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Mowing Down Flower Gardens as We Sleep - Deer Are Pests in Many Locales

Fencing, Foxglove and Fiery Peppers Keep Bambi Out

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Although deer make cute lawn ornaments and at certain times of the year, can decorate our roofs with holiday cheer, the human population's sprawl into forested areas means more deer-human contact. Whether impacting vehicles at the rate of 1.5 million times per year, spreading ticks that may transmit Lyme Disease or simply eating every hosta, azalea, tulip, lily or pansy in the garden, deer in wooded habitats can be pests that must be controlled.

Life Cycle

Adult deer, which generally weigh 100-150 pounds and live 5-10 years, breed in November and December, producing spotted fawns, the males of which will begin to grow "spikes" or small antlers at about 6 months. Adult males shed their antlers every December and January, and size does seem to matter as the larger, more aggressive bucks are favored by the female does as preferred breeding partners. Cud chewers with high nutrition needs, deer favor soft, easily digestible plant leaves, hence their fondness for flower and vegetable gardens.

Senses

The ears of deer are shaped to funnel in sounds and rotatable so their sense of hearing is highly acute, while their moist noses can trap odor particles from hundreds of yards away. Although they have poor depth perception as both eyes will not focus on the same object at the same time, deer can see light in the ultraviolet range so they tend to feed in the early morning and late afternoon hours.

Control

Fencing, foxglove and fiery peppers are effective deer deterrents:

Fencing should be at least 8 feet high and fabricated of black, polyethylene mesh.

The County Extension agent's office can guide you to deer resistant plants appropriate to your area's growing conditions but plants with fascinating names such as foxglove, yarrow, bishop's weed, dragon's head, spurge and buckthorn are some gardener favorites.

Sprays of garlic, hot peppers, rotten eggs and bloodmeal can be homemade or commercially prepared but regardless of the source, must be re-applied to leaf surfaces after every rain to promote maximum deterrence.

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