Dealing with Ravenous Critters and PestsPart #5

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Abbott's Sphinx Moth

Thumbnail by coleup
Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

coleup,

After I finally gave up on trying to oust them, I spent some 6 to 8 yrs interacting with and observing (up close) wild raccoons in my backyard. During that time, many became practically pets (although still afraid of other humans). From these interactions, I learned a great deal about raccoons. For starters, they are really quite intelligent, and they are tireless and relentless in pursuit of what they want. Once a raccoon has its minds set on something, like someone with a really bad case of OCD they will just keep trying again and again and again no matter how many times you manage to block them. They simply will not give up. Their determination is really quite stunning to see in action, and once I witnessed it I realized immediately that this is part of what makes them such worthy adversaries for homeowners and gardeners.

In addition, raccoons just LOVE to fidget with things. They will break things, not because they meant to do so, but just because they can't stop fidgeting with them. They are like those people who come into your office or home, and you feel like you need to keep taking things from them just to save your stuff. Everyone surely knows at least one of these people who mindlessly pick things up while they are talking and just sit there twisting them and bending them and so on - while you either bite your tongue or constantly take things from them as though they were toddlers. Raccoons do the exact same thing. From the moment they arrive on your property, any moment when they are not busy eating, they will be fidgeting with things, anything that catches their eye. They just love the tactile feel of things - and they don't really mean to break them, honest. ;-)

Your story reminded me of yet another serious disadvantage of those motion activated sprinklers. They don't work at all during storms or even showers. To avoid the problem of having the sprinkler running non-stop during rain showers, they are designed to ignore repetitive motion of this type. Consequently, by design they are officially off duty any time it starts to rain. (Just FYI, they suffer from the opposite problem on windy days when the movement of nearby trees, tall grass, etc sets them off repeatedly, wasting water.)

Animals, being much smarter than we usually give them credit for, are quick to learn that the 'predator' that normally keeps them off your property is off-duty during storms. Once I setup the Scarecrow the deer did not touch my roses at all, unless we had an overnight storm. After every nighttime storm, I would go out the next morning to find every rose and bud gone, the deer having taken advantage of this glitch in the Scarecrow design and eaten up all of the roses the device had previously protected. (Apparently many real predators will choose to stay home in their dens during storms, so prey animals such as deer are accustomed to seeing storms as 'freebies' during which predator are less likely to bug them.) I found this to be a serious disadvantage of these devices.

That is very interesting about the bunnies. From the evidence, I think mine must have been seeking water. I haven't seen either the bunny or his/her work the past year or so, possibly because I now have 2 outdoor cats hanging around - and I keep water outside now for those cats. If I do see signs of the bunny chopping down blooms again, I will know to make sure there is lots of water out there.

Central, MD(Zone 7a)

I was recently asked about bugs on veggie plants. I don't have much detail from my friend but he seemed pretty desperate. It is fenced in and I know it isn't a rodent.

Neem?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Sevin, or insecticidal soap, or handpicking, being sure to check in the evening for beetles. Neem may burn in the hot weather, I think someone here has read.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

There is a fairly old, and big "Big Lots" in Dundalk--on Merrit Blvd. (for anyone local)

They have great 50% off sales going for a lot of garden related stuff-among them, these motion-activated
sprinklers. Also--large (16") brown, plastic saucer/caddies on wheels and...Lots of Blood Meal bags..
Bird feeders--etc. Plus much more--
I've been there twice now....Maybe you can check any Big Lots you have near you?
The other one that opened across the parking lot from the HD I work at has NOTHING like this on sale.
G.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Tis the season for clearance summer / yard/ garden stuff....if not all gone by now.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Sally: I hate to use chemicals like Sevin. I have read that Neem is ok so long as it is applied in the evening or very early in the morning so that it has a chance to dry before the sun hits it. Is that not the case?

Waynesboro, PA(Zone 6a)

Hi Everybody. RE: Groundhogs. I've lived here for 27 years and this is the first year I've had terrible trouble with a groundhog, even though I've had them around for the duration. My veg garden has a 5 foot high wire fence around it, with about 6 inches sunk into the ground. This demon gh tunneled under it and has dug a den IN MY VEG GARDEN. I've dug him out, I've tried everything and he keeps coming back. Garden is devastated. The neighbor is out gunning for him, but so far no luck. The tunnels and the digging just keep getting worse. I'm going to try the Hav a Hart trap later (thanks for idea about baiting it with cantaloupe). This fall, I'm going to have to dig out my 360 perimeter fence and reset it, deeper, with an "apron" sticking out about a foot from the fence. I also bought an electric mesh fence that I'm hoping to put up around the outside of the fence once I have it newly installed.

