They burrow, they dig through your garden, they get into spoiled fruit in the compost pile and spoiled meat from the trash can. Armadillos are a menace when you are attempting to keep a neat and orderly yard. You can try to deter them by removing potential food sources, keeping garbage sealed up tight and keeping the vegetable garden fenced in. But the truth is armadillos can turn out to be a stubborn problem once the appear on your property.
There is a whole host of armadillo repellent products sold commercially. These formulas feature a number of ingredients, but there are four main categories of armadillo repellents: castor oil, naphthalene, castor oil, and coyote urine. There are also lines of sound machines made to make noises armadillos supposedly hate. If you are in an area where armadillos show up in your backyard, chances are your local home and garden supplier carries these armadillo deterrents.
Castor Oil and Naphthalene (Moth Ball) Repellent
Castor oil repellents are designed to slowly release their formula into the ground whenever wet. They are often combined with ingredients like hot pepper, are labeled organic, and work by tainting the armadillo’s food supply with an unwanted odor and taste. They are supposed to be safe for use around people and animals, though it is worth noting castor oil is harmful to children and pets if ingested in significant enough quantities. The University of Florida Extension program warns against using such products, considering them more harmful to the overall ecosystem of your property than helpful for getting rid of armadillos.
Armadillos are said to hate the smell of naphthalene, the camphor-like chemical that gives mothballs their distinctive odor. Naphthalene is used to ward off armadillos in a few ways. The simplest method is placing mothballs in strategic location around your yard or home; you might surround your garden with mothballs to keep the armadillo from digging for bugs in it and uprooting your plants. This results in mushy mothballs left all over your property, however, and many people report it doesn’t work as much of a deterrent.
There are also products made with naphthalene in them that you can sprinkle in your lawn to keep armadillos away. They are supposed to slowly release the smell of mothballs and even soak down to the deeper levels where an armadillo digs for food. They are eventually so put out by the bad smell, the armadillo eventually stops digging in your yard.
Coyote Urine Sprinkles and Sound Machines
This may be the most “organic” of the armadillo repellent categories. Coming in either a liquid or solid form, coyote urine or the urine of another armadillo predator can be used in the same manner as the other repellents mentioned here. While these products are reportedly helpful for other animals, like deer, they seem to work unpredictably in the case of armadillos.
Another gamble are the sound machines made to scare away armadillos and similar backyard pests. They are supposed to create a high-pitched noise armadillos don’t like. True to their product descriptions, these sound machines do not seem to bother the people who install them. Unfortunately, many report no changes in armadillo activity on their property with these devices installed.
Alternatives to Armadillo Repellent
The above products have their potential uses, but there is a downside to using each of these solutions to your armadillo problem:
- Despite the “organic” label on these products, castor oil and naphthalene can toxify the soil, plants, and animals in the areas where they are applied
- Coyote urine isn’t toxic but is not necessarily useful for armadillos; same goes for fox urine and other predator-based products
- Sound machines are expensive and receive lots of negative consumer reviews even when they are used in large numbers
- You can only use repellent to fence off an area from armadillos– it does not expel them from the area
Your surest bet for keeping armadillos away from your property is capture and removal. The process of catching and releasing an armadillo is not easy but is simple enough many homeowners choose to complete the task themselves. Alternatively, you can hire a pest control expert to trap the armadillo for you and then take it away.
Trapping requires an extra large trap, bait the armadillo finds appealing, knowledge of your local laws concerning armadillo removal, and a chosen location for release. There are various methods for making your trapping attempts more successful. You can read up on how to bait, trap, and remove armadillos on a site like Florida Wildlife Control. Contact your local extension office for more information on armadillo-related laws and trapping advice for your particular area.
Repellent might serve as a temporary solution for your armadillo invasion, but consider it only the first line of defense. Using it might buy you a little time by keeping your yard free of holes long enough for you to devise a plan that will keep armadillos away from your home and garden for good. Then, once your property is armadillo-free, the above repellents might be a useful method for keeping the next neighborhood armadillo from moving in or making your yard their favorite feeding ground.