NC pond - newbie needs advice

HertfordncJanuary 14, 2013

I just bought a property with about .2 acres of overgrown pond.

It is a breeding ground for mice, venomous snakes and of course, mosquitos. The property also has a severe wasp problem. Not sure if that's also related to the ponds ecosystem. Assuming filling it is not an option, i'm looking for ideas to make it a "feature" rather than a blight.

I also need some education on what i can legally do to it as the Army Corps of Engineers considers it a wetland.

For instance, they told me i can cut down the trees but i can't pull them out by the root.

I could see it as a very pretty place with turtles basking, frogs croaking and fish thriving on mosquito larve but i have no experience with this and no idea where to start.

Is there a practical way to control mosquitoes? Aeration?

What's the best way to make it unpleasant for snakes?

Does the pond contribute to the wasp problem?

I am in Eastern NC on the zone 7/8 line.

here's a photo- the pond is very close to the house.

Dave Silva

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First, I wonder if you have to call those things growing out of the bog to be trees. They look like big weeds to me.

Assuming you mean yellow jackets and not hornets. They live in the ground and probably wouldn't be right under the water. I doubt that the bog is a specific issue with them.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 1:06PM
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Actually, what we have is a whole lot of paper wasps. As the place was empty for a while they built nests all over the house. Neighbor says they are a real problem.
My limited understanding is that they live in the woods so what i am seeing is an expansion of territory from the woods to the house. On the other side of the pond are a lot of pine trees, a few big ones a decade worth of uncontrolled seedlings.

I do not know how ACE ditinguishes betwen a tree and a weed but i am not afraid to get my chainsaw wet.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 2:54PM
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We went through several long empty houses when looking for a home. I believe that they all had a bunch of fortunately dead big wasps. Perhaps those are what you call paper wasps. We live in the woods now, but get very few in the house. I suspect that the issue is simply the vacancy.

Most of us in this forum have artificial ponds. I think you might get better advise on another site.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 11:14AM
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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

I agree with chas, Hertford.

You didn't say how the Army Corps of Engineers came to be involved in telling you what you can and can't do with this wet place on your property in the first place (did you contact them, or did they contact you, for instance?). But generally, any place officially designated by the government as a "wetland" is subject to a number of different protections that even someone like me (who belongs to half a dozen conservation societies) doesn't really know all the ins and outs of.

A wetland also usually does NOT mean "pond." "Wetlands" are generally defined as areas that are covered in water part or most of the year, but at least parts of them are dry part of the time (I think). Bogs, marshes and swamps all fall into the designation of "wetland."

It's possible the ACE WILL let you do enough with that property to clean it up and pretty it up and make it into more of a pond. Then again, you may have to settle for just cleaning it up some, and allowing for what wildlife naturally occurs there (although ACE or not, I'd NOT be willing to allow venomous snakes to remain that close to my house). Where you live, that could include copperheads, rattlesnakes and water moccasins, I think, plus possibly coral snakes, the most venomous snake in North America (venom similar to the cobra).

You probably need to do a lot of research, but as far as cutting down the trees and shrubs, and any other "weeds" you want to get out of there, I'd say NOW is the time to do it, since during the winter any snakes that live there WILL be in hibernation and not likely to send you to the hospital. Then, come spring, they'll be easier to see and deal with.

Best of luck,

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 10:50PM
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Mosquito fish will consume every mosquito larvae in the lake and they reproduce every 45 days. I use them in all my 9 ponds and all my rain barrels they work fantastic. And get you some of these to put in your pond for clearer water.

Here is a link that might be useful: gabelmans gardens gallery

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 2:47AM
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Is there a practical way to control mosquitoes? Aeration?
Aeration in not practical on the scale of the wetland that you have. It would require some serious amounts of energy.

What's the best way to make it unpleasant for snakes?
By creating habitat for species that eat snakes examples would be birds of prey (hawks, eagles, osprey). Create nesting boxes/platforms around the wetland. By not cutting down trees including dead ones.

Does the pond contribute to the wasp problem? Wasps use ponds as a water source and as a place to gather mud for their nest building (in some species like mud daubers).A majority are harmless and only sting if you try to hurt them.

My overall advice would be to read up on wetland ecology and its purpose. I think you will find this a real asset. Also I would like to point out that there is no such thing as overgrown in nature. Everything is the way it should be its only when humans come along that we feel a need to tame things. Nature is usually better off without any assistance, human intervention usually only ends up destroying. It sounds to me that this wetland is towards the end of its succession considering that there are trees growing out of it. One day this wetland will be dry land so enjoy the time you have with it now.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:35AM
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oh forgot to mention that bats would really help with your mosquito problem. Install several bat houses around and your property and that will slowly decrease that mosquito population.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:38AM
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