Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Real-life nature study and combustion...

Yesterday was a very interesting day in the AAA house. As any of you who know me understand, I am definitely not a bug person, and I have a personal history with rodents that has left me with a true phobia (ask me about "the great mouse invasion of 2000" someday!) Ever since we moved into our new house a couple months ago, I have wanted to call a "bug guy". I know, I know - toxic chemicals and unneccessary expense and all that. Sorry - having a pest control system in place around my house will reduce my stress level a great, great deal, so I'll budget carefully and live with the chemicals if I have to! Last week we found a dead scorpion in our basement (thank you, kitties!), and that was the last straw. Dh called the Cook's Pest Control people, for no other reason than their catchy jingle during the Atlanta Braves radio broadcasts! We liked them very well, they were thorough and their prices are in line with other area companies. Dh signed up for the monthly maintenance plan, and I must say I am very pleased.

First, the good news: We have no major infestations of any kind, our house is pretty secure with no obvious point of entry issues. The few bugs that were seen were of the "they wandered in by accident and don't really want to be there" variety, according to bug inspector guy. With a regular maintence pest inspection in place, we should have no problems with bugs at all. The best news? No evidence whatsoever of rodents - horray!

Now, the bad news. We had some termites near the concrete, in the mulch, at the front of our house. No sign that they had gotten to the house or our porch wood or anything, but they were definitely there. Bug guy recommended removing the wood mulch and replacing it with pine straw or gravel. That's definitely near the top of our project list now! We had a termite bond from another company when we bought our house, so we will be calling them to see if they will continue to treat the house. We'll definitely take care of that one way or the other in the next month or two. Being in the South, termites are definitely nothing to mess around with! Pest inspector also found all the Orb Weavers around our house, a Wolf Spider carcass in our garage (shudder!) and a few "American Roaches" (a/k/a "Palmetto Bugs" - yuck!)

Our property is in a beautiful wooded area not far from a large lake. In fact, we have about an acre that backs up to government property around one of Georgia's lakes. So, given our environment, we knew we would be dealing with critters. The bug guy said that he found nothing unexpected or unusual for our environment, and no major problems of any kind. Small comfort, but comfort none-the-less.

Well, except for the *really* bad news. Ok, ok - it's not awful news, not really - bug guy found nothing poisoness or truly dangerous. However, guess what he found under our front porch?!?!?

Yes, folks, that is a snake skin! Look at how long it is!

So, ok, we have 4.5+ feet snakes around our house. No big surprise, I guess. The bug guy thought it was probably a "Bull Snake", or perhaps a "Black Racer". Neither snake is poisonous, and in fact will eat lizards, birds, bugs and rodents (horray), most of which we really don't want around, right? The bug guy and dh didn't think it was a copperhead or a cottonmouth (the venomous snakes likely to be found in our environment). For one thing, the copperhead and cottonmouth snakes are actually slightly smaller than the skin we found, and the skin we have has no pattern evident in it - apparently it is common to be able to see the banding patterns found on those venemous snakes still on their shed skins. Ours is rather plain - but so big!! At any rate, we obviously need to learn more about snakes! I plan on going over to United Streaming today and seeing what I can pull up for the kids to watch and become informed about snakes.

I suppose that, given where we live, we really have to expect to share our environment with all these creatures, and we do have an awesome area for real-life, backyard nature study in our homeschool. Truly, as long as the critters stay out of my house, I'm ok. Thus, our Pest Control contract! And I am very, very glad that we have two cats and a dog who will hopefully at least scare the snakes away when the kids are playing outside! Yikes!

On a lighter note, we also had a chimney sweep come and clean out our fireplace. All was pronounced safe and sound, and the boys were almost unbearably excited about having a fire. Our chimney sweep assured us this was completely normal, that he would have been worried if they hadn't been excited. He said he didn't know what it was, but all young boys seem to be inordinately excited about fires in the fireplace. Hmm...perhaps United Streaming has a film about fire? At any rate, the boys, they're awful cute! :-)


Jennifer said...

As you probably expected, we ooohhed and aaahhed over that snake skin! Did you keep it? I know someone who'd LOVE a closer look at it! :o)

Still--even I, with my burgeoning love of snakes, would have been a little freaked at finding this under the porch! The only ones we've ever found have been around a foot long. You win! Lucky you!

Leonie said...

Wow, what an impressive snake skin!

Your boys are cute, too. :-)

Theresa said...

I agree that is most likely not venomous. Looks like a black rat snake to me, but would have to get a closer look.
My boys are also real fire bugs. It is quite mesmerizing for them. And they can't just look, they have to touch-adjust, re-arrange, poke, blow, kick, or add to it constantly! Must have something to do with their "cave man" genes!LOL!