By: Jackie Rhoades
Getting rid of armadillos is no longer a problem reserved for Texans. They were first seen in the Lone Star State in the 1850s and over the next hundred years, they’d waddled their way to Alabama and beyond. Armadillo control has become a concern throughout the southwest and beyond. Eventually, they’ll be found in any state where winters are mild. They’re known for tearing up flower beds in search of bugs and worms and leaving 3×5-inch (7.5-12 cm.) divots in the lawn where they’ve dug up the turf looking for grubs. Before you ask about how to get rid of armadillos, you need to know a little about them.
The nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcintus) is nocturnal, which means it does most of its foraging at night. Its strong legs and claws are built for tearing apart termite mounds and digging burrows that can reach 15 feet (4.5 m.) long. They eat bugs and grubs and worms, but the claim that they carry and spread leprosy is largely unprovable and unfounded. One of the reasons getting rid of armadillos is so difficult is that they aren’t territorial. The one that’s in your yard today may not be the one that did all that damage last week.
How to Stop Armadillos in the Garden
Unfortunately, the best method to stop armadillos from entering your yard is not only the most expensive, but might also be the least attractive. A stout fence with no spaces big enough for the critters to crawl through and buried a foot or more underground so they can’t dig under it, is the best form of armadillo control.
But if you’re not agreeable to living inside a fenced fortress, using their own biology against them might be a more practical and effective method of getting rid of armadillos.
Armadillos have a great sense of smell and a large part of their brain is dedicated to it, so the answer to how to get rid of armadillos is fairly simple. Make your yard stink! Yes, strong scented, eye-stinging scents like those of vinegar or ammonia or good old pine cleaner can stop armadillos in their tracks, driving them from their borrows and your yard. Rumor has it, these roly-poly creatures are offended by the smell of pine needles or pine bark. You might try switching to one of these as mulch for your garden beds.
There is no repellent currently registered for armadillo control although there are several ultrasonic pest devices that claim to do much the same thing.
Trapping and Killing Armadillos
If easier, less confrontational methods fail, you might want to try trapping your midnight visitors. There are several devices available that are designed to capture without killing. Armadillos are partial to over ripe fruit and earthworms as bait. Try setting out a dish of bait for several nights before loading the trap to capture their interest first.
Killing armadillos may be your last and only solution to ridding your yard of this nocturnal pest. These animals are so focused on their search for food they notice little else, including flashlights and people! If you choose this method of getting rid of armadillos, make sure you check local ordinances governing the use of firearms and weapons.
As you can see, there are a variety of methods to stop armadillos from destroying your yard. Test them all and see which works best for you.
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Although armadillos have weak vision, it is offset by their impressive sense of smell. Using this strength against them, many believe that odors like garlic may deter armadillos. In a University of Nebraska study, researchers examined these effects on birds. They found that high concentrations of garlic oil were needed to reduce the bird’s activities. It is important to remember that this study occurred in a controlled environment. Thus, applying high levels of garlic oil may be impractical in real-world conditions. In addition, researchers discovered that birds who had no other food sources returned to the garlic-infused plant. While there are no studies to prove these effects on armadillos, the same results could occur. So getting rid of armadillos with garlic may be inefficient.
Another common solution to armadillo control is cayenne pepper. Capsaicin, a naturally occurring ingredient in cayenne pepper, can cause irritation upon ingestion. Unlike humans, animals absorb capsaicin in their stomach, which can cause severe inflammation. As so, many believe that wildlife can associate these effects with the crop they ingested. Thus, wildlife may avoid returning to that spot.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska put this theory to the test. They found that cayenne pepper did not deter wildlife like they thought it would. Instead, results showed that beaver and deer responses varied. Thus, cayenne pepper was not a consistent or reliable deterrent. Researchers attributed the inefficiency to the substance’s weak durability. In particular, humidity and rain can cause the ingredient to wither or wash away. In turn, this may remove all protection from the plant. Consider alternate options if you live in an area with unpredictable weather.
How to Get Rid of Gophers, Moles and Armadillos
Learn how to drive off unwanted underground garden guests with these expert tips.
There are a number of ways to control underground pests - from trapping and flooding to poison - but master gardener Paul James prefers using a granular form of his favorite repellent: castor oil. This relatively new product does an excellent job of controlling moles, gophers and even armadillos.
Natural Gopher Control 05:32
So just how do you know whether you have moles or gophers? For one thing, moles don't eat plants. They primarily eat grubs and earthworms, and they leave telltale tunnels or shallow, surface ridges as well as circular mounds of dirt above ground with holes in the center.
