Dealing with Ravenous Critters and PestsPart #5

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Moving on to part #5.
We came from here:

Let's continue to vent here....As the summer progresses--so will the frustration and damage all
kinds of critters and bugs cause.

Part #4 was pretty inactive and had gone to 300 Posts. Not for the lack of bugs and bunnies
and Voles in our gardens, but maybe people just forgot this Thread.
The previous Threads-- linked to parts #4--#3--#2--#1 had all kinds of advice and ideas in them
on how to deal with these.

For one--I wanted to warn you as to just what lone little bunny can chew down to the soil, leaving bare,
broken stems you may not find until it is too late. And--I ONLY had ONE baby bunny chewing on these...
Mama is nowhere to be seen....she is, probably, hatching the next brood of "Ravenous Rabbits"

Here is what got chewed down and decimated by that one baby bunny.
***Making a note to put fencing around these plants next spring...the green, plastic fencing.
I roll it up and encircle the vulnerable plants with it, using short bamboo stakes to hold these up

1--The lower stems, as far as they could reach, of my new England Aster. Also lost a lot of the stems
as the bunny had chewed them down.
2--Heliopsis Daisy--same thing
3--Rudbeckias--same thing
4--Leaves on Oriental Lilies--up the stem--and then toppled. Luckily--I still had the plastic fencing around these.
This happened last year--so I was ready.
5--The leaves off of 3 Dwarf Sunflowers I had just gotten. Between the bunny and the slugs--not sure these will recover??
6--the worst! Stems and leaves on my Cardinal Flower....I had nice clumps--lost a bunch of stems.

Seems they like to chew on stiffer, rough leaves....I am sure I will find more----:o(
Funny thing--I can toss out carrots and stems of lettuce--and they just pass those by.
Bugs Bunny would eat them!

We came from here:

This message was edited Jun 14, 2013 9:31 PM

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Just saw a new, baby rabbit dash of as i was watering a was so tiny!

Maybe ther was a nest nearby? The mamas must abandon their babies really early.
Like--as soon as weened...

Now I have to be on guard again--cause these little ones caan squeeze right through
the 1"x1" openings if thee plastic fencing.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Saw a bunny casually hopping across a neighobrhood road in the middle of the day. Making themselves right at home!
We're having a massive ant invasion. Luckily I am well equipped with Terro ant baits.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Gita, I saw a really little one the other day. It was sitting in the lamppost bed I think the nest might be under the near by spruce. Little thing wasn't even afraid of me.

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

You name it, I've go it :o(

A groundhog lives under my shed. Now there is a deer who seems to have left her herd lives in the woods between me and my neighbor and uses my garden as a salad bar. Just saw 3 rabbits yesterday, two playing on my patio while the third watched from the lawn.

The groundhog in the last photo was eating my Coreopsis 'Early Sunrise' right under my window!

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Sally-D --I feel so bad for you!

You wrote on the Chat thread that the deer ate ALL your Lily's blooms...OMG!!!
What a shame!!!! Almost not worth all the $$ to buy the bulbs and plant them.
And--then mot get to enjoy the beauty of the blooms.

Is there nothing you can spray on them to keep the deer away? There are many "things" suggested...
Sprinkling urine around seems to keep them at bay. And--it is free....Maybe your DH can
go outside

How about "Liquid Fence"? I think it can be sprayed right on the plants...

Have you tried the ammonia-soaked rags in the holes where the Groundhog lives?
They do not like that--and, may, eventually leave....

Have you seen this yet? I have posted it often.

Good luck--Gita

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

Gita, thank you for the link. I will take a look.

I can only apply deer spray on weekends when I am home, and that has been mostly undone by the rain we have been having. Now about 90% of my lilies are "topless" :o(.

I am thinking about going to Merrifield Garden Center to get something different, maybe a long lasting type of deer deterrence. That said, I still do not know if it will work on the groundhog and the deer who live there. I can only fantasize about hitting them with a "rubber grenade" :o).

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

Forgot to attach the photo -- hostas along my property line.

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

How do you deal with this--every year? G.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Sally, your poor hostas!

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

They eat a lot of plants, but some plants will branch and still produce some flowers. Damages to the lilies are the worst because there will be no flowers at all. The same with the tall phlox. Topless now. I had some lilies in my garden, but never saw a flower until last year. So I got encouraged and bought a lot more bulbs with our group buy this year. It doesn't look like it has worked out very well. Maybe I will just grow the bulbs and be more diligent with deer prevention when my assignment in Baltimore is over. You know bulb growers always cut off the flowers so that the bulbs get all the nutrient. So I will have very big lily bulbs ;o)

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Well, Sally, one positive aspect of all this--bigger bulbs!

