While we most often think of wildlife being a problem in the winter months, these animals don’t just disappear when the weather gets warm. Wildlife can still be quite active in the summer, wreaking havoc on our homes and gardens. Whatever the time of year, preventing and controlling these nuisance pests is of the utmost importance, as they not only cause damage to homes and property, but can also pose significant health risks to both humans and pets. Wildlife prevention (also known as wildlife exclusion) is the first line of control against critters; however, once they have established themselves in or around your home, wildlife removal becomes a more necessary option. Let’s look at some common summer wildlife, as well as ways to exclude them from your home.
Snakes are cold-blooded animals that require heat and sunlight for energy. They are more active in the summer months because they require more energy for mating. Too much exposure can overheat them so snakes are typically more active in the early morning and late evenings or at night in the summertime. They will also seek out shelter during the hottest parts of the day in cool, dark places like underneath rocks and decks or in basements. Snakes will choose where they live based on the availability of food, shelter, and shade.
To prevent snakes this summer:
- Clear away yard clutter, piles of leaves, and wood.
- Keep your grass mowed short to eliminate coverage.
- Trim bushes and hedges regularly.
- Make sure birdseed doesn’t fall on the ground and clean it up if it does.
- Block access to any potential hibernation areas.
- Walk the perimeter of your home and seal, cover, or repair any crack or crevice that is greater than 1/4″.
- Check your garage, garage doors, windows, and exterior doors for gaps and seal them.
- Seal any gaps around water pipes, electrical lines, sump pumps, and other spots that utilities enter your home.
- Ventilate crawlspaces and repair leaky faucets and pipes as these attract pests which, in turn, attract snakes.
While bats are scary to many people, they are actually quite beneficial at keeping insect populations down. In the southern United States, many bat species are active year-round. Bats enter homes through openings. They can cause damage in homes by ruining insulation, causing structural damage when their urine soaks through to sheet rock or particle board, and their urine and feces causing health concerns for occupants of the home. Bats also carry serious diseases such as rabies, with 1 to 3 cases of bat transmitted rabies occurring each year. Bats are nocturnal and emerge at dusk in search of food. Female bats search for summer roosts where they stay until they have their young. For this reason, unless there is a threat to public health, eviction or exclusion of bats should not take place between April and August. Colonies will disband in late summer as bats leave for their winter roosts.
To prevent bats in the summer:
- If you have a bat in your home, locate any openings leading to living spaces in your home from attics, garages, walls, etc and seal them off.
- Close all doors to the room where the bat is and open all windows and exterior doors to allow the bat to escape.
- Inspect and caulk any openings on the exterior of your home that are larger than 1/4″.
- Use window screens, chimney caps, and screen vents.
- Fill any electrical and plumbing holes with steel wool or caulk.
- If you find an entry point, cover it with plastic sheeting or bird netting and then once all the bats are gone, seal it off completely.
- Professional removal is recommended. Professional wildlife pest control will:
- Assess any entry points.
- Install one-way systems to allow bats to exit but not return.
- Seal any entry points.
- Clear, decontaminate, and deodorize the affected area.
Armadillos mate in the fall, with their young born in the spring, making them very active in the summer months. They prefer habitats near streams or other water sources with sandy or clay soil. They are often found in forests, woodlands, prairies, salt marshes, coastal dunes, pastures, cemeteries, parks, golf courses, and crop lands. They love to nest in rock piles, around trees and shrubs, and under rock slabs. Armadillos dig burrows that can be up to 25 feet long, which can significantly damage tree roots. These burrows can also cause flooding if they are dug around crawlspaces, patios, or walkways. Armadillos have poorly developed teeth and limited mobility. they have poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell. They have very few natural predators. They are strong diggers which they rely on to find shelter and food and causing most of the damage around your home and property. Armadillos will eat fruit (especially from gardens and compost piles), grubs, worms, beetles, wasps, ants, millipedes, centipedes, and snails.
