Mice and voles and deer – oh my!
SUMMIT COUNTY – Keeping pests – from voles to deer – out of vegetable and flower gardens isn’t as easy as one might think. And if a critter is hungry enough, it doesn’t matter anyway, landscaping experts agree.
According to Tim Glasco, general manager of Neils Lunceford in Silverthorne, urban legends include scattering human and dog hair, used cat litter, paprika, crushed mothballs, or spraying garlic, pepper and onion sprays.
“But the problem with some of these is that they dilute in the rain,” Glasco said. “Or, some animals don’t like them, but others don’t care.”
Some plants, such as larkspur and marigolds, are pungent and can deter animals. Marigolds also attract mites, and, thus, keep the insects away from other valuable plants. Pansies and violas don’t appeal to some animals.
But if those flowers are all that’s available – especially in times of drought – rodents and ungulates will eat just about anything, Glasco said.
Few plants deter animals – especially voles, said Joyce Derby of Mountain Pest Control in Vail.
“There isn’t a plant those critters won’t eat,” she said. “They love it when people come in for the season and plant all these nice flowers and plants.”
Sherie Sobke, owner of Alpine Gardens in Silverthorne, said some of her customers have had good results by playing a radio at low volume all night.
“They think someone’s there,” Sobke said. “People come in and say, “It’s the weirdest thing, but I think it’s working.'”
Some people resort to fences – but that doesn’t keep rodents away. Others hang bars of Ivory soap in trees to keep deer away or install devices that emit high-pitched sounds or vibrate the ground to keep pests away.
Animals, however, get used to the presence of such items – including the ever-present plastic owl that never moves.
Rodent populations seem to be more of a problem in recent years because more people are moving into rural areas – and thus, there are more complaints about problem wildlife. Also, as the human population increases, predators that keep rodent numbers in check decrease as they move out of the area.
“We’re going to have to deal with that as time goes on,” Glasco said. “I never have a really good, pat answer, because there really isn’t any. If none of those things work, I tell people to plant enough stuff for yourself and the critters, too.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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