There’s nothing more frustrating than putting your heart and soul (plus a solid chunk of your bank account) into landscaping only to have pests destroy it. Here in Florida, we must be ever pest-vigilant, since we seem to get everything from chinch bugs to armadillos.
Deer, rabbits, snails, slugs, caterpillars, worms and insects can wreak havoc on lawns, gardens, trees, flowers and shrubbery in no time. To keep your landscaping intact, you should first make it less attractive to pests. Seal crawl spaces, drain water, cover compost piles, clean up bird seed and eliminate grassy areas that could make good bedding.
Another way to keep pests away is to attract their natural predators into your yard. Your approach may vary depending on the type of pest you’re dealing with. For example, aphids are the prey of ladybugs and lacewings, while ground-dwelling slugs fear lizards, toads and the harmless black racer snakes. Black racers also consume rodents, rabbits and poisonous snakes. Research ways to attract the types of critters you may be willing to live which eliminate your pest problem for you.
Total Elimination – Shooting may or may not be an option, but that involves personal choice and awareness of city and county laws. Smoke bombs and scissor traps kill certain types of pests, but are a gruesome solution. Some orchardists place snap traps baited with peanut butter, nut meats, or rolled oats along mouse runways to catch and kill them. A bait of vitamin D is available. It causes a calcium imbalance in the animals and they will die several days after eating the bait. A more humane and holistic approach is to figure out how to coexist with wildlife.
Poisoning - There are poison baits that can be effective, but they may pose a danger to pets and/or the eco-system. Coffee grounds can be a natural alternative, since wide ranges of pests don’t like the smell of coffee, with the bonus of added nitrogen. Flour, salt, beer is toxic to insects, slugs and snails.
Repellents –Visual, such as high powered motion lights and auditory scare devices can be used to repel animals. Scarecrow sprinklers look like regular lawn sprinklers, except they have a battery-powered motion sensor. Anything that gets in the path of the sensor gets a sudden and intense blast of water. Strong scents such as garlic or pepper spray work wonders. Deer don’t like strong odors like bars of scented soap and cheap perfume. Staking bars of Irish Spring has been known to keep them at bay. Granulated containers of fox or coyote urine can discourage rabbits. Many aromatic herbs, like yarrow, citronella, mint, fennel, catnip, basil, and lemongrass are natural deterrents for garden pests from aphids to potato beetles. As an added bonus, some of these herbs also attract the predators that keep pests under control.
Keep ‘Em Out- For pests like deer and rabbits, blocking access by fencing or cover may be the only real option. Raised beds stop smaller animals. Creeping pests like slugs, snails and caterpillars approach your plants from the ground – so make it a dangerous place. Spread crushed eggshells beneath the targeted plants and creepy-crawlies will move along. Barriers and bushes are another alternative.
Trapped – Trap and release is an additional kind solution if you are dedicated. Some counties will offer traps free of charge.