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Integrated Pest Management: Mammals
“That dingo ate my baby!” You remember Meryl Streep in that movie. That’s exactly what I was like the first time my garden had been mutilated by some sort of destructive presence. My baby had been violated and after all of my hard work! Let’s channel our anger. Think: Principles of IPM-- that’s Integrated Pest Management, a term you’ll hear a lot.
v PRINCIPLE I: IDENTIFY THE CULPRIT
o Mammal or Insect?
o Large or Small?
o Digger, or trampler?
o Grazer or Nibbler?
v PRINCIPLE II: ENCOURAGE IT (OR THEM) TO MOVE ON
o Fences and Barriers
o Sprays of Water
o Sonic deterrents
o Predator simulation
o Predator Insects and Nematodes (for Insects)
v PRINCIPLE III: LAST RESORT: ASSIST IT ON ITS JOURNEY TO ANOTHER PLACE, FAR, FAR AWAY
o In other words, havahart traps
v PRINCIPLE IV: ANTICIPATE NEXT YEAR’S ISSUES, WHEN POSSIBLE
o Built-in Barriers
o Companion plants
Signs of Mammals:
Large-scale disturbance of planting area (both plants and soil)
Partially eaten fruit
Mounds of soil in the planting bed.
Trails in the grass to the vegetables
Freshly dug holes
Signs of Insects: This will be for Part two: Insects
Leaves stripped down to the stem
Holes in the center of leaves
Very small black, white or green beads on either side of a leaf (insect eggs)
Leaves curled and apparently glued together
White or brown moths fluttering around
Almost invisible, blanketing webs (difficult to see, but usually where the leaf meets the stem. This is spider mites, most likely.
Most land mammals like the shortest distance between two points. They also like to develop treads (worn paths). Disrupt their patterns. Put up barriers appropriate to species: Deer need tall fences. And, in lieu of tall fences, how about Liquid Fence®, Not Tonight Deer
Wire netting encasing your raised bed is a must for Gophers, bird netting for birds, raccoons, and squirrels. Planet Natural’s Tanglefoot Pest Barrier or Dr. Fosters & Smith Sticky Pawsfor other pests such as rodents (Rodentia), moles (Soricomorpha) , cats and dogs, bears and skunks (Carnivora), rabbits (Leporidae), and raccoons (Procyonidae).
If you see a mound of dirt, knock it down. Or if you see a hole, fill it up. With pebbles (and tamp them down so it’s pretty solid. You’ll dig them up the next time you turn the soil.)
Most land mammals avoid getting wet. Get a water sprayer with a motion detector. And move it to the opposite corner the following week. Check out Contech, Havahart, and Walter Drake brands.
Most land mammals are skittish. Look into a Sonic, Solar, buzzing stake (made by Sweeney) Or, in addition to water, set up a motion detector light. These things send a “Critters Unwelcome” message in a big way.
Land Mammals avoid predators. So take a look at predator urine to soak in rags and strategically place in the garden. http://www.livetraps.com/animal-urine/cougar-urine. Yes, cougar urine. The livetraps.com site also gives some excellent information on live traps. Which leads us to:
Live trap your pest if they just can’t take a hint. Your lives will all be better when they’re gone. Here’s the website for Havahart traps. It is replete with valuable information.
Typically these are not harmful to the animals, but can require some adept maneuvering once you've trapped an animal. It is advisable to educate yourself about how to release the animal before pursuing this measure. It would also be wise to determine where you will free the animal once caught.
1) Check the trap frequently. Animals may perish a short time after capture.
2) Keep your fingers out of the cage. The animal IS wild.
3) Be certain the cage is secure when you set it, NOT when there’s an animal inside.
4) Don’t exact revenge. The animal is only doing what comes naturally.
5) Don’t handle the animal.
6) If the animal appears injured or disease, call Animal Control for your area. Do NOT release the animal.
7) During transport a stressed or agitated animal in a trap can be calmed and quieted by covering the trap with an old blanket or tarp, just make sure that it allows for good air circulation and will not cause overheating.
8) Before moving and releasing your trapped animal it may be a good idea to check out the local state game regulations in your locality.
They might also be able to help you with specific locations which would be suitable for the animal.
9) Avoid releasing your pest in residential areas, near active roadways, around other gardens or farmlands, or in environments that would not provide suitable cover, vegetation, and the type of terrain that a particular animal would need in order to survive.
10) It’s sometimes better to leave these things to professionals, if you’re at all uncomfortable trapping.
1) Assess what worked and what didn’t this year.
2) Buy the materials which were successful and have them on hand, in advance.
3) Read current articles on the matter, when it’s pouring rain outside. (Check in with us).
4) Consider fencing your garden for the new year.
5) Make certain all of last year’s equipment is in working order.
6) Plan your crops to include companion plants. (We’ll deal with that matter shortly.)
7) Amend your soil properly (Beneficial nematodes might be in order, if you’ve had any sort of beetle problem this year. Well-rotted manure and finished compost would add significant micro-organisms and minerals, as well as lighten the soil for the coming season.
8) Start keeping records. (This is a great way to chart your growth, to bemoan your failures, and to tout your successes. It’s a good spot to record when and where you bought your plant materials. You will have a record of the “secret” recipe you used to cause your beans to climb to the clouds!