The thing is, our old groundhog who was living under my shed for YEARS never was this destructive. It's like we came to an agreement; you can eat this, just not that. He died last year and this new demon moved in.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Lysma

I have only had ONE groundhog here in all the years I have lived here .
That iss, pretty much, how this Thread started....You can back-track (by the links given...
"we came from here...) to Part #1 and read a lot about GH's.

I live in a development--so it is not a huge issue. The way I got rid of the GH was to
stuff rags soaked in Ammonia in the hole. Also threw some Moth balls in it for good measure..
Make sure you do this in ALL the holes he has made, as they have several entrances and exits. .
You need to refresh the Ammonia every few days...

It worked for me. never saw him again....Worth a try and NOT Chemical!

Gita

Mount Laurel, NJ

Good luck with your groundhog, and keep trying. I had such a problem a few years ago and bought two hav a hart traps. At first I didn't get anything but eventually I did. I think I caught 4 or 5 of them. Before the groundhogs though, I caught 7 racoons!! I wasn't after them! I moved the racoons to a far away area. I don't need to mention what I did with the groundhogs !! They are so terribly destructive.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

We have another new GH, a fairly young one who's not been too destructive as yet, mostly eating clover in the lawn. I baited our Have-A-Heart with cantaloupe rind and he has not been interested yet. I'm really beginning to dislike shooting them but can't tolerate them destroying $$$ worth of plants.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

From what I can tell--the ONE MAMA rabbit we saw in the Spring
has now whelped the 4th generation of little ones.
I go by the size of the new rabbits running around....
The first generation is now old enough to have their own,
WHERE is this hot-to-trot male rabbit anyway????

Last week--I was watering the tomatoes and peppers in my raised bed--
and--GOOD LORD! --about 5 or 6 small baby rabbits went running
all over my back lawn. They were no bigger than 4". I counted--
and was appalled with all these new rabbits to deal with.
They are SOOO cute though--and sooo scared...very mixed feelings....
They sure are weaned fast--and on their own hardly a couple weeks
after being born.
They are now all over my beds--Xl--Lg. Med. and Small.

Today--I saw a couple groupings of my Zinnias stems chewed off in half.
Put my ugly, green, plastic fencing around each of the clumps & others....
They WILL find something new to chew in half--I know it...
GO EAT MY CLOVER!!!!

Where are all the snakes and the hawks!!!! WHERE???
Come and get them--nice meal! tender--easy kill...yummy meat....
I want them GONE!!!!
G.



Waynesboro, PA(Zone 6a)

Have you tried trapping and releasing them? Once they are weaned, they can survive on their own. Maybe release them in a park or something? But check with local ordinances/state game laws; I know in my rural area it's "Technically" against the law to trap and relocate groundhogs.

The scary thing about all these little critters is not just that they eat gardens, but that they will eventually attract predators like coyotes, that dont stick at attacking pet dogs and cats as well!

Also...I know a lot won't want to hear this...but what about the cats in your neighborhood? They eat bunnies.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Gita- you painted a good portrait of the mixed feelings brought on by these furry pests. My heart softened when I saw a baby and mom groundhog grazing together.

with your large trees it may not be a great hunting ground for hawks. Snakes, yeah you would think you have some, somewhere.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Moon--

None of those options exist here....Somehow or other--by spring--
there are only one or two rabbits to worry about...
I have never trapped anything--and will not go through that expense...
There are NO coyotes around here--I live in a county development...
No one around me has cats.....and the couple dogs are beloved pets
and do not run around.

My back yard has 2 big maples in it--which form a joint canopy over the yard.
Hawks do not see these little bunnies running around. Maybe when winter comes--and the leaves have dropped--it will be different....

I will just have to go back to my old way and put the plastic fencing all
around each bed--instead of select plants---BUT--how I hate that look!!!
It takes away so much from the beauty of well planted beds...

Besides---the rabbits can chew out "doors" in this fencing...which i do not
find until end of the season when I am taking it all down.

I need a BIG, FAT Black snake around here!.....Gita

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Sally--we cross posted with the same thoughts...
Great minds think alike......G.

