Valentine’s Day is approaching, which means love is in the air — and hopefully that’s all you’re smelling.
Skunk mating season in North Carolina usually begins during the second week of February and runs through mid-April, according to Triangle Wildlife Removal. That means male skunks are preparing to chase female skunks, while leaving behind an unmistakable scent in the process.
There are two species of skunks in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Wildlife Federation:
- The striped skunk
- The spotted skunk
While spotted skunks are mostly found in the western part of the state, striped skunks are present in nearly every county, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says.
The striped skunk has the ability to “spray a yellowish, nauseating musk” from glands in its butt that can cause temporary blindness and leave behind a putrid smell, according to N.C. Wildlife.
Here’s what to know about when skunks spray, how to keep them away from your home and what to do if you get sprayed.
When do skunks spray?
Skunks, which are mostly nocturnal animals, typically spray in situations when they feel threatened, such as when they see a person or animal approaching, N.C. Wildlife says.
The agency recommends leaving skunks alone if you come across them, and allowing them to leave the area on their own.
Are skunks beneficial to the ecosystem?
Yes, skunks have a job to do, which is another reason to leave them alone if you cross one.
“Skunks benefit the ecosystem, and people, by consuming a large number of pests including mice, voles, moles, beetles, worms and grubs,” says N.C. Wildlife.
How to keep skunks away from your home
Though skunks are mostly found in the woods, they can pop up in suburban areas if there are food sources or places to hide, N.C. Wildlife says.
Here are some tips on how you and your pets can avoid encounters with skunks, according to N.C. Wildlife:
Secure your trash in tight-fitting containers, and clean up any food residue on grills and near your house.
Feed your pets indoors.
Use bird feeders designed to keep bird seed off the ground.
Close off crawl spaces, and openings underneath porches, decks and sheds.
Check your yard at night for skunks before letting your pet go outside
Striped skunks can be hunted year-round, but you should check to see if local ordinances in your town restrict the discharge of firearms before hunting, N.C. Wildlife recommends.
What to do if you get sprayed by a skunk
According to N.C. Wildlife, if you or your pet are sprayed by a skunk, you can mix the following ingredients and spray the affected area to get rid of the smell:
You should not premix or store the mixture, since the solution could explode, N.C. Wildlife says.
Fact or fiction? Contrary to popular belief, tomato products do not get rid of skunk smell, according to Healthline.
“These products may help mask odor, but they do not oxidize or destroy the thiols or thioacetates that cause them,” Healthline says.