Repellents, Traps and Barriers
The most important factor in selecting a repellent, barrier or trap is determining exactly what is causing the problem. If the pest is unknown, the type and extent of the damage can often give identifying clues. For instance, rabbits and deer both bite off and eat portions of plants, not just single leaves or parts of leaves. Squirrels will nip off twigs, small branches or large blooms, but leave the evidence behind. Looking more closely, if you find holes in the leaves, determine if the shape is regular or irregular. Slugs usually make medium to large irregular holes in the blades of the leaves. Insects tend to make holes of a regular size and shape. Some are so distinctive as to be a method of identification. Gnawed bark below the snow line in winter is usually the work of voles or mice while damage above the snow line is most often caused by rabbits. Deer browse shrub tops and lower tree branches in winter. Hostas, roses and sweet corn are favorites in summer. Birds will help themselves to fruit as it ripens and nest in places people would rather they did not. Once you have a fairly good idea what is causing the damage, you can find the best repellent, barrier or trap to use.
Mode of Action
Odor: A number of products repel by odor and the active ingredient is chosen for the particular target pest. For instance, moles do not like castor oil. An important point in using odor repellents against dogs and cats is that any urine or feces already present in the area must be cleaned up as thoroughly as possible for the repellent to work. If the area has been marked for a long time, it may not be possible to break the animal's habit.
Taste: Products that repel by taste work best against chewing pests, such as deer, rabbits and sometimes squirrels. The most effective products are those such as TreeGuard, ShotGun Animal Repellent, and Bonide Hot Pepper Wax. They contain ingredients to keep the product on plants through weather and watering. Others may be just as good at repelling, but must be re-applied after it rains.
Barriers: These are tailored to the pest and the plants to be protected. Slug barrier products are used to encircle a plant or area. Teflon insect barriers are usually wrapped around the trunk of a plant to repel climbing insects. Netting usually covers vulnerable plants.
Traps: Traps are useful for pests that cannot be successfully repelled. Stinging insects, tiny flying insects, crawling larvae and others are best foiled by various kinds of mechanical or sticky traps that contain special scent lures. Slugs fall into this category, too, because they can be successfully trapped as well as excluded by a barrier. Live traps are usually available at hardware stores or through the DNR.
One of the most important points to understand is that no repellent is 100% foolproof. The degree to which they succeed is dependent on several factors, such as following directions for application, as well as the availability of alternate food sources for the pests. No matter how horrible the taste or smell, most living creatures are not going to willingly starve in seasons when food is scarce. In those times, the most successful thing is often to offer food that you want them to eat in lieu of your prized plants.
Here is a brief overview of many repellents, traps and barriers currently offered by Bachman's. Because supplies sometimes change and new research makes new products available, this list is not complete.
Rabbit and Deer (Bonide) thiram
Hot Pepper Wax (Bonide) sticks to plant material through several rains; capsaicin
Bird Scare Tape/Ribbon lightweight and reflective
Bird Chaser (Evil Eye Balloon) large balloon with an eye design
Owl Decoy plastic owl with movable head
Tanglefoot an incredibly sticky substance
Mosquito Dunks wafers of biological insecticide that safely kills mosquito larvae in water
Mosquito Beater (Bonide) naphthalene
Fruit Tree Pests (Tanglefoot) biolure and sticky
Pantry Pests (Tanglefoot) biolure and sticky
Tangletrap Whitefly and Aphid sticky yellow traps
Houseplant Sticky Stakes (Safer’s) sticky yellow stakes
Tanglefoot Insect Traps sticky
Yellow Jacket Trap (Surefire) biolure and trap
Wasp & Yellow Jacket Trap (Safer’s) trap
Diatomaceous Earth (Concern) ground diatoms
Citrus Home Pest (Concern) citrus oil
Garden Netting lightweight fine net
Germinator Blanket lightweight non-degradable cloth
Repels by Smell
Mole and Gopher (Bonide) castor oil
Dog and Cat (Bonide) methyl nonyl ketone
Rabbit and Dog (Bonide) napthalene, blood meal and nicotine dust
Snake Away Coyote and Fox Urine animal urine