Q Why doesn’t a spider get caught in its own web?

A: A spider has two very different threads that come out of its body. One of the threads is sticky and extremely strong. This thread is the one that traps flies, ants and other insects. The other thread is not sticky. The spider walks across the nonsticky silk when it wants to cross the web. Should the spider slip (or get pushed), it has an oily coating on its body that keeps it from facing the same fate as other insects.

Q What kind of cactus provides water that you can drink if you are stranded in a desert?

A: Barrel cactus pulp contains enough obtainable water for humans to rely on in emergency situations. However, all cacti bear fruits are edible, albeit only obtainable a few months of the year.

Q With oil prices so high, how can I cut energy consumption this winter?

A: Here are four practical suggestions for getting the biggest bang for your heating dollar. The greatest heat loss is through the roof. So make certain you have at least 6 inches of insulation in the roof or ceiling of your home. Payback should happen in less than one year.

Keep the thermostat set at 68 degrees. Do not be a thermostat jiggler. If you want to raise the temperature by 2 or 3 degrees, do not set the thermostat up 10 degrees in the belief that this will heat your house faster, it will not. If you have a fireplace, keep its damper closed when not in use. Increasing the humidity in the home will make a cooler temperature more comfortable. Use a humidifier or place pans of water near heat sources.

Q What is the best way to protect wooden cutting boards from the bacteria that is left behind after cutting meat?

A: You should always clean the cutting board after cutting meat by washing it thoroughly. Some suggest applying a bleach and water solution and then rinsing. You may also want to use two different cutting boards: one for meat, poultry and seafood, and another for vegetables.Other people suggest melting and applying paraffin to wooden cutting boards. You can apply the paraffin with an old electric iron or an old metal iron that’s been warmed on a wood stove. The melted wax and the iron’s heat seal cracks and opens pores in the wood that can hold onto germs and bacteria. It’s also a good idea to discard boards with big cracks or lots of grooves.

Q Why is Lebanon, Kan., called the “belly button of the United States”?

A: Lebanon, Kan., is the geographical center of the lower 48 states and, as such, has been referred to as the country’s belly button.

Write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]

Q: Why is eating an apple good for your teeth?

A: The juice of an apple acts as a cleanser for your teeth and the flesh of the apple is hard enough to help rid your teeth of plaque. While brushing is still the best way to clean your teeth, you may want to try eating an apple a day to help keep your teeth cleaner.

Q: I’ve heard the term “virga” used in a weather report but I’m not sure what “virga” means? Can you tell me?

A: Virga are wisps or streaks of precipitation (water or ice particles) that stream down from a cloud but evaporate before reaching the Earth’s surface

Q: Who was the first president born a U.S. citizen?

A: Martin Van Buren, our eighth president, was the first president to be born a U.S. citizen and not a British subject. He was born in 1782, six years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

If you have a question for the Farmers’ Almanac write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]

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