To prevent armadillos in the summer:
- Eliminate food sources by getting rid of insects around your home.
- Clean up any rotten fruit that may fall to the ground.
- Maintain proper landscaping by keeping grass mowed and shrubs and trees trimmed.
- Install sturdy fencing that goes at least 1 foot into the ground and at a slight angle.
- Eliminate any areas of excess moisture in your yard as this leads to more grubs and worms.
- Set traps and relocate the armadillos.
Opossum females are laden with their young in the summer months, making them more active in their search for food. Opossums are found throughout the United States. They live in trees and will stay in them as much as possible. They also prefer wet areas like marshes and swamps. Opossums are nocturnal and will forage for food at night. They are beneficial in they eat harmful and unwanted pests around your home. They prefer to eat snails, slugs, spiders, cockroaches, rats, mice and snakes. They will also eat nuts, grass, fruit, roadkill, and garbage. They are rarely aggressive and will play dead when they feel threatened.
To prevent opossums this summer:
- Don’t leave pet food or water out overnight.
- Don’t leave garage doors, pet doors, or unscreened windows open at night.
- Pick up any fruit that has fallen from trees.
- Cover garbage cans at night.
- Clear out any dense bushes, shrubbery, or woodpiles.
- Keep swimming pools and hot tubs covered at night.
- Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed away from fences.
Raccoons are highly intelligent and curious animals. They typically give birth to their young in April and May, making them very active in the summer months. They are found throughout the United States. They prefer to live in heavily wooded areas with access to trees, water, and vegetation. They are extremely adaptable, however, and will make their homes in attics, sewers, barns, and sheds. They are dexterous, capable of opening doors, jars, bottles, and latches. They are known to carry several bacterial diseases. Raccoons are nocturnal animals, searching for food at night. They will eat almost anything including birds, eggs, fish, shellfish, frogs, fruit, insects, nuts, seeds, and even snakes. They are known to destroy gardens, tip over garbage cans, and cause structural damage in their quest for food.
To prevent raccoons this summer:
- Secure trash can lids, especially at night.
- Double bag any trash that contains meat.
- Remove brush and keep shrubbery trimmed.
- Keep grass mowed short.
- Seal any entry points to chimneys, eaves, and attics.
- Install motion detecting sprinklers or strobe lights.
- Remove any fallen fruit from trees.
- Bring bird feeders and pet food in at night.
- Seal pet doors at night.
Rats are active year-round. The summer provides them with ample sources of food making them very active. They are also busy making burrows and storing food in preparation for the winter. Rats can reproduce very quickly so control and elimination can be extremely difficult. They are excellent climbers and are well adapted to living in human environments. Rats can contaminate food, cause fire hazards by chewing through wires, and their urine and feces can cause serious health concerns.
To prevent rats this summer:
- Fill or seal any cracks, crevices, and holes found in foundations or siding.
- Install chimney caps and cover vents with screens.
- Replace any torn screens on windows and doors.
- Remove clutter from garages and storage areas.
- Try to use plastic storage bins versus cardboard boxes.
- Store firewood away from your home.
- Remove bird feeders and pet food at night.
- Keep food and pet food stored in airtight containers.
- Use trash cans with lids.
- Keep your kitchen clean from crumbs and spills.
- Empty the trash regularly.
Prevention is always a good first step at keeping wildlife away. Once you have a wildlife issue, however, prevention usually needs to shift to removal and exclusion. Consider contacting a professional wildlife control company who can assess your wildlife issue and provide you with the safest and most appropriate treatment and prevention options.
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Snakes – scaly, legless creatures that slither into your yard and sometimes even your home. While your first instinct may be to run the other way, there are several benefits to keeping them around. Snakes keep rodent populations under control, with a single snake able to eat 3 to 4 mice at one time. They also eat moles, voles, insects, and even fish.
When Do Snakes Come Out?
