Texas Garden Snake 101

Texas Garden Snake 101

Garter Snakes in the Yard and Garden

Garter snakes are among the most common snakes in Texas.

A few garter snakes in the garden can be a good thing. They eat insects and other pests, so they can control those pests that harm your plants. While generally shy and withdrawing, a garter snake will bite if you accidentally step on them.

Where did they get their name?

Even though “garter snake” has been the common name for Thamnophis sirtalis for over 200 years, some refer to them as garden snakes, because they are often found in gardens. The name “garter” was probably chosen because these snakes, like the fancy garters that once were used to hold up men’s socks, have colorful, longitudinal stripes.

When do they appear?

Most garter snakes are only active during the daytime unless the weather is very hot, in which case you might see them at night.

Texas garter snakes are seldom found in large numbers. They can be found in a wide range of habitats, but are usually close to a water source. They have typically been found in stream-side vegetation or in damp soil near bodies of water. They can be found under objects like old metal, or wood, under ground, and in plants.

Are they poisonous?

If you try to handle a garden snake, it will often flail about wildly to try to escape. It will probably release a musk foul-smelling fluid from its tail and may strike at you. Although the toxins in garden snake saliva can be deadly to the snails, salamanders and other animals they eat [source: Venomous Snakes], they’re not dangerous to humans. Nevertheless, a garden snake bite may still cause redness, swelling and discomfort.

Will they hurt your dog?

If your dog has an encounter with a garter snake, their reaction will depend on what they did to the snake. … If your dog did not ingest any part of the snake, then they should be fine.

What will naturally repel snakes?

Certain plants like marigold, wormwood, West Indian lemon grass, Sarpgandha and garlic are natural repellent against snakes. These plants have bitter tastes and strong smells that cause discomfort and disorientation to snakes when they slither over them.

The bottom line is that Garter snakes are fine to stay in your yard or garden. They are shy and will avoid human beings and pets at all costs, living peacefully in harmony with you and your family. They eat all the pests that wreak havoc in your garden, subsisting on slugs, snails, insects, grasshoppers and small rodents. They also like to chow down on worms, frogs, salamanders, fish and tadpoles, hiding under boards, vegetation, in stone walls, under logs or among rocks.

If you have any other lawn pests that are bothering your lawn or garden, contact First Response Lawn Care at (214) 701-7622.

We offer pest control programs for your lawn.

 

Lawn Pest Control

Lawn Pest Control

Did you know we offer a variety of lawn pest control services from ants to grub worms? Say goodbye to brown patches, weeds and pests by calling your lawn care specialists at First Response Lawn Care today. Utilizing a 7 step program customized to your yard combined with an expert pest control service, we keep your yard healthy all year round.

How do you know if your lawn is falling victim to insects and other pests? Bare spots or irregular patches of yellow or brown grass can indicate the presence of insects or fungal diseases that require immediate attention from a knowledgeable professional. When your lawn has been exposed to insects for a lengthy amount of time, the diseases spread by insects can quickly lead to the need to re-turf your entire lawn. Therefore, taking care of the problem once the signs become apparent is key.

While most homeowners think that any DIY insecticide job will work, they could actually be doing more damage to their lawn. Every lawn is unique, and selecting the correct insecticide, fungicide, or herbicide to resolve the problem takes experience and expertise. At First Response Lawn Care Rockwall, Texas we have the skills, products, and equipment to make short work of lawn insects while maintaining the integrity and beauty of your landscaping.

Whether you want to protect your landscape against future problems or you need immediate help with an insect infestation, you can rely on First Response Lawn Care Rockwall, Texas for expert weed and insect control solutions.

If you want a healthy, lush lawn all year, let’s get started! Call our Lawn Care experts at (214) 701-7622!

Controlling Texas Hornworms

Controlling Texas Hornworms

You can find these pesky caterpillars feeding on your various garden plants like tomato, eggplant, pepper, and potato. Hornworms can be hard to spot because they blend in with the plant leaves. They literally look like a leaf in their coloring. If you see dark spots on your leaves, look underneath and you may find one of these buggers. If you don’t see them in time, they can take your plants down to a nub in a matter of days.

Factoids about Hornworms

All living creatures serve a purpose, so what’s the purpose of the pesky hornworm? Well, it matures into a beautiful sphinx moth that resembles a miniature hummingbird.

