HER Pets

Calmer ways to deal with wildlife, in­sects

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - By Lind­sey Wells

Imag­ine sit­ting on your porch on a beau­ti­ful spring or sum­mer morning, sip­ping your cof­fee and en­joy­ing the peace and quiet, when out of the cor­ner of your eye you see move­ment in your garden — a deer help­ing it­self to the crops that you spent days work­ing to plant.

Though your first im­pulse upon see­ing a pest wreak­ing havoc on your garden may be any­thing but calm and peace­ful, there are bet­ter op­tions to con­sider.

Be­ing dili­gent and chang­ing your meth­ods of­ten are what Gar­land County Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion Agent Allen Bates says are the No. 1 ways to keep wildlife and in­sects out of your garden.

“The main point I want to make is that noth­ing is a cure-all. You do have to change your meth­ods up of­ten, maybe ev­ery other week or two,” he said.

Be­cause deer are highly sen­si­tive to smell, Bates said one method they sug­gest is us­ing hu­man hair.

“We go to the beauty shops and the bar­ber shops and we get hu­man hair and put it in some ny­lon stock­ings and hang it around the garden,” Bates said. “If the deer smell some type of hu­man ac­tiv­ity, that will de­ter them for a while.”

An­other method he rec­om­mends is hang­ing Ir­ish Spring soap around the garden, as it con­tains some­thing that deer are re­pulsed by, or hang­ing up your work clothes or any other item that has a hu­man scent.

Bates said you can use other re- pel­lents that emit sul­fur odors, like those found in egg prod­ucts, but those prod­ucts don’t seem to work as well as other de­ter­rents.

An­other way, and per­haps the most ef­fec­tive way to keep deer at bay is to use phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers around your garden, such as elec­tric fences and chicken wire.

“Elec­tric fences work with deer and you don’t re­ally have to put them up that high if you stag­ger them. What I mean is set one fence up, maybe 3-4 feet high, and then move in to­ward your garden an­other cou­ple of feet and set an­other one up about 6-8 feet high,” Bates said. “Deer have very poor depth per­cep­tion. They’ll get stung by that wire once or twice on that fence, and if they try to jump the first one, they’ll hit the sec­ond one. They have very bad depth per­cep­tion so that works as far as ex­clu­sion.”

Other varmints of­ten seen in gar­dens are rac­coons, rab­bits, squir­rels and go­phers. While scent de­ter­rents will work with these types of pests, vis­ual and au­di­tory scare tac­tics can also be used.

Some of the meth­ods Bates sug­gests in­clude plac­ing so­lar lights around the garden or set­ting up a ra­dio and let­ting the noise and vol­ume de­ter the an­i­mals. But, be­cause these crit­ters are adapt­able, they will quickly learn whether a repet­i­tive noise or sight poses a real threat and will be­gin to ig­nore it.

“Some peo­ple will use those mo­tion sen­sors at­tached to a wa­ter hose so when the an­imal comes up, their move­ment will set off the wa­ter sprin­klers,” he added.

When it comes to in­sects, squash bugs and tomato horn worms are among the most of­ten-seen bugs in gar­dens in this area.

“One of the main things you can do if you’re a home­owner is lay a board or some­thing down be­tween your rows and, dur­ing the night, these squash bugs will ac­cu­mu­late un­der that board. First thing in the morning you can turn it over and dis­pense of them. That’s kind of a nat­u­ral, or­ganic con­trol,” Bates said.

Be­cause squash bugs lay their eggs in a row on the lower side of the squash plant leaves, gar­den­ers can sim­ply check the leaves daily, pick the eggs off and dis­pose of them by hand. This method ap­plies to most in­sects.

“A lot of peo­ple will pick them off and drop them in some soapy wa­ter in a con­tainer and that will kill them,” Bates said.

If the above meth­ods don’t seem to be work­ing, Bates rec­om­mends us­ing or­ganic pes­ti­cides or in­sec­ti­ci­dal soaps.

“For cater­pil­lars, a very good, or­ganic prod­uct is BT. It’s Bacil­lus Thuringien­sis, but BT is just a lot eas­ier to say. BT, I be­lieve, is made from bac­te­ria and works very good on cater­pil­lars. Spinosad is an­other that works very good on in­sects,” he said.

Pre-mixed in­sec­ti­ci­dal soaps can be found at any big box store, or a con­cen­trate can be pur­chased and self-mixed, but Bates cau­tions any­one who mixes the so­lu­tion them­selves to be care­ful about over-ap­ply­ing the soap into the wa­ter as that can cut off the pho­to­syn­the­sis in the plants.

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