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Clues to determine and deter unwanted animals in your yard and garden

When it comes to sleuthing out just what critter is munching on your spring garden, you may feel like your partnership with Mother Nature is as contentious as any that ever graced the big, or small, screen.

After all, how are you supposed to fight the crime of a decimated garden if you can’t identify the suspect who’s been devouring your daylilies?by: SUBMITTED - Deer are notorious for destroying gardens and landscape. Ragged bites on vegetation, typically a foot above ground, are indications they are the culprits of damage.

And while Mother Nature may happily grace your garden with rain, warmth and sunshine, she may not always be on the same team when it comes to keeping critters out of your gardens and landscapes. Foraging pests can destroy your yard, literally overnight.

It is possible to thwart garden thieves, but first you have to know what animals have been dining on your plants and shrubs. Once you’ve identified the culprits, you can settle on effective animal repellents that will persuade pests to leave your garden alone. Here are some facts to get your detective work underway:

Devouring deer — Ragged bites, typically a foot or more above the ground indicate deer damage. Deer are notorious for devouring gardens and landscapes.

Ravenous rabbits — If plant damage is low to the ground, a few inches above the soil, and includes stems clipped cleanly at an angle, you’re probably dealing with rabbits. If you don’t want bunnies nesting and raising families near your garden, remove brush and other debris that could provide them with shelter.

Voracious voles — When flower bulbs disappear from the ground or plant roots go missing, chances are you have voles, which are mouse-like creatures that burrow underground and that are highly destructive to gardens. Exit holes are further indications that voles are tunneling under your garden. Teeth marks around the base of trees, droppings or trails in the grass can also indicate the presence of voles.

Greedy groundhogs — Mounds of dirt beside burrow entrances are a sure sign of groundhogs, a garden pest that eats just about every type of green plant. Groundhogs can destroy a garden. These solitary herbivores live in burrows underground.

Capricious chipmunks — The on-screen antics of Chip and Dale might charm your children, but the presence of chipmunks in your garden is nothing but bad news. Damage to flower bulbs, plant shoots and leaves, uprooted plants and dug-up roots are all signs you have chipmunks. Their underground burrows may be a challenge to spot since the entrances are usually only about 2 inches in diameter and not surrounded by noticeable dirt mounds. You can curtail their activity by removing yard debris where chipmunks hide.

Salacious squirrels — While you might think of them as mostly the enemy of anyone with a bird feeder, squirrels can also cause damage to gardens. They live in colonies, digging underground tunnels and mounds in grassy areas and around trees that can lay waste to gardens and landscapes.

Once you’ve identified the culprits assaulting your garden, you’ll need the right tools to take care of them. Most traditional pest-control measures, row covers, netting, noise deterrents, predator urine or even human hair strewn around the yard, simply don’t work. Fences can do the job, but they’re expensive and you may live in a community that restricts the type and height of fences you can erect.

Some small animal repellents, however, do work.




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