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Jacksonville Daily News (NC): Watch for critters during clean up

October 7th, 2010

Jacksonville Daily News (NC): Watch for critters during clean up

10/5/2010

By Jeannette Pippin

Humans weren’t the only ones seeking high ground in the area last week as rains turned yards into ponds, swelled rivers and creeks and, in some cases, crept into homes.

As residents clean up around their homes and property, they should be aware that snakes, fire ants, rodents and other animals may have moved away from the rising waters and into sheds, shelters, debris piles or other dry spots where they aren’t wanted.

“If the waterways around you flooded, you may have to worry about animals that have been displaced,” said Diana Rashash, an area agent for natural resources with the Onslow County Extension Service.

Rashash said there are 36 different kinds of snakes in North Carolina, and this area has them all. The two venomous snakes people are most likely to see, normally and possibly more so in flooded areas, are the copperhead and the water moccasin.

Fire ants may also be found in places where they weren’t previously as colonies re-establish.

“People cleaning up need to be careful where they are putting their hands, and should always see where they are reaching,” she said.

Barry Engberg, a medical entomologist with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said displaced animals such as snakes will likely return to their homes once the water has receded; but fire ants tend to re-locate for good.

They can seek high ground on vegetation and plant leaves or debris left behind by floodwaters. And they can be just as menacing in the water.

“Fire ants can create balls and float on the water as they relocate their colony,” Engberg said.

While snakes and fire ants are two problems to be aware of, Engberg said that is a greater concern for those who live closest to the flooding: mosquito breeding from standing water left by rainwater throughout the region.

“The snakes and fire ants are more directly related to the flooding itself because that is what forced the animals to move,” Engber said. “The mosquitoes will probably be more of a widespread problem.”

Stagnant water left behind from heavy rain and standing water that collects in containers and objects around households become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“Yes, I believe with all the standing water there is a greater chance the population of mosquitoes is going to increase because there is more breeding ground for them to utilize,” said Michael Ritchie, owner of Mosquito Squad of the Crystal Coast.

Not that it takes much water for them to breed.

“A female can lay 100 to 200 eggs in a teaspoon of water,” he said.

To help reduce standing water around homes and help control the mosquito population, Ritchie recommends the 5 “Ts”: tip, turn over, toss, tarps and treat accordingly.

With a tip, turn over or a toss, residents can easily get rid of water that collects in dog bowls, saucers for plants, children’s outdoor toys and other containers that may be sitting outside a home. Residents should also remember to check tarps covering cars, boats, wood piles, grills and other items so they remain taut and don’t catch water, he said.

North Carolina Pest Control

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