Spiders and Roaches and Snakes, Oh My!

By: Allen Lyle

One of the perks of being on television is the many invitations you get to do all kinds of crazy and fun things. Several years ago when I was anchoring the morning news program on our local NBC affiliate, I was invited to this out-of-the-way zoo in the sleepy little town of Wilmer, Alabama. I’ve always been a nature lover, but apparently it wasn’t my day to be a friend of the animal kingdom. I should have known better when the director of the zoo said, “Oh, you can go in there with the lion. He won’t do anything.”

Did the red flags start waving wildly in my brain? Of course not. My right calf wound up locked in the lion’s mouth, and I had to use my camera tripod to knock him off. Being the consummate actor–the show must go on and all that jazz–I limped out of the cage with a few holes in my pants and a leg that would turn the most interesting shade of blue then yellow, and was led to the reptile barn.

Again, where are the red flags? A couple of rather large snakes were draped over my shoulder. This isn’t a big deal, because snakes don’t really bother me. However, the two snakes they chose turned out to be members of opposing gangs, because the minute they locked eyes on each other, they started hissing, spitting and striking at each other . . . with my head in the middle of the action.

Eventually I made it out of the zoo with most of my appendages and clothing intact. Did I learn a lesson? Well, snakes still don’t really bother me, but I steer clear of lions these days.

All that was just a cool true-life story to lead into a question Danny and I were asked this past week on the radio show. “How do I keep snakes out of my yard?” The question came up as to whether or not sulfur is an effective snake repellent. This is one of those way-back-before-there-was-television remedies that your great grandfather told you about. But the truth is, sulfur won’t do a thing to repel snakes. In fact, they’ll slither right through it and get the powder all under their scales, which does nothing more than really irritate them.

Now be honest . . . if you don’t like snakes in your normal everyday world, how do you think you’d like a snake that’s really ticked off?

If you want to treat the perimeter of your house, look for liquid called naphthalene. This is the stuff you find in mothballs, but you can purchase it in liquid form. Finding a supplier may be a challenge, but it’s possible. If you have a crawlspace, scatter a few mothballs underneath. Just make certain you don’t put the mothballs out in the yard where a child can find it and mistake it for candy.

Another common question we get deals with other unwanted pests like spiders and roaches. As far as spiders go, again, they don’t bother me. I catch them and put them outside. But roaches are another story. I’ll run screaming like a little girl. I hate those things.

Here in Mobile, the roaches are so big you have to look twice to make sure it’s not a Chihuahua walking across the floor. I have one of those ultrasonic plug-in repellents and, while nothing I know of works 100%, I’m pretty happy with it. I may see a roach two or three times a year. Same with spiders.

There’s also the plug-in type that claims to use your home’s electrical wiring to repel roaches. It somehow creates a pulsing effect that works like the ultrasonic units. Admittedly, I’ve never used them but it’s something we’re going to test very soon and share the results with you in one of our upcoming episodes in the 12th season of Today’s Homeowner.

In the meantime, I’ve been invited to experience the thrill of swimming with a great white shark. Sounds pretty safe. After all, I don’t see any red flags . . . .

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