Snakes are more commonly encountered when temperatures average between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit; usually during the spring and throughout the summer. They are most active in early morning and late afternoon, as summer temperatures are often too hot for them to be out in during the hottest times of day. Snake activity will pick back up again in late summer and early fall before they go into hibernation or brumation. Brumation is more common in southern states where the climate is warmer and snow is less likely. Snakes don’t actually sleep in brumation but rather their bodies adjust to the lower temperatures, slowing down their metabolism, and making them less active. On warm winter days, brumating snakes will sometimes come out to bask in the sunshine, often surprising unsuspecting people with their presence.
While calling a professional pest control company is a guaranteed and safe way to tackle a snake problem, there are also some home remedies you can try to repel snakes. Home remedies to keep snakes away offer several benefits including:
- Availability: Most home remedies to keep snakes away contain ingredients or methods that are readily available and easy to obtain. The guidelines for their use are also easily found on the internet.
- Affordability: Most home remedies to keep snakes away are significantly cheaper compared to the cost of professional products and services on the market.
- Ease of Use: Most home remedies to keep snakes away are easy to make or implement.
- Safety: Most home remedies to keep snakes away are non-toxic to humans and pets compared to professional products on the market.
Home Remedies to Keep Snakes Away:
Eliminate Food Supplies
Snakes are often found in areas where rodents are present as this is one of their primary food sources. Snakes are also known to eat frogs, birds, moles, voles, insects, and even fish. If you have a problem with any of these animals, consider getting rid of that pest issue first. Once the source of food has been eliminated, snakes will move on in search of another source of food.
Eliminate Hiding Places
Snakes prefer dark, damp places and are known to live and hide in cracks, crevices, and holes. Eliminating these hiding places can help deter snakes from taking up residence on your property. Carefully inspect the exterior of your home and your property and repair any cracks or holes you find. Repair any damaged gutters, piping, and ventilation ducts. Repair or replace any damaged screens on windows and doors. Snakes will also hide in wood piles and compost heaps. If possible, store firewood in sealed, lockable wood boxes. Try to get rid of any piles of wood chip mulch, straw mulch, leaves, etc. that may be collecting on your property.
Change Up Your Landscaping
If your yard or garden is prone to snakes, consider making changes that will deter these pests from coming in. Garden regularly to remove any snake attractants like debris, holes, and overgrowth. Keep the grass cut short to eliminate hiding places for snakes. Consider installing snake-proof fencing made of steel mesh, plastic sheeting, or catch net. If you do install fencing, make sure it is flush with the ground and angled outward and that it is at least 3 feet high and 4 feet deep. You can also use materials that make it difficult for snakes to slither over like holly leaves, pine cones, egg shells, and gravel. You can also consider planting snake repellent plants that provide a natural deterrent. Some common examples include marigolds, lemongrass, and wormwood.
Use Natural Predators
Foxes and raccoons are common predators of snakes. Guinea hens, turkeys, pigs, and cats will also help keep snakes away. If foxes are indigenous to your area, fox urine is a very good natural repellent for snakes when spread around your property.
Smoke Them Out
Snakes have an elevated sense of smell and are ultra-sensitive to odors and fumes. One smell they particularly dislike is smoke. One remedy is to dig a fire pit and let it smoke for several days – covering the embers with moss and leaves can give you the best effect.
Utilize Natural Products
There are several natural products that work well as snake repellents. Some of the more common ones include:
- Napthalene: Napthalene is a common ingredient found in many commercial snake repellent products. It is one of the most common snake repellents. If you don’t want to spend money on a commercial product, napthalene is also the main ingredient found in moth balls. The smell of napthalene irritates snakes without harming them. Place mothballs in holes, cracks, crevices, or any other areas around your property where snakes may be a problem. One caveat to using moth balls is they can be toxic and fatal to children or pets if they are ingested so use caution or avoid using them if you have pets or children in your home.
