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Garden Critter Tips

Deer and Other Things That Eat in the Night

A frequently asked question, from gardeners, is “what is eating my plant”.

Deer, rabbits, woodchucks, and insects are high on the list of suspects. Visiting your local Cooperative Extension Office, can help you figure out who is chomping. Let’s look at a few of the culprits.


Choosing deer resistant plants is the best way to limit the damage. Some plants in this group are coneflowers, boxwood, marigolds. Remember even if deer do not bother them other critters might.

Products: Compost tea, deer repellants, Cayenne pepper spray, it is best to change on a monthly basis as the deer will become use to the taste. A Fence barrier is a choice to help in breaking the route that deer are

used to taking.

Milorganite: A bagged organic fertilizer and when you broadcast it on your garden and surrounding area will deter deer. Make sure you spread it on the grass areas, 2-3 feet out from your beds as you want to break their habit of walking through your garden. This product requires weekly application. A strongly scented soap hung from hooks can help. This also must be changed during the season.

Rabbits/Woodchucks: Best to check your cooperative extension for repellants.

Insects: Insecticidal soap spray, Neem oil, Horticultural oil are a few products which will help. It is best to check with Cooperative Extension, for the best product to use on your pest problem. Also, follow package directions.

Japanese Beetles: This destructive chewing insect is best controlled by treating lawn areas for beetle grubs. Skunks and crows will pot-hole your lawn looking for them. Treating for grubs will help in cutting down the insect population numbers. Spraying or hand picking may be needed. Certain wasps and bees, ground dwellers, are an IPM or Integrated Pest Management or a natural predator. Sticky Cards or Balls are useful used around plantings.

NOTE: Avoid beetle traps as they use a scent attractor and will draw the beetles into your area.

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