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These are dry times for Carolinas' wildlife, too

CHARLOTTE -- Behind Dave and Elaine Grisham's house in northeastern Mecklenburg County are 150 acres of woodland -- plenty of space for a raccoon family.

But recently, as highs hover in the 90s and low 100s, a family of six stumble daily into the Grishams' backyard.

The mother and four babies sip from a water bowl. The father takes a cool dip in a birdbath.

"They come every afternoon looking for water and food," Dave Grisham said. "We think this heat may have dried up their sources."

The heat and drought is contributing to other human-animal encounters.

Last week, a deer crashed into a Matthews swimming pool.

Deer, raccoons and rabbits munch on vegetable gardens.

Ducks stop for sips from sprinklers.

More ants traverse kitchen counters and wing-flapping "smoky brown" cockroaches lurk near shower drains.

"Late summer is usually a stressful time on deer and other animals," said Jon Shaw, an N.C. wildlife biologist based in Albemarle. "The drought and heat is making it more stressful. Animals are going where they can to find food and water."

Fewer mosquitoes

The heat does have a benefit -- slowing the breeding insects such as mosquitoes.

But it has other seeking moisture and food, said Ralph Killough, a retired Charlotte exterminator who has a Ph.D. in entomology.

The smoky brown flying roaches enter homes through attics. As the heat makes those spaces uninhabitable, they go south through cracks and openings to find moist spots, Killough said.

"If people are seeing more insect problems, it's probably a result of movement rather than more population -- and it's the heat that's causing that," he said.

The heat wave could have longer consequences on young birds, said state wildlife biologist Mark Jones.

Baby birds need a steady diet of some insects. The dry weather is not good for lagoons that breed those insects.

"It's not an immediate thing, but it could affect the chicks that have just been hatched," Jones said.

"But you know, droughts have come and gone, and the animals survive."

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