- Sulfur: Powdered sulfur is a great option to repel snakes. Place powdered sulfur around your home and property and once snakes slither across it, it irritates their skin so they won’t return. Sulfur does give off a strong odor so consider wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth when applying it.
- Clove & Cinnamon Oil: Clove and cinnamon oil are effective snake repellents. These should be mixed together in a spray bottle and sprayed directly on snakes for maximum effect. Use caution as snakes will often run in the opposite direction of the spray. This mixture can also be used in a diffuser indoors as a fumigant, as well
- Garlic & Onions: The sulfonic acid in garlic and onions (the same chemical that makes us cry when we chop onions) repels snakes. Mix these with rock salt and sprinkle them around your home and yard for effectiveness. You can also infuse garlic into any essential oil and use to fumigate rafters, basements, and other hard to reach places.
- Ammonia: Snakes dislike the odor of ammonia so one option is to spray it around any affected areas. Another option is to soak a rug in ammonia and place it in an unsealed bag near any areas inhabited by snakes to deter them away.
- Vinegar: Vinegar is effective at repelling snakes near bodies of water including swimming pools. Pour white vinegar around the perimeter of any body of water for a natural snake repellent.
- Lime: Create a mixture of snake repellent lime and hot pepper or peppermint and pour it around the perimeter of your home or property. Snakes don’t like the smell of the mixture and the fumes are also itchy on their skin.
If home remedies to keep snakes away aren’t working, consider calling a wildlife control company for snake removal, snake prevention recommendations, and possibly other exterminating services like rodent control that could be contributing to the issue.
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The winter months can bring wildlife indoors as they search for food and shelter from the cold weather, causing property damage by chewing through the wood, insulation, and wiring in your home, and can also carry diseases that threaten the health of you and your family. What critters should you be concerned about? Most wildlife control services include the exclusion, removal, and control of animals such as squirrels, rodents, raccoons, snakes, bees, and birds. Safe removal of the nuisance critter is always the first priority when it comes to wildlife, but what can you do to prevent these animals from getting into your home or property to begin with? Keep reading for tips on wildlife prevention and bird control.
- Install door sweeps on exterior doors.
- Repair or replace any damaged window and door screens.
- Replace loose mortar around foundations and weatherstripping around windows and doors.
- Inspect the exterior of your home including the siding for damage, holes, and leaks and repair them immediately.
- Repair any holes under exterior stairs, porches, balconies, etc. to keep animals from taking up residence underneath them.
- Install chimney caps.
- Cover the openings to exhaust fans, soffits, attic vents, and utility pipes.
- Inspect your roof annually for water damage and loose or damaged shingles.
- Keep your attic, basement, and crawlspace well ventilated and dry.
- Clean eaves and gutters regularly to prevent debris from building up.
- Don’t leave your garage door open for prolonged periods of time or overnight.
- Keep tree limbs cut back at least 6 to 8 feet from your roof line.
- Store your firewood off the ground and at least 20 feet from your home.
- Keep your grills or barbecues clean and grease-free.
- If you have fruit trees make sure you pick or dispose of ripe fruit and clean up any spoiled fruit that may collect at the base of the trees.
- Clean up leaves and brush and don’t leave them in piles around your property.
- Store your birdseed in secure containers and don’t leave birdseed in your feeders overnight.
- Bring in your pet’s food and water dishes at night.
- Store food in airtight containers.
- Dispose of your garbage regularly and use cans that have secure lids.
If you suspect a wildlife problem, contact a professional wildlife control company. A wildlife removal expert will inspect your home to identify the animal nuisance, determine where they are getting in, remove them, and prevent the wildlife from getting into your home in the future. They can also inform you of any existing damage or contamination and provide you with a recommendation for repairs or clean-up.
