Tuesday, March 28Welcome

Opinion | I have covered many snakes in politics. These are worse.

(Washington Post staff illustration; iStock image)


My wife and I knew we were on an adventure when we recently purchased a Fixer Upper in rural Virginia. Even after it closed, previous residents refused to evict.

There were no two ways about it. We were dealing with real snakes.

Found 6 snake skins in the basement. In the attic he found 23 snake skins. One of them was 6 feet long. To make matters worse, one of his skins in the attic belonged to Copperhead, a poisonous viper whose bite will surely ruin your day.

The people who deposited these skins didn’t dare show up, but they had a way of letting us know they were still there. I was waiting for the perfect skin.

As a political reporter, I have observed many snakes in my career. But in the countryside, people actually like critters. A neighbor told me that the common black snake is a sign of good luck. ,” one person explained. (This does not take into account Copperhead’s skin in the attic.)

This neighbor assured me that the black snakes would keep to themselves – “except in the spring when they can be found climbing trees and feasting on their young.” I made it a point to keep the city safe until the end of the Snake in Tree season this spring. In addition to climbing trees, you can also climb houses.

My own herpetology education comes largely from the 2006 flop Snakes on a Plane. In this work, the creature falls from an overhead compartment wearing an oxygen mask.now i Imagine them doing the same from the recessed lights above my bed.

The nursery rhyme, “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” explains how my house became something akin to the National Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center. Snakes go inside to eat mice, eat spiders, eat flies, and enjoy the damp environment in my basement.

I recently went there with an electrician who was checking the air handler. “Have you seen Raiders of the Lost Ark?” he asked after shining a flashlight on something moving in a dark corner. He was referring to the opening scene with the tarantula.

In fact, I mostly have wolf spiders, but I can’t rule out a black widow or two. Mud daubers (a species of wasp) make homes in garages (which have mouseholes large enough to accommodate a dachshund), much like the bird family. A bird settled in the attic. A carpenter bee occupies a barn. Yellow jackets nest on the ground along driveways. Deer ticks are so common that locals keep doxycycline on hand for frequent bites. Intruders such as spotted lanternflies and emerald ashborers wreak havoc on local ecosystems.

And there are termites everywhere. it should be so.termite belong to in the forest. But if you build a wooden house in that forest, they will eventually find you. “Of course, I say that with 100% confidence,” warned her Dini Miller, an entomologist at Virginia Tech.

I asked Miller’s colleague Danielle Frank, director of the pesticide program at Virginia Tech, what to do with my snakes, rats and miscellaneous insects. The first step after identifying and monitoring the creatures is to “determine the threshold,” he said. In other words, it determines how much damage and pest populations can be tolerated.

As for the toxic copperheads in my house, I’ve calculated a tolerance limit and it’s exactly zero. is not much higher.

Frank told me not to waste time on electronic deterrents or herbal remedies. and didn’t admit it smells like a Christmas store all year round.) It’s impractical to trap them. And killing them is inhumane. The way to get the snakes out was to get the rats out.

Tony Sfred, director of the Virginia Pest Control Society who lives in the area, kindly toured my home to assess the situation. A mouse just caught with a snap trap. Dead mouse on the second floor. rat feces. Dachshund size mouse hole. bird’s Nest. Clustering flies. wolf spider. Mud. “It’s been worse,” he reported. I don’t want to think about what horror those eyes must have seen.

I followed his instructions. I plugged the holes in the basement walls, covered the vents with mesh cages, and removed the rotten insulation. Next are the plastic “vapor barriers” and dehumidifiers.

But I’m also working on threshold tolerance. “You’ll get black snakes from time to time. It’s just a fact,” he advised me. “You will have field mice. You are in the country.”

And what if one of the black snakes chased one of the field mice into my bedroom? He suggests placing a wet towel on the floor and waiting for the snake to wrap itself in it before removing it.

But I have another plan. If you spot a snake in your bedroom, immediately sign a trust deed to the crouching reptile and flee to the city. I will never leave that concrete cocoon again.

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