I have four blueberry shrubs in my yard, two of which gave me a plentiful amount of fruit last year. This past April, having survived the late frost during Easter, the plants were covered with white, bell-shaped flowers. As the flowers fell and the small, green berries began, I looked forward to another bountiful year of berries.
However, my work schedule hindered me from competing with the birds and squirrels, some of which I caught plucking the newly-blue berries from the plants. Out of two bushes that were snowy white in the spring, I gathered 10 berries from what was left. I had been beaten by the neighborhood wildlife.
Several of my friends and neighbors have complained of similar losses, mostly to deer; others to rabbits and squirrels. One friend planted 50 impatiens in her front yard, only to find a deer eating all of them the same night they had been planted.
Mammals and birds can prove to be serious pests, both on the farm and in the residential yard. For homeowners with smaller lots and limited garden space, wildlife can quickly turn a home garden into a collection of short, green stubs. As produce prices increase and incomes decrease, many homeowners have been turning to home gardening as a way to provide part of their evening meal. Trying to outwit a furry competitor can be frustrating, especially in some developments where fences are not allowed.
After I talked with a few of the IPM experts in my office, I found out a few creative ways to keep wildlife away from their goods, listed by probably effectiveness:
- Netting over fruiting vines or bushes (I did not do this with my blueberry bushes but would probably have been able to enjoy more of my crop if I had).
- Correctly installed fencing (Very high to keep out deer; smaller apertures to keep out rabbits and other small animals)
- Deer-resistant plants
May be effective for a while:
- A plastic bag tied to a stick functions as a scarecrow (until the birds figure out it won’t hurt them)
- Predator urine (washes off in rain; animals get used to it)
If you are having consistent problems with a certain type of wildlife, call your state Extension office to find out humane ways to minimize damage to your home grown goodies.
Send in a comment of humane wildlife repellents and deterrents that you have used at home or on the farm.