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Fall is here! Football has started, bonfires are lit, and the weather is bringing more people outside. Though now is the time for all the Fall fun, you aren’t the only one enjoying this weather. Those snakes that slither through the tall grass and the woods of your backyard also appreciate this time of year! They can be intimidating creatures, but they also shouldn’t draw too much concern from the average person.
In Georgia it is illegal to kill certain snakes, punishable with fines of up to $1000 and/or up to one year in jail. This shouldn’t be an issue for most of us, however, because snakes want to avoid us just as much as we want to avoid them. Did you know that most snakes in Georgia are non-venomous with only six being venomous?
Let’s touch on these 6 venomous species of snakes and how you can tell which is which:
Eastern Coral Snake: This snake is easily recognized. You can tell them apart by the red and black segments on their body separated by yellow rings. Unlike the other snakes on this list, the coral snake has a rounded snout.
Copperhead: The copperhead usually has a light brown to gray skin color, but they can range from rusty orange to nearly black. You can recognize them easily by the 10 to 21 dark-brown hourglass-shaped crossbands on their body. Look out for their triangular shaped head, as well.
Timber Rattlesnake: They have background skin that can be a variety of different colors, ranging from shades of pink, yellow, gray, brown, or black. It has brown to black V-shaped bands down its body. It has a black tail with a rattle at the tip.
Pigmy Rattlesnake: They are usually gray or tan but can be reddish or black. The pattern on its body resembles blotches or spots that are dark in color. The tip of the tail has a rattle.
Cottonmouth: The cottonmouth has light brown or olive-colored skin with dark bands along their bodies. When they mature they may become very dark, obscuring the bands completely.
Eastern Diamond Rattlesnake: Its body is patterned with a row of diamond-like shapes that are dark brown in color. Each shape is outlined by a yellowish border. The tail has 3 to 10 brown and white bands and a rattle.
Before snakes go into hibernation, there’s a chance you might see one in your yard or while you’re out for a walk. In a situation like that, avoid the snake, and call your local pest control company to relocate it for you. And remember, it doesn’t want to hurt you, so don’t hurt them.
Fall will soon be upon us! As the temperatures cool down we want to get outdoors and enjoy the milder weather at the turn of the season. But BEWARE! Snakes are also active during this time of the year. Most snakebites occur between April and October when the weather is still warm and outdoor activities are popular. Fall is breeding and hatching season which makes males more aggressive as they are trying to get the attention of female snakes. Newly hatched snakes are also aggressive as they are trying to avoid predators. Snakes are also preparing for hibernation or brumation (where they don’t actually sleep but instead slow their metabolism to acclimate to the cooler temperatures) which makes them more active during this time of the year. Here are some common snakes you may encounter in southern states and what you can do to keep them away from your home.
COMMON SNAKES IN THE SOUTHEAST:
Black racers are large snakes (usually over 5 feet long). They are slender and solid black in color, although some may have a white chin. They are often mistaken for other large, black snakes. Juveniles look completely different, usually gray in color with darker blotches. They tend to flee quickly when threatened. They are found throughout the eastern US. They can be found in any habitat but are more common in old fields, near forest edges, and the edges of wetlands. They are non-venomous but may bite if handled.
Brown snakes are small (usually only 6-13 inches in length). Most of them are brown in color but they can yellow, reddish, or grayish brown and can have darker spots on their backs. They can be found in wooded areas, near wetlands, and in urban areas. They are not found in areas of high elevation. They like to live under debris in residential areas or any other area with enough groundcover. They are non-venomous but may bite if handled.
Copperheads are large snakes (usually 2-4 feet long). They have a distinctly triangular shaped head. They are tan to brown with darker hourglass shaped bands on their bodies. Juvenile copperheads have a distinct yellow-tipped tail. They are found in semi-protected areas like woods and swamps but may also be found in urban areas. They are found throughout the central and eastern US, with the exception of some parts of South Georgia and the entire state of Florida. They are venomous and may bite if they feel threatened.
