Landscape professionals have been at war with pests since the dawn of time. From the emerald ash borer hiding its eggs within healthy trees to the Northeast’s current nemesis, the spotted lanternfly, remediation methods range from chemical treatments to even foot stomping. Indeed, SLF sightings have become so commonplace that New Jerseyans have been asked to “Stomp It Out!” It may seem a brutal solution, but it could be worse. Florida is facing an invasive pest of its own—Pythons!—and eradication efforts are intense.

The Florida Python Challenge®, is an annual ten-day competition, challenging participants—who must take required online training—to remove as many Burmese pythons from Florida’s public lands as possible. All while earning cash prizes for the most pythons, up to a $10,000 grand prize. This past August, over 800 people from 32 states and Canada participated.

The annual competition encourages people to get directly involved in Everglades conservation through invasive species removal, while increasing awareness about invasive species and the threats they pose to Florida’s ecology. Burmese pythons are not native to Florida and are found primarily in and around the Everglades ecosystem where they prey on native birds, mammals and other reptiles. More than 17,000 Burmese pythons have been removed from Florida since 2000.

Prior to registration, participants must complete the Required Online Training, read and understand all rules, and pass the quiz with a score of at least 85%. A full list of competition rules can be found here.

Snake Proofing A Property

Not a hunter? The University of Florida offers these tips to prevent snake encounters on properties.

  • “Snake Proof” a yard by keeping grass mowed and brush piles away from the home.
  • “Snake Proof” a home and other structures by making sure to address gaps around the homes structure and openings such as doors or windows.
  • “Rodent Proof” a property to avoid attracting snakes on the hunt for food.
  • Installing fencing to secure the entire property and help stop snakes from entering.

Got other pest problems? See Turf’s article on  wild turkeys!