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Question of the Day
Lately, rabbits seem to be a big problem in the area, he says. Bobbex-R rabbit repellent usually lasts six to eight weeks, but can’t be sprayed on fruits or vegetables.
“It’s made of a concoction of hot pepper, garlic and rotten eggs,” Mr. Yost says. “It is nothing poisonous or harmful, but if you spray it on your vegetable garden, your garden will taste horrible.”
Of all the critters, voles are usually the most destructive animal, he says. The main way Mr. Yost has found to deter them is through poison. Otherwise, customers might try VoleBloc, a stone material that is placed beneath areas where bulbs are planted to prevent voles from eating them.
“Poison kills voles, but I’m always very cautious with using any poison,” Mr. Yost says. “I require people to come in and talk to me about building bait stations, to prevent other wildlife from getting into them.”
Unlike voles, in the overall scheme of things, moles are beneficial because they feed on insects and bugs in the soil, he says. Although they cultivate the soil by digging through it, the tunnels they create are unsightly and can cause people to stumble. Good repellents for moles usually are made of castor oil in liquid or granule form.
Squirrels, raccoons and skunks usually are more of a nuisance than a destructive force, he says. For instance, squirrels will make a pest of themselves by eating all the seed in the bird feeder. They will uproot the garden. Repellents such as Repels-ALL and using dried blood as an organic fertilizer tend to deter them.
“They go digging into flower pots and containers,” Mr. Yost says. “They turn everything over. They throw the plants and soil out. They don’t feed off the plants, like deer and rabbits. They just make a mess of it.”
To deter herons, using a plastic heron as a decoy might cause them to be distracted because they are territorial, he says. Raccoons may eat the fish in an ornamental fish pond. Putting a net over the pond is an option. As far as skunks go, there really isn’t a suitable solution, so far, he says.
Sometimes, fertilizer and repellent products come together, says Eric Roozen, owner of Roozen Nursery and Garden Center in Fort Washington.
“We use Alaska Fish Fertilizer,” Mr. Roozen says. “It feeds the plants and the side effect is that the deer and rabbits stay away. You can use it on the vegetables, flowers and bushes because it’s an organic fertilizer.”
When someone chooses to spray repellent, it should be done immediately upon planting. Otherwise, nothing will keep the animals away. The plants should be sprayed every week for three weeks and then once a month, interchanging repellents, so the animals don’t get used to them, he says.
Another suggestion Mr. Roozen offers: plant daffodils instead of tulips, whenever possible.
“In the springtime, when the tulips come up, the deer will eat them all up,” Mr. Roozen says. “It’s better to plant daffodils. As soon as the tulips come up, they become a snack. Animals don’t bother daffodils. The deer also love pansies.”
“With habituated animals, don’t look to repellents to be the end-all.” — —Jim Parkhurst, associate professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University department of fisheries and wildlife science
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