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Ask SAM: It's safe to put back up bird feeders
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Ask SAM: It's safe to put back up bird feeders

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Bird feeder follow-up

It's OK to put back up bird feeders, according the the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. 

Earlier this year, experts asked that bird feeders be taken down after birds began dying from a mysterious disease believed to spread when birds congregate.  U.S. Geological Survey began in May "receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs."

“The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has said that the mystery bird disease has subsided," Forsyth Audubon said. “They are no longer recommending taking feeders down, but they do recommend thoroughly cleaning feeders every two weeks.”

To read more, go to the Wildlife Commission's website, www.ncwildlife.org, and click on "Wildlife Commission Gives Update on Mysterious Songbird Disease."

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Q: I went out to my street to pick up litter, something I have to do occasionally. This time I found a pile of yard waste, mostly bush clippings with entwined Christmas lights. They were across the street from my house. I removed the lights and carried the waste to a place where the city will pick it up. How should such waste be handled? Is there a penalty for not handling it properly?

D.S.

Answer: If someone dumps trash in your yard, you are responsible for cleaning it up, said Johnita Campbell, the deputy director of sanitation for the City of Winston-Salem. 

If they dump it in a vacant lot, it becomes a matter for the Community Development Department.

“Debris that is dumped at a location other than a residence is considered illegal dumping and should be addressed by the Community Development Department which can be reached by calling City Link at 311 or 336-727-8000.”

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The Sanitation Department collects residential garbage and yard waste/brush.

"Any contaminated items will not be collected and the homeowner will be notified of the violation via doorhanger after which they will have time to correct the violation," Campbell said. “Debris will be collected on the next cycle for that location. If the violation is not corrected, the homeowner will be cited and fined.

Q: Where have all the praying mantises gone?  They used to be plentiful in the Triad area.

B.B.

Answer: SAM turned to Matthew Bertone, the director of the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic at N.C. State University. 

He said the answer is complicated. 

“First, which species of mantids? There are a few species locally and the larger ones are all non-native species. Also they only have one generation per year so people don't see larger individuals until mid- to late-summer.

“Also, most insects vary from year to year in abundance, and without long term studies it's difficult to tell how much and why.

“Finally, climate change has been affecting many insects and where they live. But again, without studies in specific species, there's no way to know what's real, year to year variation, or just observation bias.”

Last year, Amy Dixon, the  Journal's gardening columnist, wrote about the pros and cons of praying mantis in your garden.

"Praying mantis are another easily recognizable beneficial insect. These big predators are very alien in their appearance, with large eyes and large front legs. Both adult and immature praying mantis look alike, except for size. They can be green or brown.

"I have always rejoiced when I've found praying mantis in or near my garden. I feel like it's a good omen. It's important to remember, though, that they are not selective with their diet, and do not target just garden pests. They will eat other beneficials, as well as other praying mantis."

Email: AskSAM@wsjournal.com

Online: journalnow.com/asksam

Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101

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