Have you thought of putting a fine netting around your lilies supported in stakes?

I ask--because HD has this new netting to protect their plants from the Cicadas. Something new!
It is white--and SO fine---like gauze.

Here it is....

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I have dispatched 2 groundhogs so far this year, one because he was pulling down the Asiatic lilys and eating the tops off them, so Sally your short intruder maybe causing more damage than you think, although deer are bad too. They used to eat all my tulip buds. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I have a few insect problems to address yet but maybe able to use Diatomaceous Earth to control them, since I've found that it doesn't hurt earthworms.

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

Gita, the netting might be good for veggies, but will make the flower garden look less attractive.

Ric, what did you do to get ride of the groundhogs? I used a "HAVE a HART" trap to catch one groundhog several years ago. This one has been around for a few years, and is now getting really big. I can try to catch him with the trap, but then what do I do?

This message was edited Jul 12, 2013 8:38 AM

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

They can't resist cantaloupe as bait, throw a towel over the trap, put a tarp in the back of your car, and take a ride in the country. It's that simple. Mine usually catch acute lead poisoning by rifle if they don't like the trap.

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Ric. I will see if I can trap and relocate the groundhog.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Guess what I found behind my 'cold frame' tonight = GH hole.. Gr. One deterrent is dog waste dropped in the hole. Well we got that in steady supply, now we have a handy new disposal site.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

That Addy is always willing to get rid of GH's anyway she can. LOL

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

Groundhogs are enemies of gardeners. They destroy plants, and Phi's spring predictions are inaccurate 90% of the time.

Central, MD(Zone 7a)

I have a new pest that is eating my heuchera's, I have yet to spot it but have lost two already. The last one I dug up to pot up and let recover thinking that just the leafs were being eaten but the roots were clearly the main dish. My guess is a weevil of some sort. I haven't decided how I'm going to deal with the little punk yet, I guess I'll have to see him first.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Of the hybrid morning glories I attempted to start only one was successful. I sat this one on the floor of the GH in front of the door to acclimate it to the sun, last night a passing bunny or something ate it to the ground. GRRRRRRRRRR!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I once had a Heuchera totallly sripped with just a bunch of petioles left. Never figured out.
Ric. Oh Grrrr!

Mount Laurel, NJ

The groundhogs are so destructive! One year they ate all my coleus out of the back bed, and that's a big area. Each morning I'd get up and another 6ft of coleus would be missing. The most effective thing was to trap them. I got several this way. Unfortunately I also got 7 racoons before I got the ground hogs. I moved the racoons to a wildlife area about 8 miles away. One of the racoons was grey with blue eyes. It must have been an albino. It was beautiful. Last year I didn't seem to have any ground hogs and so far havn't seen any damage this year. Now the rabbits are another things. Broken stems all over every morning. It seems especially destructive since they don't even eat all they break off.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Those ground hogs do seem to be pretty systematic in their devouring, eating 1st 2nd 3rd plants in a row before moving on to 4 5 or 6. Never bothered my coleus though. Wonder if they derive any healthful benefits from coleus?

Here is what I found in my stack of plant trays.

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

What kind of snake is that, Judy? Not black---wondering if it may be harmful?


annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

When I first saw it I thought it was two giant slugs mating! Ti wasn't until I poked it to see if it was alive or perhaps stuck between those closely packed trays that it slowly retreated further into the trays! Amazing to me how small a space a snake can squeeze through. There are plenty of ant colonies in those trays, wonder if snakes dine on ants?

I doubt it is harmful, think it is just a garter snake. Most interesting snake I've come across in my yard is the worm snake. Lives almost exclusively underground and looks like a super sized nite crawler!

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Central, MD(Zone 7a)

I saw an eastern milk snake the other day. Of course there was much debate over what it was and if it was poisonous or not. I always leave them be, I hope that one day they'll start exploring my mole/vole tunnels when they run out of chipmunks. I won't hold my breath, we have an endless supply of chipmunks.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Just so you all know, that's not me holding the worm snake! (borrowed pic from net)
I'm a live and let live for the most part (exceptions are stink bugs and allianthus trees, garlic mustard, gypsy moths, winter moths, flatid leaf hopoers and a few others.)

New to me pest pictured below Oak Moth. Third type of caterpillar eating my favorite oak. UGH

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

From your first picture, I though it was a full-sized snake!

I once saw a young Black Snake and it was brown. It had caught a sparrow
up in my tree and was attempting to get its mouth around it.
I was sitting on my porch swing and heard this THUMP as it fell out of the tree,
all wrapped around the bird...It was about 14" + long...

Judy--I KNEW it was not you holding the snake--as if it was--
I would see your 1" long fingernails....:o)

Another small issue. Do you have a macro setting on your camera?
All the close-ups you post are blurry. have you tried looking for a setting on your
camera that will give you macro? The icon for macro is always a little flower.

