Ask SAM added to shell 110518

Q: There is a heavily wooded lot behind my property. I have tried to control the encroaching vegetation by having it sprayed with herbicide over the years, but this is becoming increasingly ineffective. I need help finding someone that can assist in clearing this lot. I also need help identifying the owners of the lot to get permission to have the lot cleared.


Answer: SAM put L.T. in touch with Bruce Bailiff, code enforcement senior project supervisor with the city, who helped identify the ownership of the parcel in question and was sending out the area inspector to assist. The inspector’s findings will help clarify any details about the parcel in question.

“What made this different is that the parcel appears land-locked,” Bailiff said. “Being land-locked does not preclude nor prevent enforcement of the ordinance.”

Based on tax office aerial views, the area appears to be wooded, he said. “Additionally, the parcel is 1.79 acres. Both conditions allow for cutting of vegetation less than one inch in thickness to a depth of twenty feet from the property line.”

If you find yourself a situation like L.T.’s, remember that if the lot doesn’t belong to you, you cannot clear it yourself or hire anyone to have it cleared without getting the approval of the property owner. However, if the property is in violation of ordinances, the city can step in. If you have web access, use the Tax Parcel Viewer at to find the property records. If you have a problem or the property owner is not being cooperative, contact the code enforcement office at 336-734-1252 for assistance.

As for hiring somebody to assist in keeping vegetation from encroaching onto your property, Leslie Peck with N.C. Cooperative Extension said that your best bet is to contact local landscaping companies and talk with them about the services they offer, pricing, and scheduling.

Q: My neighbor told me she has found stinging “needle ants” in her yard. What are these and should I be concerned?


Answer: What you are referring to are “Asian needle ants,” according to Mike Waldvogel, an entomologist at N.C. State University. They are medium to small sized by ant standards, and are long and slender, dark brown to black in color, with legs and mandibles that are lighter brown to orange color.

They are not as aggressive as fire ants, but have a venomous sting that, according to an NC State Cooperative Extension report, “is painful, and on average, somewhat more likely to cause an allergic reaction than the venom in a honey bee’s sting. As a result, people allergic to insect stings should take special care to avoid stings when in an Asian needle ant-infested area.”

Most stings come from humans accidentally placing their hands on nests. NCSU recommends wearing thick gloves when handling mulch, moving debris, or placing your hand in a dark area that might be infested by Asian needle ants.

NCSU recommends using protein-based insecticide baits to get rid of the ants. You can read more at

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

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