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Knowledge helps replace fear of snakes  

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Some of the folk remedies discredited included such things as sulfur and mothballs. In all, the snakes ignored sulfur, mothballs, gourd vines, cedar oil, bird tanglefoot, lime, cayenne pepper spray, coal tar and creosote concoctions, wood smoke and the musk of the Eastern king snake.

Southcoast Allergy Niceville

Some of the most frightened people I’ve spoken with over the phone as an Extension agent have been people that have come in contact with snakes.

The following information from Jeff Jackson, former Extension wildlife biologist, may help replace some fear of snakes.

Jackson says that many folk remedies to make snakes turn tail and slink away simply do not work. But the good news is that snakes weren’t really out to get you in the first place.

Jackson cites a North Carolina State study that tested common beliefs about ways to repel snakes and found none of them effective. Some of the folk remedies discredited included such things as sulfur and mothballs. In all, the snakes ignored sulfur, mothballs, gourd vines, cedar oil, bird tanglefoot, lime, cayenne pepper spray, coal tar and creosote concoctions, wood smoke and the musk of the Eastern king snake.

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So how do you keep snakes out of your yard?

“It depends on where you are,” Jackson says. “You have to think, what are the odds of finding a snake here?” “Snakes go wherever there is suitable habitat and adequate food,” he says.

“But for the person who goes out into a natural environment and cuts a hole in it and builds a house and plants grass, there’s nothing I know that can keep an occasional snake from blundering into the yard.”

Among the things that will help are keeping the grass mowed and moving the rock garden, compost heap and woodpile. “Look at it this way: Good habitat for a snake determines where it will stop, eat and stay,” he says.

“Now, if a rat snake is wandering across your yard and finds a lovely storage building and Rover’s food is out there — supporting a few mice — well, it might just make a home there.”

Sometimes, he concedes, a venomous snake comes into an area that presents a danger to people and needs to be eliminated. Florida does have 46 native snake species but only six are venomous. Beyond the rattlesnakes (pygmy, timber and Eastern diamondback), cottonmouths, copperheads and coral snakes, though, are 40 native, nonvenomous kinds that often get clobbered because people identify them only as snakes.

“Get rid of the food and cover that might attract snakes into your yard,” he says. “And then if one does happen to wander into the yard, just let it go on its way.”

More information on Florida snakes is available from the below links and from the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_snakes, http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/dealing_with_snakes.shtml, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw229

Plant Clinic

The June plant clinic will be held Friday, June 9 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Fort Walton Beach at the Okaloosa County Extension building, 127 W. Hollywood Blvd.

To participate, bring a fresh sample of the weed, plant, insect, etc., that you’d like diagnosed to the clinic. You also may bring a sample of soil for pH testing.

Larry Williams is the Extension horticulture agent with the Okaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida. Contact Larry at 689-5850 or email [email protected].

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