Looks like this. Look around for it....Gita

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Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

We unfortunately have a new resident GH. It is closer to the neighbors than us and they have said they would dispatch it if possible. I would think they would eventually get the idea, they are not welcome, but alas they see it as open territory. Bunnies we have with little or no damage, but in great supply.
The new development has caused a decline in the fox population, hence the rabbits. The cat population is at an all time low also. no predators means explosive growth of rabbits. I heard Noah had a problem telling them "ONLY TWO". LOL

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Noah didn't know about the 'buns in the oven' of the Mrs' Bunny

wow coleup i've never seen that oak moth too bad its pretty and very bad.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Hwy! Doesn't anyone else have to deal with "ravenous Critters"?

Here's the latest from my neck of the woods....

My neighbor, Olga, is in Spain for 3 months. She won,t be back until September.

In the meantime--I am tending her sparsely planted beds, most of which I take
care of anyway....
Before she left for Spain, she planted a pile of Gladiolus in two different beds.
One is semi-elevated as it starts level and then climbs higher--as it is on an incline.
The other is in a definitely raised bed. No critters seem to bother this one.

The Glads are all in bloom now (she will never see these in bloom), and some critter,
is simply chewing the stems in half so that all the bloom stems are broken and down on the ground.
They are NOT eaten--just chewed off. Some of the leaf tips on the plant are chewed
and ragged looking--and maybe eaten.

I don't think it is the adolescent rabbit that we all have seen. It would never reach the middle
of a Gladiolus's stem to chew it in half. Me thinks it must be a Groundhog?????
I have not seen one yet--but they do exist--perhaps in my neighbors' gardens?
WHO else would do this?????

Thanks for any and all your thoughts. Gita

Here's the scenario.....and the way the bed is situated...level to the right--a bit raise to the left.

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Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

no idea.
Something poked between my okra, didn't touch them, but ate all the leaves off a Butter daisy (Melampodium). The daisy was a volunteer - it's better for the okra this way but I didn't have the heart to pull the daisy.

Damascus, MD(Zone 7a)

Gita, rabbits might eat while standing on rear legs :-). That's probably how they ate all the leaves on my oriental lilies all the way up to about 15" or more above the ground.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Could it be cutworms? I heard recently this is how to tell the difference between the work of rabbits and cutworms -- rabbits eat what they cut off, but cutworms do not. That being said, I know nothing about either gladiolus or cutworms.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

The stems were severed more than a foot above ground--just below the stem where the
flower stalks form. None of the flowere were eaten--just the stem cchewed in half...

Cutworms are mostly known for cutting off the new root-stems, just below the surface, of just planted seedlings.
That is why it is recommended that an open-bottomed pot be put around, and pushed about 1" deep,
of newly planted plants.
Cutworms are gray and slimmer than JB grubs. G.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Happy, I once observed a rabbit cut down a row of plants and then disappear without eating anything. It was early in the morning at a quiet office park and there weren't other cars or people, so it wasn't scared away or anything. It just went chomp chomp down the line and then left!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

I'm not actually Mid-Atlantic - only missed it by one state though. Still I hope you won't mind if I chime in on a few things.

1st, as to the main topic, that of critters that gobble up or otherwise destroy plants, as my neighbor so aptly said, "It's Wild Kingdom here." My yard is host to (1) a heard of deer who use my property as a route from forest (behind me) to pond (across the street) daily and treat my roses like a buffet on their way through; (2) a cottontail rabbit who seems to sample every bloom stalk with a single bite at the 1/2 way mark, just sufficient to sever the bloom and leave it wilting on the ground; and (3) squirrels who dig up small, newly planted items and then leave them lying beside the hole, root ball withering in the hot, summer air. Oh, and that's not to mention the myriad birds who gobble up strawberries, blueberries, grapes, etc, and the raccoons and opossums who devour everything single apple, crabapple, peach, fig, and grape the moment it ripens.

Over the past decade+, I've tried everything known to man in my efforts to win the critter wars. All were doomed to fail, and some even made for some very amusing situations along the way. I could write a very humorous book detailing the the hundreds if not thousands of $$ I've spent and man hours I've wasted in my all out determination to win the war and save a couple flowers and a peach or two. These days, I've pretty much made peace with the situation.

