If it weren’t for that, um, distinctive aroma, gardeners would welcome skunks with open arms. These shy, gentle animals rarely eat plants. In fact, they consume large quantities of gardener’s sworn enemies, including insects, their eggs and larvae; slugs; mice; voles; baby rats; and their favorite of favorites – grubs. Unfortunately, in their quest for dinner; they tend to run roughshod through shrub beds and lawns.
Skunks are adaptable and happy to live just about anywhere except the desert areas. But there prefer underground burrows near the edges of woodlands or in bushy areas (like your shrub borders). And they often set up housekeeping in abandoned groundhog holes, old tree stumps, or that nice, cozy cranny under the porch.
Before you set out to clear your territory of skunks, here are a few things you ought to know:
Contrary to what a lot of folks think, skunks only spray as a last resort. When they are confronted by a human, or any other critter for that matter, they’d much rather flee than launch a fragrant attack.
Like cowboy, skunks honor the Code of the West: They give fair warning before they shoot, And the message is loud and clear. When he’s cornered or feel threatened, a skunk will stiffen up his front legs, stomp them, and shuffle backward a little. He may also hiss and growl. When you’ve been issued that warning, just back off quickly and quietly, and the skunk may retreat too. Otherwise, the little acrobat will throw his body over his head – and still facing you – let’er rip.
Within 10 feet of their target, skunks are real sharpshooters. Between 10 and 20 feet, they’re not so accurate. So if you can make it that far before Pepe Le Pew pulls the trigger, you may only get sprinkled. If happened to get tagged, here’s a home remedy that will help with the smell.
1 cup of bleach vinegar
1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid
2 ½ gallons of warm water
Mix all of the ingredients in a bucket and thoroughly saturate walls, stairs, or anything else your local skunk has left his mark on. Caution: Use this tonic only on non-living things – not on pets, humans or plants.
When it comes to giving off aromas, skunks are the heavyweight champs of the world. And for the most part, they can take what they dish out. But there is one odor that will send them running in a hurry – ammonia. So if the little guys are venturing where they’re not wanted, soak some rags in the potent liquid, and hang them in the trouble spots.
You’ve used all of the “go-away” tricks in your bag, but how do you find out if your little camper is still in the den? Simple: Just stuff newspaper into the entrance hole of your garden. If Mr. or Ms. Skunk is in the residence, the paper will be shoved out within 24 hours. I recommend using this technique around midday when the skunks are usually snoozing.
Chad Downings is an expert in pest control home remedies. He currently runs his own company and offers free consultations for Pest Control Rochester in New York.