The area that we now know as Myrtle Beach and the surrounding Grand Strand communities was once all untamed wilderness - and it wasn't all that long ago. Part of getting up to speed like a local is learning about area wildlife. Yes, we have dangerous fire ants, poisonous spiders, venomous snakes and the creatures get bigger from there. While it's more likely you'll have close encounters with critters who tend to invite themselves into your home, such as insects, rodents and snakes, it's not unheard of to happen upon an alligator, bear or coyote from time to time. With the larger animals, in most cases, the "leave them alone and they leave you alone" rule works just fine. Every creature big and small has a right to live in peace just like we do, but they don't have the right to move in with you. Thankfully, we have this list of the top local pest control and wildlife removal services for you:

Pest Control

Pest control companies handle the bugs that bug you. Some will also take care of small rodents, help prevent mold and fight the on-going battle against termites. Here are the top companies locals call most:

The Pest Force
Service highlights: Integrated Pest Management services to take care of pests in the most environmentally-sound ways possible, top-notch termite control including CL-100 Wood Infestation Reports and full home and yard services.

Strand Termite & Pest Control
Service highlights: Termite control and standard pest control options. Also offer crawl space moisture control to prevent mold and fungus growth in your crawl space which can damage the supportive structures of your home.

Victory Pest Control
Service highlights: Discounts for seniors and veterans, standard pest control and one of the few area companies that service homes built with pest tube-in-wall systems.

Zap! Pest Control
Service highlights: Standard residential and commercial pest control services and monthly mosquito control programs from May-October, the peak season for blood-sucking mosquitoes.

Lane's Professional Pest Elimination
Service highlights: In addition to the usual list of pest control and termite control services, also feature elimination and pest control services for rodents such as mice and rats.

Wildlife Removal Services

When it comes to snakes, birds, bats, honey bees, squirrels, foxes, beavers, opossum, moles, voles, turtles, bobcats, raccoons, coyotes and alligators, you need pest control of a different sort. Most wildlife removal services seek to safely capture the animal and relocate it to a more appropriate area, as allowed by local laws and restrictions. Here's who the locals rely on for help with wildlife:

The Snake Chaser
Service highlights: The Snake Chaser is the Grand Strand's own wildlife warrior and indigenous species expert, Russell Cavender. He and his team not only remove nuisance wildlife such as snakes, bats, wasps, raccoons and alligators, but he's also a rescuer of non-nuisance species that just get caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  A passionate advocate for animals, when not relocating area wildlife from neighborhoods, he spends his time educating people about our local wild critters and the role they play in South Carolina's diverse ecosystem.

Wildlife Task Force
Service highlights: Wildlife removal and relocation services for any type of area wildlife. Wildlife Task Force also provides and installs prevention devices, such as gutter guards, to help prevent wildlife entry into your home or attic or prevent re-entry. The Wildlife Task Force is also dedicated to keeping the animals as safe as possible during the removal and relocation process.

When you have a pest pestering you, you want the professionals who get the job done right. Whether you're bugged by palmetto bugs or you've got a bear in your backyard looking for an invite to dinner, these are the folks the locals trust to handle close encounters of the wild kind.