Some of us go out of our way to avoid spiders. Others have a similar reaction to snakes.
According to one source, roughly 10 percent of the world’s population has ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes. It is the second most common phobia.
I’m not a big fan of snakes but, unlike my sister, I’m not inordinately afraid of them. Judy squeals when she sees a mouse. She can’t stand to touch raw meat of any sort. But she’ll take a shovel to a snake in a heartbeat.
You don’t have to do that. Snakes in the landscape (as long as they aren’t venomous) are a good thing. They keep rodents under control. And, as the old saying goes, they are more afraid of us than we are of them.
If you come across one in the yard, you should just give it a wide berth. If it seems to be headed toward the front door, try squirting it with a water hose to run it off in the opposite direction.
If you just can’t stand the thought of a slithery little friend under the shrub border, there are options … and I’m not talking about home cures.
When it comes to the most common ways you’ve probably heard about to get rid of snake, forget about them. Spreading sulfur or moth balls around the landscape doesn’t work. Putting out salt won’t work, either, plus the salt could be deadly to your plants.
Most sources also say snake repellants that are based on cinnamon, clove or cedar essential oils won’t do much to help you with your reptile problem, either.
The best way to keep snakes at bay in the landscape is to deny them shelter. You can do this by:
* Removing piles of firewood or keeping the wood stacked well away from the house. Snakes like cool, damp areas to shelter in.
* Keeping brush piles cleaned up. For that matter, don’t let piles of debris of any sort accumulate around the home. The same goes for rock piles. Don’t leave piles of rocks near the home.
In addition to denying the reptiles shelter, you should work to keep their favorite food sources eliminated, including mice and reptiles.
For help identifying snakes, you can contact the local Cooperative Extension office or visit these links containing pictures of snakes commonly found in North Carolina: http://www.herpsofnc.org/herps_of_NC/snakes/snakes.html or http://www.carolinanature.com/herps/.
* J.D. Walker’s garden column appears each Thursday. Follow her on Facebook at GardenSown.