On the other hand, gophers eat plants, and their tunnels are rarely visible. Gopher mounds are fan-shaped with a hole off to one side.
"Frankly, I don't mind moles that much," Paul says. "The tunnels they create can be a nuisance, but in the process of tunneling, they help aerate the soil. Besides, I don't have that many moles because I use a combination of milky spore bacteria and beneficial nematodes to destroy the grubs that moles feed on."
But gophers are another story, and at Paul's place, they've been having a feeding frenzy. "While I was on vacation recently, they ate more than 150 of the hostas in a bed. And aside from the economic damage, which I conservatively estimate at between $2,000 and $3,000, the gophers destroyed what I considered a really beautiful garden bed."
Photos: The 16 Most Common Garden Pests
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So, to get rid of the unwanted gophers, James uses the castor oil granules. Keep in mind that castor oil products don't actually harm moles or gophers, they simply send them scurrying elsewhere. In fact, you can dictate the direction you want them to go. Using a spreader, Paul evenly spreads the granules over an area of his yard where the damage has been particularly bad. With this product, the coverage rate is a mere one pound per 1,000 square feet, which means a little bit goes a long way. But it's difficult to judge how much, or in this case, how little you've put down.
You can water the granules in if you like, or you can just wait on the rain to do the job for you. Either way, the granules will slowly begin to dissolve and release the scent that repels both moles and gophers. "This is an all-natural product containing nothing more than castor oil, soap and corncob granules, which are actually good for the lawn," Paul says.
If you're treating a large area, simply broadcast the granules all over your property, including your lawn and garden beds, directing the moles and gophers to the nearest exit point of your property." To force the pests in a specific direction, apply the granules to one-third the area to be treated, beginning with the area farthest from the ultimate exit point. And within hours, especially if you water the area well, the gophers will begin moving in that direction. A day or two later, apply more granules to the next section, and a day or two after that, apply additional granules to the final section.
The trick to using any granular product is getting even coverage. Paul suggests trying one of three methods. One way is to simply broadcast the granules lightly but as evenly as possible by hand. The second is to use a hand-held spreader set to the lowest application rate. The third method is to use a conventional broadcast spreader set to the lowest application rate.
Some other commonly used techniques include setting traps whether live or lethal, they work pretty well if you set them properly. Flooding the tunnels with water or fumigating them by attaching a hose to the exhaust of a lawn mower can also be effective.
"Poison peanuts and smoke bombs don't work well," Paul says, "and their use has been banned in several states." But milky spore bacteria and beneficial nematodes are especially beneficial eliminating moles because both all-natural products destroy the grubs they feed on.
Step 2: Get Rid of the Armadillos
Trapping armadillos is a tricky task. There is no effective bait to use in an armadillo trap. In order to catch an armadillo you must know where it is coming from and where it is going so you can set a trap in the animal’s path. You read that right, you have to get the critter to wander into the trap without any extra help. It is a daunting task, but your Wildout team is up for it. We use natural barriers and create funneling systems, some of which have spanned hundreds of feet in order to increase our odds of successfully trapping the problem armadillo(s).
What Are Armadillos?
The 9-banded Armadillo is not a big creature. It is comparable in size to a small dog or medium-sized cat. Typical height is 6 to 10 inches, and its length can be 2 to 3-1/2 feet. Weight can range from 6 to 14 pounds or so. By way of comparison, the South American armadillo is called the Giant Armadillo and for good reason, too, because it can weigh up to 60 to 70 pounds.
Armadillos are nocturnal animals, meaning they are awake at night and sleep during the day. They have very poor eyesight and hearing, but to make up for these deficits, they possess phenomenal senses of smell. Definitely not aggressive by nature, armadillos like to quietly go about their business of enjoying the fresh water, grubs, and insects that a nice back yard habitat can provide. (So, they actually do provide an element of pest control while they are being pests themselves.)
Equipped with strong legs and sharp claws, armadillos are perfectly designed for digging very elaborate systems of burrows, complete with entrance and exit holes. Many of these burrows can measure up to 15 feet in length. They can number as many as 30 in the home network or range that armadillos share in community with each other.
The armadillos are plenty clever enough to have the burrows organized into 4 distinct categories:
- main burrow
- sleeping quarters
- nursery ( A female will have one litter of 4 males OR 4 females annually.)
- exit or escape route
While the burrows are not enormously high, their presence is distressingly noticeable on a well-kept lawn, golf course green or carefully cultivated flower or vegetable garden. Usually, burrows are 7 to 8 inches in diameter, nicely accommodating the girth of the adult 9-banded Armadillo. In addition, their burrows are networked, and many armadillos will share a home base.
