How to deal with two unwanted pests — snakes and ticks

Published 9:41 pm Friday, May 11, 2018

This week I received my first call on snakes in the yard. Unfortunately, I had to identify a snake post mortem. It happened to be an Eastern Kingsnake, one of the good guys. Kingsnakes will strangulate and kill rattle snakes and other venomous snakes.

The vast majority of snakes are harmless. They are very good at controlling the vermin population. They usually enter your yard looking for a meal. If you have a pool, bird feeders and bird boxes, snakes will become visitors.

Of the 46 species of snakes in Georgia, only six are venomous. Only one portion of the coastal plain contains all six. The six venomous snakes are: Copperhead, Cottonmouth, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Timber/Canebrake Rattlesnake, Pigmy Rattlesnake and Eastern Coral Snake.

Fatalities caused by lightning strikes from 2002 to 2011 was 372 or about 37 per year. Death caused by a venomous snake over the same ten year period was a total of 20 or less than two per year. Keeping that in mind, most people bitten by a snake are handling a venomous snake.

A good rule of thumb is never to get close to a snake that is fat-bodied and its head is triangular and wider than its body. The pupil in their eyes are elliptical. Never place your hands or feet where you can’t clearly see them. In snake country, wear snake chaps.

The best first aid is your car key. Get to the hospital as soon as possible. Sucking the venom out or making crosses over the bite just cause more tissue damage.

The best way to keep snakes out of the yard is to cut the grass and brush, keep firewood piles that harbor mice and other rodents away from the house and don’t feed pets in the garage or on the porch. Snakes are looking for a food source. Rodents are attracted to pet food and snakes are attracted to rodents.

Tick season is upon us. I extracted my first tick last week. The best way to keep ticks away is prevention. Use sprays that contain “DEET,” tuck your pant legs into your socks and keep the grass and brush mowed. Sprinkling “Flowers of Sulphur” inside your clothing may work but you smell like a burnt match.

After working outdoors, do a tick check and remove all attached ticks with a pair of surgical tweezers. I carry a set of “Uncle Bill’s Sliver Grippers” on my key chain. Scrub with soap and a washcloth thoroughly when you bathe. It takes ticks 24 hours to transmit a disease so make sure you remove them in a timely manner.

What is going on in Extension?

4-H Camp sign up: Junior Camp, Cloverleaf Camp, Wilderness Camp and Marine Resources camp. Call the office at (706) 883-1675

Summer 4-H program sign up is now. Call Melanie Dabb at (706) 883-1675 or email for more details.

May 16: Troup County Cattleman’s, Steve Morgan will speak on controlling weeds in pasture. Dinner is at 7 p.m., cost $6. Call ahead. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Ag Center.

May 21: Beekeepers meeting, 7 p.m. at the Ag Center

If you have any questions, please call the extension office at (706) 883-1675.