BY KIM HUGHES, COUNTY EXTENSION AGENT –
Although insect pests and plant diseases are generally easy to control in the flower garden, animal pests are not. You may have variable success with repellents, depending on your location or timing. If the animals are not very hungry or population pressures are not too great, repellents may be enough to discourage invaders.
Live traps with release a distance away is another option. If trapping large live animals, use caution to prevent being bitten as many carry communicable diseases such as rabies.
Poison bait is commonly used for mice, moles and voles. However, before you set a trap, be aware that cats and other animals may be attracted to the trap to feed on the poisoned rodent or the bait, so be sure to place it where they can’t get. Or get a cat or small dog for catching them.
Squirrels can be trapped and released using sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and raisins as bait.
Rabbits are a serious problem. They live in grassy areas and thickets, feeding on vegetables, flowers, and tree bark. Your best bet is to fence them out with chicken wire or hardware cloth cages. Inflatable snakes or repellents also may help.
Skunks live in rural, wooded areas where they feed on insects, small rodents, fruits, berries, and other vegetables. They are actually more of a nuisance because of their smell than from eating flowers although they also carry rabies. Fencing them out is a good idea. If trapping live, bait with sardines or cat food.
Many controls are available for deer, including various taste and smell repellents; light or noise emitters; or an electric fence baited with peanut butter. The best solution is probably exclusion and fences must be flagged, as deer can’t see well and will try jumping through a fence.
Effective control of animal pests is possible though your success will depend on your timing, method, and perseverance. Remember, a control that worked for your neighbor, or for you last year, may not work in your flower gardens this time around. You may need to try a variety of methods and devices, and if first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Source: Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor, University of Vermont