Most of those who had a nice warm winter have been so grateful that we didn't have any snow and ice. Those of us who have seen it before were thinking, "Uh-oh. Now we've got a major problem facing us."
We get very little snow and ice here in Arkansas, but we can always count on one good freeze with snow or ice. This year, we had almost none. I never got around to buying the four ricks of wood, I was convinced we were going to need. We had about a half rick from last year. We still have it. It never got cold enough to really need to build a fire in the fireplace.
I'm not a happy camper about it. Been there and done it before. What we can expect now is to be overrun with rabies, ticks, chiggers, spiders, and other types of insects and vermin.
I know some of you are greenies and don't want to use poisons. Some swear by diatomacous earth. Like some other "natural" solutions, I found it's unreliable. Personally, I make sure I own several cans of RAID House and Garden spray each spring. It works well on my deck plants and on the occasional wasp that invades my space. I prefer using RAID to the more expensive Epipen, since I'm really allergic to bees and wasps.
There's not much you can do if a rabid animal shows up on your doorstep and is acting a little too friendly, blind, or disoriented, except call the game & fish officer, police or sheriff. Except for one little lady who called me. I went to her house an dutifully shot the offending threat and it really was a serious threat.
Here's a few helpful tips I've learned over the years.
1. I prefer the poisonous snail and slug bait because it works. Otherwise the little critters strip whatever I plant. But if you don't want to use poison, here's another trick I tried and it does work. The drawback is it's time consuming. Taking a piece of very coarse sandpaper. Cut a hole in the middle big enough for your plant stem. Cut from the edge of paper to the hole, so you can place it around the plant. It seriously works but has to be replaced when it gets rained on enough times. Snails and slugs will NOT go across sandpaper.
2. Want to keep the deer off your plants? Sprinkle onto plants and around the plants with blood meal. I do it and it works like a charm. The drawback is having to retreat the plants every 2 - 3 times it rains or watering.
3. Keeping cutworms from cutting down your garden plants: When you're planting or while your plants are still small, cut the bottom out of a styrofoam cup. Push cup down around the plant stem and into the soil about an inch.
4. 20-Mule Team Borax. It's an old remedy for getting rid of bugs so why most people don't use it, I'll never understand unless it's just been forgotten. My mother taught me about this and I've used it for years.
If you have house pets, it just isn't an option to use any product that could kill them. Borax can be sprinkled around your baseboards, in your drawers, panty, a small dusting around the top of your cabinet. It's not dangerous to your animals or to you, and it will get rid of the bugs.
It will take care of ants, sprinkle around the outside of your house but must be redone after a rain. Also ants WILL NOT cross a chalk line so putting one completely around your windows outside will keep them out.
FLEA PROBLEMS? Sprinkle borax on your carpets and just leave it there. Walking on it will push it into the carpet backing. Also sprinkle on your dog and cat beds. Use it around the baseboards in the bedrooms, basements, garage. It will get rid of flea problems and you won't have the problem again.
And your house will have a fresh smell. It will make a believer out of you.
Will also get rid of roaches, spiders, and bedbugs. It's amazing stuff. I think Lowes and Home Depot probably carry it. The last time I checked Walmart had it too.
The warm winter is also going to cause huge problems with TICKS and CHIGGERS.
The big danger with ticks this summer is going to be to house cats. The epidemic of bobcat fever only affects house cats but it kills them within hours. Treatment can run into thousands of dollars and there's no guarantee it will work.
There are two diseases that can result from infected ticks. Lyme's disease is really rare here in the south. It's mainly found in the extreme northwestern part of the U.S. The other, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever is caused by the deer tick. A deer tick is very small, about the size of a sesame seed and very hard to spot. I suggest you google both diseases and contact a doctor immediately if you think you have the symptoms after a tick bite.
When my oldest daughter was in college, she had a friend from Utah. One day he was in an absolute panic, almost hyperventilating. "I've got a tick crawling up my leg." Any literature you read will tell you ticks are poisonous and you must go to a doctor immediately to get it off if it's attached.
Being from Utah, this kid had never seen a tick. My daughter walked over, picked it up off his leg and smushed it between her thumb nails. She didn't fall apart laughing until she called and told me. Then we both rolled with laughter. Here in the south, if we find one attached to us, we just take hold of it down by the skin and as close to it's head as possible and pull it off. Then smash it, or flush it down a toilet. If you pull it out in the same direction it went in, it's rare that the head pulls off. If you don't want to do that, putting a little Campho-phenique on the tick will make it turn loose, back out. Then you pick it up and dispose of it.
One of the most hideous things is to be in the woods or even in your yard, look down and realize you have gotten into a nest of seed ticks. Seed ticks are tiny tick nymphs. If you hit a nest of them you'll be lucky if there's only a hundred crawling up your legs. There could be a thousand. And they will all be coming off ONE blade of grass or weed. YUK. If you see them as they're crawling up your socks, pants, or legs, before they attach, throw your clothes into the washer, bathe down with chlorine bleach, then shower as usual to get the bleach off. You can avoid this by spraying yourself with Deep Woods Off before going out into the woods or the weeds. Wildflowers can be covered with these bugs from hell. If you've never seen seed ticks, go to this link and look at all the photos on that page.
CLICK HERE TO SEE SEED TICKS
Another friend had someone panic and ask where to go find a doctor because they had gotten a few chigger bites. Again, it caused much laughter. I asked, "Did you tell him about the joys of clear fingernail polish?" She responded, "Naw, I told him to go get Chigger Rid."
Getting chiggers is not a medical issue. Put either Chigger Rid (available at your local southern drug store) on the bites, or daub a little cheap clear fingernail polish on the bites. Either way, it will smother them and you'll be perfectly happy because the violent itching will stop immediately after applying the polish. CAUTION: Don't scratch yourself raw before you apply any of this stuff.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the nice warm winter because this summer is going to drive you……uh….buggy.