Armadillos are not territorial creatures. However, they can willingly roam from place to place depending on availability of food, water, and soil they can most readily excavate. So, if a homeowner has gotten one or more armadillos off his or her property, it would be smart to keep the anti-armadillo plan in place. Where some armadillos used to be, more of the animals are sure to follow.
These hard-working foragers also enjoy living under porches and shed foundations. The females like to use crawlspaces for birthing and rearing their young. A fisherman’s bucket of dirt and freshly caught night crawlers is exactly what an armadillo would love to find during a nighttime raid.
How To Get Rid Of Armadillos
The only true way to get rid of armadillos is to trap them in cage traps and remove them from the area. There is no effective repellent or deterrent product that you can simply buy and spray or sprinkle on your property to make armadillos leave. Examples of bogus products include moth balls, coyote urine, and castor oil. Go ahead and buy these things if you must, but you'll just waste your time. The only real way to get rid of an armadillo for good is to set a trap and capture it in the trap. The animal must then be relocated at least a few miles from the site of capture, or humanely euthanized, as laws dictate.
AFTER: Here's the armadillo, trapped in a cage, about to be relocated to a new area.
If you don't live in Florida click my Nationwide Directory of Wildlife Professionals serving almost every town, in all 50 states.
For more armadillo trapping information, go back to the armadillo control page.
|PHOTOS: For great pictures of armadillo trapping and removal, click on my: Armadillo Photographs gallery.|
Here is a complete list of my other armadillo pages:
How to Get Rid of Armadillos
Armadillo Poison to Kill
How to Keep Away Armadillos
How to Catch an Armadillo
How to get rid of Armadillos? Armadillos are small mammals which can be a serious nuisance because of their excellent ability to dig. They usually destroy an entire lawn in just one night. They eat away the plants and vegetation and thus destroy them in the process. The burrows made by them not only pose a threat to vegetation but to the structure of the buildings as well. If you have troubles with armadillos destroying your yard and vegetation, there are some ways to rid yourself of the problem without destroying the animal.
Important Steps to Take
The best way to keep them away and protect your home and garden is to install fences around the area. However, do not install normal fences as they would not be effective in stopping Armadillos. As they care capable of digging burrows deep in the ground, you need to get and install specially designed fences available in the market that are meant to keep them away. They go deep into the ground and then protrude outwards. Thus, even if Armadillos dig deep down under the fence, chances are that it would still not be able to get inside your yard.
Also, try and remove all the insect and insect larvae present in the garden. If there is not enough food for them to feed upon, the chances of their coming over are less.
Some people believe that ammonia, moth balls and human or a predator’s urine acts as great repellent and drives armadillos away. Most of these people say to put them around different areas of the ground and into the openings of tunnels. and also, ensure to put these near the walls. Other claims include hot pepper spray also acts as effective repellent and drives them away. Another idea is that you can also brush your cat or dog to collect hair from fur. These can be placed in the yard for where the wind or breeze can scatter the hair around the area. The idea is that these are also useful in driving them away as armadillos tend to avoid areas where there are scents of predators in the area.
However, repellents really do not work all that well in getting rid of armadillos. They may work for a few days, if at all, and may deter them for a moment, but usually repellents are a waste of money that good be spent more effectively. In years of extensive testing and observing homeowners using repellents, I have found that they never ever work. Go ahead and test for yourself if you want.
Trapping the Armadillos
Trapping an Armadillo is really tricky. You can do it yourself but getting an expert involved would surely make the process a lot more quick and effective. First of all you need a good cage that is strong enough to hold the animal as well as large enough to hold an adult-sized Armadillo. As per experts, a cage of size 12” x 10” x 30” is good enough for the job. Also, it is better to set up more than one cage as this increases the chances of catching it.
An interesting and important thing to understand here is that you do not need to add bait in the cage. In the past, experts have tried a number of different options to find out the one that is best suited for job. However, none of the baits tried were able to lure the armadillo to the cage. In fact, adding bait in the cage resulted in other animals getting caught in the cage meant for Armadillos including opossums and raccoons.
Armadillos have really poor eyesight and they follow a fixed path for their movement. They use large stationary objects as reference points to navigate. Also, they prefer moving along edges, fences or walls. Thus, you need to carefully analyze the path they are taking and accordingly put the trap in their path.
A trap placed in the middle of the garden would rarely, if ever, work in catching an Armadillo. There have been cases when the traps were not able to catch them. Here, a professional of the field can be of great help and can complete the job really quickly before the animal damages your garden further.