The only thing I ever found to be at all successful in chasing away critters is the Scarecrow motion activated sprinkler ($79 when I last checked). The Scarecrow really did keep the deer away from my rose 'buffet', and I suspect it would also work for bunnies, but even this device does have its downsides. 1st, to cover a large garden, you would probably need to connect several to reach every part of the yard. I had to turn mine off each morning and on again each evening to avoid soaking meter readers, delivery personnel, visitors, and even myself. I can tell you from experience that a sudden, unexpected jet of water to the side of the head can be more than a little distressing. Lastly, like a pearl necklace held together with string and a clasp, scarecrow sprinklers are attached via garden hoses and ordinary threaded attachments, all of which provide numerous weak points from which the system might spring a leak flooding the garden in your absence. (It actually happened to me, and I only had the one unit.)

Second, with regard to the picture of the person holding the snake, I would just like to warn everyone that most tiny snakes like the one pictured are babies, and baby snakes can actually be even more dangerous than adults. Among venomous species, baby snakes have the same venom, same potency, as do adults and they are born with enough venom to kill a human. What makes them possibly even more dangerous is: (1) the difficulty of identifying baby snakes and (2) the fact that baby snakes are more likely to inject all of their venom into a victim. Adult snakes have much greater control of their venom and in some cases may not inject venom at all, using a dry bite instead to try to scare you away. Baby snakes lack this control.

Most baby snakes, neonates & juveniles, have entirely different markings than adults of the same species, so even if you think you know what a rattlesnake, for instance, looks like, you probably don't know what a baby rattler looks like. Neonate black rat snakes look almost the same as neonate moccasins. We tend to be less afraid of tiny snakes, but beware as a very innocent looking baby may turn out to be lethal.

Third and lastly, as to the camera issue, while I would agree that many cameras use that tulip symbol to denote the macro setting, it's not actually the case that all cameras do so. Some years back I had a Kodak camera which used that symbol to denote the macro setting; however, my Nikon, which can take pics with excellent clarity even with the lens up to 1in from the subject, does not have a specific macro setting or button denoted by the tulip symbol. With the Nikon, which was clearly not intended for a novice such as myself, one has to understand how to adjust the settings to achieve a good picture at close range. It took me a while to master it.

Another thing that will cause blurry pics on close-ups is if one places the camera closer to the subject than the specific camera is designed to handle. You need to make sure you know the minimum distance from the subject at which your camera is designed to focus. That will be stated somewhere in the instructions. As I mentioned above, my Nikon can take excellent pics even with the lens as close as 1in from the subject. The Kodak I had some years back, however, could not be closer than 3ft from the subject; otherwise, pics would be out of focus. It just depends on the camera. With a camera that must be at least 3ft from the subject, for instance, you can still take a close-up (macro) pic by using the zoom feature. But, again, it's very important to know the limits of your camera. Hope this helps.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)


That is exactly what the rabbit in my yard does, and he/she is not being disturbed by 'intruders' either. 'My' rabbit hangs out alone in my back yard where she is protected by a 6ft privacy fence. Also, my yard backs up to a forest. That plus the plethora of plants (both desirable and undesirable) makes it a happy haven for wildlife to munch in safety. Anyhow, I come home from work each day and stroll about the backyard cottage garden to see what blooms have opened, and whenever the rabbit has been there I find bloom after bloom after bloom all around the garden chopped down and left to wither on the ground. The silly rabbit just seems to sever the stems and move on w/o eating anything. I find that especially frustrating - and difficult to understand. It's like she is Goldilocks sampling everything and finding nothing to her liking.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Dreams of Spring Good reminder on the snake thing. It wasn't me holing that snake but a picture I borrowed from the internet.

I agree on the motion activated spray of water as a pretty good deterrant...My neighbor had a large patch of sweet corn protected by one. His goal was to have his own corn for his 4th of July cook out and even prestarted seeds in a makeshift greenhouse, Everything was looking good for the tassels to start turning brown and each ear hefelt seemed full! And no critter damage!

On the morning of the 4th when he went to harvest the corn, however, it was a different story. Most all of the stalks had been trampled and the ears eaten or removed! In our best crime scene recreation we figure that racoons wanted a drink with dinner and managed to knock over the sprayer to get some and then it was game on for them and the deer. Wonder how long it took the racoons to figure out 'on demand' water for washing their booty?

As to rabbits, I'm recalling that my daughter's pet bunnies ate almost continuously in their outdoor hutches. They would move from hay to pellets to 'greens' always munching on something. Rabbits are grazing animals, eating little meals throughout the day (and night, too) The constant chewing and nibbling also keeps their teeth which keep growing like other rodents trimmed and healthy. So I suspect that what looks like "nothing was eaten' would more closely inspected reveal "very little was eaten".

Also, a nibbled plant stem would yield moisture. Sometimes an alternative water source can lessen garden destruction.

Below is a blurry pic of a new to me caterpillar Sphecodina Abbottii or Abbott's Sphinx Moth. Feeds on grape vine and Virginia Creeper. Check out this persons collection of caterpillar photos (#7870)

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