With that hook on one end, it sure looks like it might sting or bite, but nope. A hornworm’s horn doesn’t sting and is no threat to humans. If you poke one, you may be treated to a defensive response. The hornworm will rear up, looking as threatening as possible, and make loud clicking noises.

Wasps are a great ally in controlling hornworm populations. If you see a hornworm with what looks like grains of white rice stuck all over its back, it has been parasitized by a wasp. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will eat the hornworm. The wasps have a natural duty to keep the hornworms in check.

How to control Hornworms

Commercial and organic pesticides are available. Or you can pick them off your plant and transport them to another location. Remember, they do not bite or sting, and the worst thing that can happen is they will make a loud clicking sound.

As mentioned in our factoids, if you see the hornworm covered in white egg sacs that look like rice, leave that hornworm alone. The egg sacs are those parasitic wasps called the Braconid wasp. Let the eggs hatch. Then you’ll have an army of wasps to defend your garden against all types of pests. These wasps are not a threat to humans.

Preventing future Hornworms

Tilling your garden after your harvest and again in early spring, can kill the majority of the overwintering pests and reduce hornworm problems for the coming year.

If you need help with your lawn maintenance, call First Response Lawn Care today!

How To Get Squirrels Out Of Your Flower Bed

How To Get Squirrels Out Of Your Flower Bed

Are you fed up with squirrels digging in your potted plants or eating your flowers? We are hearing more and more customer complaints about the battle between gardener and squirrel. Squirrels can cause a lot of damage in potted plants and the garden, and we know many of you have gone out to tend to your carefully planted containers only to find chaos, with pots knocked over, bulbs gone, and plants and flowers uprooted. On investigation of the remaining soil in the pot you may have found buried whole nuts or shells. The squirrels from H-E-double hockey sticks have visited….

How to stop squirrels from digging

Here are a few tricks to stop these pests from becoming a serious nuisance. These work best with container gardening but they can also be applied directly to small areas of your garden beds.

The most obvious way to stop squirrels in their tracks is to put physical barriers in their way.  One of the most commonly used tricks to keep squirrels out of potted plants is to put something in the pots that the squirrels won’t like. We aren’t encouraging poisoning or harming the critters, just keeping them away from your potted plants and garden. Here are our top 7 ways to deter squirrels –

  1. Try covering the surface of the pot with attractive rocks and stones. The squirrels won’t be able to budge them and yet they’ll enhance the appearance of your garden containers.
  2. Try laying chicken wire just under the top level of soil when planting bulbs to prevent squirrels from digging them out. Remove it when shoots appear.
  3. Mix in fresh, strong smelling coffee grounds with the top layer of soil. The odor is repellent to squirrels but does them no harm.
  4. Or make your own hot pepper spray. You can make pepper spray by combining a couple of teaspoons of washing up liquid with a small bottle of hot pepper sauce and water. Put it into a plastic spray bottle to apply. Commercial pepper sprays are also available specifically for keeping squirrels away from plants and gardens. If you don’t want to actually spray your plants, sprinkle hot red pepper flakes or powder in the soil around the plants to keep squirrels away. Of course you’ll need to repeat this regularly, especially after each time it rains. They do not like the spiciness at all and they will avoid any area that has been treated. You can make pepper spray by combining a couple of teaspoons of washing up liquid with a small bottle of hot pepper sauce and water. Put it into a plastic spray bottle to apply. Commercial pepper sprays are also available specifically for keeping squirrels away from plants and gardens. If you don’t want to actually spray your plants, sprinkle hot red pepper flakes or powder in the soil around the plants to keep squirrels away. Of course you’ll need to repeat this regularly, especially after each time it rains.
  5. Bone meal is also repulsive to squirrels. It is a natural fertilizer high in nitrogen and ammonia, and has a strong scent that deters squirrels. The added bonus is that you will be adding nitrogen to your soil at the same time!
  6. There are organic products on the market with non-toxic repellents such as Nature’s Defense..  It is safe to use around children, pets, plants and food crops.
  7. Ultrasonic technology is also available and very affordable like this Solar Yard Guard Ultrasonic Animal Repeller from Target.

Squirrel repellent can be a valuable tool when you are trying to protect your bulbs, flowers and plants. Squirrels are tenacious and we know this is an on-going battle, but hopefully one of the above tricks will work for you.

First Response Lawn Care is here for you. If you need any help with lawn maintenance or just want to talk about squirrels, give us a call at 214-