NORTH CENTRAL, PA(Zone 5a)

Smoke bombs work just fine on the groundhogs. We have used six this year and put six to sleep in their holes at night. One simply plugs all but one hole with bunches of paper, old rags or whatever. Then light and place one smoke bomb in the open hole. Immediately close the last hole by stuffing or shoveling the lose soil back into the hole. It''s that simple. Smoke bombs are sold where animal feeds are sold in my part of the country. Last half dozen I bought cost a dollar apiece. They can be purchased on line. This is a permitted procedure where I live. Our country club keeps their fence rows pretty well cleaned up using this proceedure. That helps all of see less of Mr. Groundhog.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Home depot sells them too---

Just go where all the other garden chemicals and stuff is.
Aisle #1 in our store...I bet they are all the same...

I just found a little slip of paper where i had jotted down how to
keep rabbits away from plants...

Mix 2 raw eggs with water (mix really well)--and add to 1 gal. of water.
Spray on any tender new growth they are likely to chew on.

I shouldda done this this spring! I have counted 4 different litters
of baby rabbits running around. Of course--by winter--they will be BIG
rabbits and neither hawks or snakes will be able to eat them...

Like Ric said--Most of his die of "lead poisoning".....teeeee....heeee...

Gita

NORTH CENTRAL, PA(Zone 5a)

Back yard rabbits have no wild flavor at all. In the legal hunting season the population goes down in our back yard. We are permitted several a day and a two day limit in the freezer at any one time. I make pulled rabbit bar-b-que. It would be hard to count them in the pot or freezer. Haa

Mount Laurel, NJ

I've thought seriously about the 'lead poisoning' solution to all the rabbits in my yard. Unfortunately the township wants $75 for a permit fee and I have to fill out a 5 pg form then be interviewed. They'll probably ask me what I want it for, but of course I'd tell them just to go out with my friends, etc etc. So far tho, not willing to go for the $75 fee plus probably $300 for the 'dispenser'. At that rate, it's cheaper to just keep buying more plants to put in when they eat them.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

coleus--

This past season I counted 4 different generations of baby rabbits.
The last one-made its presence known when 6 little ones (just days old)
came running out from their "den" when I was watering my cukes.
There must have been 6 of the, no more than 4" long, that ran, panicky,
all over my back lawn.
I checked--and there was a shallow depression with some dead grass
under one of my marigold plants. That's all the mama does...a rush job..

At this time (mid August) all I see is one bigger rabbit hiding in the beds.I have also seen, twice, the fleeting presence of a black snake.
It is most welcome to stay here...free meals all over...
I am assuming that it has decimated some of the smaller rabbits...I hope so.

Still--next spring--I will be putting the green, plastic fencing all around my beds
again--as much as I hate the look. I cannot get in them to weed--for one..
Bought a new roll of it at HD. It now comes in a darker green...so, less visible.
A roll 4' x 25' is only $9.97. I will cut it in half lengthwise. That =50'.

Or--I may go through a lot of eggs making that spray.....Gita

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

It's rumored that Noah had to keep telling the rabbits "Only Two". LOL
I did come home to 2 new groundhogs and a much bolder 3rd. The rabbits do little damage here, since they are happy to eat the clover in the lawn.
Gita, It's acute lead poisoning, it happens very quickly. LOL I hate destroying GHs but with 3, I would probably have enough to try something new, GH sausage. I've had BBQed GH, rather tasty, as long as it's not Methuselah, It is an herbivore, does not contain too much fat at this time of year, and is a fairly clean animal, so how can it be unhealthy?
I've most always believed that if you shoot some thing, you use it, otherwise you are killing for the killing, not survival. Not that I have to kill GHs for survival.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

at least it is serving a purpose when the meat is eaten. But hey- if flies eat it it's still being eaten. Getting too philosophical for this early in the morning.

SOmething is sampling my developing butternut squashes- anybody here a whiz at forensic investigation of dental patterns on gnawed squash?

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I just can't get into eating them. We eat all kinds of wild game and I agree that they should be good to eat. BUT................

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

The GH's know I'm home, LOL, haven't seen hide nor hair today.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Quote from sallyg :

SOmething is sampling my developing butternut squashes- anybody here a whiz at forensic investigation of dental patterns on gnawed squash?


LOL! I was thinking the same thing about one of my hostas--went out to check on it this morning and *3* huge leaves had been eaten down to the stalks, plus one was half eaten. :-o

Central, MD(Zone 7a)

I am losing hostas to voles left and right. I noticed two starter hostas (empress wu, and T-rex they only had one eye each) laying on the ground yesterday. After further inspection they had no roots. I put them in a pot with some nice airy soil and maybe they can rebound. I need to get motivated and replant all the hostas that I value this fall. I am going to try planting them in a bowl of rocks and wire.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Catmint -- perhaps deer? That is what they do on my block....

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

UMD_Terp, Isn't empress wu that huge very beautiful hosta?