Coral snakes are medium sized (1.5 to 2.5 feet long). They are brightly colored red, yellow, and black. If they feel threatened, they will lift up their tail and curl the tip over. Although they spend the majority of their time underground, they can be found in pine and scrub sandhill habitats, hardwood forests and pine flatwoods, and in suburban areas. They are found throughout much of the southern coastal plain, although they are most common in Florida. They are venomous and may bite if they feel threatened.
Garter snakes are small to medium sized (1.5 to 4 feet long). They have dark colored bodies with three yellow stripes running vertically. They prefer protected areas such as woods or marshes but are also common in grassy areas and around water. They are very common in suburban areas as long as there is adequate cover for them. They are common throughout the Southeast and most of the US. They are non-venomous but may bite if handled.
King snakes are large snakes (3-4 feet long). They are a shiny black color with white or yellow bands. They have a rectangular looking head with a short, blunt snout. They are found in protected areas such as woods, overgrown vegetation, and cluttered areas. They are found throughout the southeast US. They are non-venomous but may bite if handled or threatened.
Rat snakes are large snakes (most 3-5 feet long but some longer than 6 feet). Their coloring depends on the region they live in and can be black, yellow with stripes, or gray with darker patches. They are found in semi-protected areas such as woods, overgrown vegetation, swamps, or abandoned and vacant buildings. They are found throughout the southeast US. They may climb for food. They are non-venomous but may bite if handled or threatened.
Water moccasins are also known as cottonmouths. They are large snakes (2-4 feet long). Their color varies from solid brown to yellow with dark crossbands. Juveniles have a yellow-tipped tail. Their head is distinctly triangular. When threatened they have a characteristic display with their head in the middle of their coiled body and their mouth wide open. They are found in freshwater habitats, cypress swamps, river floodplains, and heavily vegetated wetlands. They are found throughout the southeast US but are more common in coastal regions. They are venomous snakes and may bite when threatened.
HOW TO AVOID SNAKES
While it is impossible to prevent snakes, there are things you can do to avoid them and prepare yourself and your family when you are enjoying the outdoors. Check out these 10 tips to avoid snakes:
- COVER YOUR FEET. If you are going to be outdoors in areas that are prone to snakes, don’t wear flip flops or sandals. Wear closed toed shoes, preferably hiking boots and long pants.
- AVOID TALL GRASS. If possible, avoid areas with tall grass when you are outdoors. If you must walk through tall grass, keep your feet and legs protected, keep a vigilant watch around you and make your presence known.
- DO SOME RESEARCH. Check out our snake facts above and try to avoid areas that are likely to have snakes. Do some research ahead of time and find out what snakes are most common in your area, what they look like, and what habitats they live in.
- LOOK UP. Many snakes can climb trees and can move from tree to tree by adjacent branches. Make sure to look up when you are walking in wooded areas and wear a hat if possible. This also applies if you are boating in areas with overhanging trees.
- WALK WITH CONFIDENCE. Snakes respond to vibrations from the ground so they can feel you coming before they can see you. Walk with strong steps to make your presence known. They will often flee before you even see them.
- PAY ATTENTION. Look around. Be aware of your surroundings. Look down when you are walking.
- AVOID HABITATS. Familiarize yourself with habitats common to snakes in your areas and avoid them. Stay away from large rocks, rock and wood piles, areas with heavy overgrowth, or any other area that snakes can use for cover.
- CHECK YOUR CAR. Snakes are known to take cover under cars, especially if you park your car in an area prone to snakes. They seek protection from predators while still having a warm surface to lay on.
- PROTECT YOUR HOME. Seal any cracks and crevices around your home that might allow snakes to come in seeking warmth and food. Remove debris and clutter from your yard and garage. Keep wood piles away from the house. Clear overgrowth from your yard. Remove anything that could potentially be used as cover for snakes.
- USE REPELLENT. There are many commercial snake repellents on the market today, as well as several natural methods of snake repellent. Find the one that works best for you.