As spring draws near so do our lovely but smelly friends, the skunk. They breed from winter to early spring and give birth to a litter of 3 – 10 young. Sure, it is fun to watch a family of skunks walk and shuffle through your yard, but the attractiveness quickly disappears when your pet or family member is confronted by them and sprayed. Before skunks take over your yard, a pro-active solution is essential.
Homeowners often turn to inhumane ways of ridding their yards of these common pests. At best, results are ineffective and could violate local by-laws leading to possible fines or imprisonment. The most effective method of controlling skunks is to prevent the critters from coming to your yard in the first place. By following these techniques and solutions, you can start to enjoy your summer.
Keep Your Yard Clean
By cleaning up food sources, such as pet bowls, low hanging bird feeders, and placing trash in a container with a lockable lid, will help tremendously in keeping skunks out of your yard. Eliminating small rodents is also useful, as skunks will eat mice and moles. Seal up openings in your house and out buildings using wire mesh, as skunks love to make a home inside a cozy, small area. Decks and pool houses are good places for the critters to live as they like enclosed areas to establish their den. Furthermore, eliminate brush, piles of twigs, and leaves that skunks can burrow into and build a home.
Use of Plants
For a natural deterrent, use plants that skunks simply do not like. Planting squash around your garden is quite useful. Skunks do like to eat squash, but the leaves of the plant have tiny hairs that irritate their feet, so skunks will not walk on them. In addition, planting stinging nettle or Urtica dioica discourages skunks from crossing over. These plants have sharp needles that contain a toxin that if stepped on, produce an irritating sting, as well as the discomfort from the needle itself. The plant, Crown Imperial, also produces a flower that emits a foul odor that skunks dislike.
Having the opposite effect of these plants and attracting skunks are things like rotting fruits and vegetables. Promptly picking up fallen fruit from trees and ridding your garden of rotting vegetables will effectively reduce the frequency of the skunk.
Skunks are omnivores, but do prefer to eat insects like grubs and larvae. Skunks will come out at night and dig in your yard or garden in search of a variety of tasty morsels. Treating your lawn and garden with a chemical insect repellent will eliminate the insect problem. Therefore, the skunks will seek other locations for their nightly meals.
Since skunks are nocturnal creatures, flooding your yard with bright lights goes a long way in keeping them off your property. Skunks will seek out the darker areas of the yard, both for protection, and for food. In addition, purchasing a sprinkler with a motion detector will shoot the skunk with water once they trigger the sensor. One has to be careful with this device, as the shock of the water can also cause the skunk to spray. Skunks can spray up to 15 feet, and the smell will stick around for hours and sometimes days.
Sometimes, once a skunk has made a home in your yard, or under your deck, the only effective method of eliminating them is to use a humane live trap. Placing one near the entrance of the skunk’s den and baiting with fruit will draw the animal out at night and catch it. One can then transfer the skunk to a wooded area away from your home. A homeowner can rent or borrow humane traps from the SPCA; however, one still takes a chance of the skunk spraying despite its confinement in the trap.
The use of family and pet friendly chemicals are always a good choice. Try inserting mothballs in a glass-canning jar and poking holes in the tin lid then put these around the yard. The smell of the mothballs will keep skunks and other pests away. In addition, soaking rags in household ammonia and placing them near the entrance to the skunk’s home will usually make the skunk leave after a few days.
As one can see, there are many ways to either inhibit skunks from entering your yard or eliminating them once they have established themselves. If one method does not work, try another. Not all of these solutions will work on every skunk. When all else fails, the best and most effective way is to hire a professional trained in wildlife control. This will save countless hours of frustration and possibly injury and they usually offer with a guarantee.