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Sorry about your Hostas, Paul! What a bummer....

Have you considered planting your Hostas in large, shallow pots,
like the ones you brought to Jen's?
Then--put a fine, wire mesh inside to cover all the drain holes
and dig your pots into your beds. Maybe an old window screen would work?
Sometimes more commercial air filters have a screen backing.
I got one once on the HD parking lot--someone just left the whole used filter
there. I used it to cover my roof vents up in the Attic which had, sort of, disintegrated...

Once you dig in your pots in and mulch them--they will look just like normal.
Of course--this would not help with the deer....just with Voles...

You need to start "relieving" yourself here and there around your garden,
especially around the perimeter... or near the plants they chew on.

You could hold a beer party with some of your "buds"--and then tell them
the bathroom is closed!!! Then--soon--it will become "marked territory".
I know this has worked for some people--a woman I worked with at the HD
but who has a home on 33 acres of wooded property in VA.
Her husband does this all the time....

Just do it!!! No one is looking......G.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Off to a different topic....

A while ago, SallyG (I think) was mentioning that, all of a sudden,
there were flies all over her house....

Today--here--is the "DAY OF THE FLIES". All day today--
and also yesterday, there have been non-stop flies on the window
right above my kitchen sink. WHERE on Earth are they coming from?????
I have no holes in my screens--all the doors are shut--there is NO rotting food
laying around--but they are always there. I have probably killed close to 20 by now.
I just smush them against the window with a wet paper towel.
I even hung up two of those fly papers---one at my window--and one at my
kitchen side door--the one I never use--but no fly has yet stuck to it.
They just go for the light.....

Where is coleup???? We need an explanation of the life-cycle of a housefly....
Do flies hatch--full grown and start flying around?

Gita

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Paul, we have a friend who is very active in the hosta society, he has found using wire baskets works very well. He found small dorm wire trash receptacles, maybe 1 gallon size somewhere, less than $1 a piece, and started planting all his that way. He has had NO vole damage so far. He leaves about an inch of the basket stick above the soil line, Holly says it may have been the $ store. He has a couple hundred varieties and is a judge for the hosta society. His shaded yard is gorgeous and at the entrance is a sign declaring, "BEWARE OF HOSTAS".

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

I haven't seen deer in our neighborhood (too urban, I guess), but I have seen rabbits! I wonder if a rabbit has been visiting mine.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Cat--
Some rabbits chewed a lot of my neighbor's Glads in half and just left them.
They also chew Asiatic Lilie's stems off.

I believe they may be seeking a source of water???
I have 3 bug Birdbaths. One sits on the ground.
They could get a drink if they wanted..

They can be destructive....Here are the chewed off Glads...

edited to add that wire mesh trash cans can also be gotten at IKEA--
for a couple bucks...

This message was edited Aug 15, 2013 7:03 PM

Thumbnail by Gitagal
Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

oh wow, Gita--the poor glads! I have to say the chomping pattern looks very similar to my poor hosta!! So, I think we have found our culprit. I hope that is the only one of my hostas he finds tasty!!

Central, MD(Zone 7a)

Holly yes, the empress wu is the large one, T-rex is a "giant" as well. I was probably 3-5 years out from seeing it mature to that size, 5 foot!?!?!.

Ric- Thanks for confirming that. Now all I need to do it. I'm usually a little better with controlling them, previous years I have got 2 or 3 which has helped. I have a lot going on and definitely need a proactive solution. Thanks again.


Ikea! Thanks Gita.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I was just commenting to someone last week, that we've had almost no wasp, hornets, or yellow jackets this year. I found 1 yellow jacket nest this morning while mowing. I'm glad I was using the push mower, as they swarmed the mower I got only 1 sting. The mower on the other hand probably got 20. I learned the hard way to not let go of the mower and back quickly away so they continue there attack of the mower, it also makes it easier to recover the mower from the nest area.LOL
Time for a benadryl and the little used can of wasp spray.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Eek, Ric!
knock on wood- several years recently we have gotten a yellow jacket nest near the front sidewalk.....too close for comfort.
Got horrible bug bites- chiggers??- from going into the small strip of pine trees between us and neighbors, apparently. Dozens if bites all over, so itchy, tiny blisters....never had anything like this, but that was the only place I went that Mark didn't, the day the bites appeared. I was returning the neighbor's Boston Terrier- could she have had a case of something that got all over me? She seemed healthy and sleek.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Sounds more like chiggers. A hot shower as soon as you feel the bites, an antihistamine will help, then use an ItchX or something similar.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

thanks!

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