Wednesday, October 31st, 2012...5:16 am

Is there an eco-friendly way to repel woodchucks?

Family Dinner by anoldent

In June, TheGardenLady filled two huge planters with flowers to decorate the deck for an upcoming party. I planted the thriller and filler plants in the urns and my spiller plant was the ornamental sweet potato vine. The planters looked pretty and the spiller plants happily spilled down the sides of the urns and started vining up the side of the deck. I was so pleased with the look.

I was pleased, that is, until the other day when I noticed that the leaves of one of the vines were completely missing. I wondered what could have eaten the leaves so completely from one urn but not on the vine in the other urn. I didn’t think slugs or snails could have eaten the entire leaves- I had never seen slugs or snails on the vines but had seen some of the leaves riddled with holes. This was different. Now there was not a leaf on one of the vines. Since it is fall, I wasn’t worried about losing the annual plants. But I was mighty curious to find out what animal was dining on my sweet potato vines.

It couldn’t be squirrels. My property has many nut trees- black walnuts and hickory nut trees- as well as oak trees with all their acorns, so my property has lots of squirrels.  I watch the squirrels playing on the deck every day but I have never seen squirrels eat the sweet potato vine. (They do eat the Christmas or Easter cactus that I leave out on the deck over the summer. But they don’t start eating the cactus until the late fall- if I don’t bring the plants into the house soon enough. )

Finally today I learned which animal was eating my sweet potato vine, It was one of the cutest animals on my property but one of the major pests of gardeners and farmers. It was my woodchuck. I was sitting eating lunch in my kitchen when he (I hope it is a solitary he) came up on the deck and started eating the leaves on the second sweet potato vine. I guess his belly was filled when he ate the first vine. Woodchucks love carrot tops and sweet potato leaves. He may also have been responsible for eating my tomatoes – they love tomatoes.  This is a pest whose population has grown enormously in woods edges, fields and gardens when dogs were banned from running loose or unleashed.

TheGardenLady wrote about this woodchuck before. I told my readers that my property is filled with animals and ThisGarden Lady has almost every problem other gardeners have. I enjoy these wild animals. I also enjoy my plants. I would love both to live harmoniously. I refuse to use anything toxic or lethal to get rid of the animals. I had hoped that the rotten egg smell that is the main ingredient of Liquid Fence would help. Their product that I use religiously deters deer and rabbits. They sell sprays that deter other animals. But when I called the Liquid Fence company to see if they had an eco-safe  product that would deter woodchucks, they told me they did not.

Then I read that “No products are currently registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as woodchuck repellents. Studies in Connecticut have shown that some commercial deer and rabbit repellents, as well as some insecticides thought to have repellent properties, were generally ineffective at preventing woodchuck feeding on crops. Predator odors may be a useful. ” (see here)

So, if any of TheGardenLady readers know of a predator odor that works, please let us know which one and where we can buy the product.

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