It's fun to watch adorable little chipmunks scamper around your garden, but these cute critters can be surprisingly destructive. Whether they're chewing up your plants or burrowing under your house, they can quickly become the bane of a home owner's existence. Traditional pest control methods often use toxic substances, but there are plenty of humane ways to keep chipmunks under control.
Chipmunks are stealthy creatures, so the first sign of an infestation is usually chewed-up plants and flower bulbs. However, many other pests can cause that problem. If you suspect chipmunks, spend some time looking for clear signs, such as burrows in the ground, often under shrubs, woodpiles, or other debris. Look in muddy areas for prints, as well. Chipmunks have four toes on the front feet and five toes on the hind ones.
Chipmunks like covered areas, so cleaning up your yard and trimming back overgrown landscaping can discourage them from spending time in your yard. Remove any piles of debris or brush, and place firewood on a concrete pad or metal rack away from your house. If you live near woodlands, clear an area between your house or garden and the woods to eliminate easy pathways.
Some plants are more attractive to chipmunks than others, so plan your landscaping with that in mind. Daffodils and plants in the garlic family are excellent squirrel and chipmunk repellents. Planting a border of those around more desirable plants can help prevent critters from seeing your garden as a free buffet. You can even design your entire property to repel wildlife.
If chipmunks seem particularly attracted to certain plants in your yard, consider covering those plants with a bulb cage or surrounding them with a protective mesh. Although chipmunks are clever and can usually get through these eventually, it often makes access difficult enough that they'll seek easier snacks instead. Using hanging planters can also discourage scavengers.
One of the more creative ways to repel chipmunks is to take human hair clippings and scatter them throughout your garden beds. Chipmunks are usually afraid of humans, so the scent can keep them away. You can use your own hair clippings if you're a fan of do-it-yourself haircuts, or ask your hairdresser to set some aside for you.
Liquid chipmunk repellent is generally effective at keeping chipmunks away, although it does need to be reapplied regularly. Commercial formulas are available at any home improvement or gardening store, or you can make your own. Boiling a quart of water with two tablespoons of cayenne and two tablespoons of olive oil is some popular recipe. A mixture of three ounces of Epsom salt, one teaspoon of Lysol, and a gallon of water is also safe and effective.
Bird feeders are a major attraction for chipmunks and other rodents, so be sure yours is clean and secure. Regularly clean up spilled seed or discarded shells, and choose your seed carefully. Some types, such as thistle, attract plenty of birds but aren't a favorite snack for chipmunks. Hang your bird feeder from a pole if possible, and choose a rodent-resistant design.
While most pest control methods are simple and traditional, sonic repellents offer a humane but high-tech solution. These devices emit a high-pitched sound that humans cannot hear but is very uncomfortable for animals, including chipmunks. These devices can effectively keep rodents at bay, but be careful if you have pets. Dogs and cats can also hear higher frequencies, so it may not be a good solution if four-legged friends share your space.
Dry repellents may be less effective than liquid ones since they're scattered around the soil instead of applied directly to plants, but combining the two is an excellent strategy. Mothballs are a common rodent repellent, or you can pick up a commercial formula at the hardware store. If you prefer a natural approach, shaking a layer of cayenne pepper on top of the soil can keep chipmunks away.
If you have particularly persistent pests, you can use a humane trap to relocate them. Choose one designed for squirrels or other large rodents, and be sure to wear gloves while preparing to minimize the amount of human scent on it. Set the trap up according to the manufacturer's instructions, then use peanut butter, sunflower seeds, or peanuts to bait it. Check it at least once or twice a day, and promptly release any trapped chipmunks into a wooded area or other suitable habitat.
Fencing can be an effective deterrent against chipmunks. Hardware cloth, mesh, or chicken wire buried at least a foot deep and standing two feet high can prevent them from burrowing into your garden. Remember, chipmunks can climb, so the addition of an outward-facing overhang on the fence can discourage them from climbing over. Be aware, however, that fences might not fully solve the problem, as these agile creatures can still find ways around barriers.
Natural predators can provide an ecological solution to your chipmunk issue. Birds of prey, like hawks and owls, are effective at reducing chipmunk populations. Installing nesting boxes to attract these birds can be beneficial. Cats can also deter chipmunks, though outdoor cats pose their own ecological risks. Remember, this strategy should be considered a supplement to other control methods rather than a standalone solution.
Regular maintenance of your yard can help keep chipmunks away. Keeping grass trimmed and cleaning up fallen fruits, nuts, and berries promptly makes your yard less appealing as a food source. Regularly inspecting your property for signs of burrows can also enable you to quickly identify and address an infestation. Simple upkeep can make a big difference in managing chipmunk populations.
If a chipmunk manages to get inside your house or garage, remain calm. Chipmunks are more scared of you than you are of them. Try to confine the chipmunk to one room, then open windows or doors to give them an exit route. If necessary, use a broom to gently guide them out. For persistent problems, a humane live trap can be used to catch and release the chipmunk outdoors.
Understanding chipmunk breeding cycles can help you time your control efforts. Chipmunks typically breed twice a year, in early spring and again in mid-summer. They have a gestation period of about 31 days, and their offspring mature rapidly. During breeding times, chipmunks are more active, increasing the likelihood of sightings and associated damage.
If all else fails, it may be time to consult a professional. Pest control professionals have the tools, knowledge, and experience to handle chipmunk infestations in a humane and effective manner. If you're dealing with a large infestation, or if chipmunks are causing substantial damage, it might be the best option. Make sure to select a service provider who adheres to humane wildlife practices.
In the vast world of gardening, sometimes the simplest solutions can be the most effective. Thistle seeds, while seemingly innocuous, can be a game-changer in your battle against chipmunks. These critters aren't fans of thistle seeds, and by introducing them into your garden, you're sending a subtle message that the buffet is closed. Over time, with fewer food sources they enjoy, chipmunks might decide to look elsewhere, leaving your garden in peace.
Nature provides in abundance, and sometimes the best repellents are those you can whip up in your kitchen. Consider creating a spicy deterrent using a blend of water, Epsom salt, and cayenne pepper. Alternatively, a mixture of pureed hot peppers, water, and a dash of dish soap can be a formidable adversary for chipmunks. These natural solutions not only deter chipmunks but also ensure your garden remains free from harsh chemicals.
Every gardener knows the heartbreak of seeing their hard work undone by pests. Enter hardware cloth and bird netting: your garden's new best friends. By covering vulnerable plants and bulbs, you're creating a fortress that chipmunks will find hard to penetrate. It's a simple yet effective method to ensure your garden thrives, and chipmunks look elsewhere for their meals.
The world is a sensory overload for chipmunks, with their keen sense of smell guiding them to food sources. By introducing strong scents like cider vinegar, citrus, and cinnamon, you're creating an olfactory barrier. These natural scents, while pleasant for us, can be off-putting for chipmunks. A regular application can make your garden a no-go zone for these critters, ensuring your plants remain untouched.
Bird feeders, while a delight for our feathered friends, can be an unintended invitation for chipmunks. The spilled seeds are a feast for them. However, with a few adjustments, you can ensure your bird feeders cater only to birds. Regularly cleaning up spilled seeds and opting for seed types less preferred by chipmunks can make all the difference. It's a small change with significant benefits, ensuring harmony in your garden ecosystem.