t have enough to eat. “If prey populations are down in their immediate area, they will move in search of better sites for finding prey,” Waldvogel said. “So basically, there’s no real answer to give them about this. It could all reverse next year.”

As an aside, he pointed out that despite urban legend, it’s not true that daddy long-legs are highly venomous but have fangs too short to bite people. Also, though they are sometimes called “daddy long-leg spiders” or “granddaddy long-leg spiders,” Waldvogel pointed out that they are not technically spiders.

As, a science website, puts it, “they are classified as arachnids. Like all arachnids, they do have eight legs and tend to skitter about the way spiders do. We often see them in the same places where we see spiders. In fact, daddy long-legs are more like scorpions than spiders.” Other types of arachnids include mites and ticks.

Q: My mother had a big hole in her yard at the city drainage ditch. She reported it to City Link before her death in 2018 but nothing was ever done, and my daughter lives there now and has reported it through City Link numerous times. What needs to happen to get it fixed?


Answer: “If the issue is within the public right-of-way, then the city will address the issue,” said Keith Huff, stormwater director with the city, when we forwarded your email to him. “However, if the issue is off the public (right of way) then it is considered a private drainage situation and is the owner’s responsibility.”

He said he would be in touch with you to determine those details.

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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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