Chipmunks belong to the Sciuridae family and there are more than 25 species available. Most of them have a length that ranges from 7 to 11 inches and weight that is 32 to 125 grams. They have tiny and upright ears, pointy nose with whiskers, and big black eyes. The color of their body can be gray to reddish-brown. Another defining characteristic would be their contrasting stripes. They look like cartoon characters, but beyond their cute appearance, they can be destructive in the garden.
Most of them can be found in deciduous forests and woodlands. Aside from this, you can also find them in urban parks, houses, and gardens. They will create burrows, which have an approximate length of 3 to 4 meters, which will have tunnels and entrances. This is also where they will store their food, which they will eat when they become inactive. During the winter, they hibernate and the feed on the foods that they have stored in their burrows. They are also common in places near rocks, especially at home.
Identifying Chipmunk’s Damage
Chipmunks can eat almost any plant, including flowers, fruits, and vegetables. To be specific, some of their most common hosts include geraniums, tomatoes, apples, pinecones, sweet corns, nuts, strawberries, pears, beech, ash, sunflower, maples, and magnolia.
One of the important things to know about chipmunks is that they are not shy to admit that they are wreaking havoc in the garden, which is why the signs will be easily evident. With this, below are some of the symptoms that you need to watch out for:
- Feces on the ground is one of the most common signs that chipmunks have already invaded your home or garden.
- In the case of trees, one of the most common signs of their presence would be having stripped barks.
- Look around the lawn. Another clue on the presence of chipmunks would be the appearance of burrows or portions that are dug up. They are created by squirrels to store food that they will eat when they overwinter.
Results of Infestation
The foraging activity of the chipmunk causes most of the damage in the plants. They can kill young plants even before they grow. This can be an economic loss for commercial growers. However, in most instances, the economic loss from the infestation is very low and does not really concern many people. The good news is that they are large enough, making it easy to spot the chipmunks and venture into an effective solution, which we will discuss further in the rest of this post.
Their infestation will not only affect plants in the garden. They can also consume bird seeds, and hence, will make it impossible to attract birds that could have been otherwise beneficial when it comes to biological control of pests. Their burrowing activity can also weaken the structure of walls.
How to Get Rid of Chipmunks
Natural and Organic Solutions
To prevent and eliminate chipmunks in a manner that is safe, the following are some of the things that you can do:
- Having a well-groomed yard is one of the solutions that should be on the top of the list. By cleaning and maintaining the space, you will make it less attractive for the presence of chipmunks. Remove rock piles, stacks of wood, and garden litter, among others. Keep the edges of your house clean, which will make it easy to see chipmunks.
- Trapping is perhaps one of the best ways to deal with chipmunks. You can either purchase traps that are ready-made or make your own at home using basic materials that are available. A classic mousetrap is one of the easiest solutions. Do not forget to place food around the trap to entice the chipmunks. A glue board can also be a good alternative, especially if you intend to trap chipmunks that are a nuisance indoors.
- Placing mothballs in the garden or around the perimeter of the house will also be a good idea. Take note, however, that this does not kill the chipmunks. Rather, it emits a strong smell that deters the activity of chipmunks. It will instantly send them away, and hence, preventing damage.
- While there are no pesticides that are useful for fighting chipmunks, you can make your own natural spray. Again, they will not kill the chipmunks, but they will be effective in making them stay out of your plant. Hot sauce or pepper spray are some of the best. Apply them directly on the plants and this will keep the pesky rodents away.
- Another control strategy that might work is to feed them. Give them the foods that they love, such as sunflower seeds. However, place them away from the garden. By doing this, you will be isolating the chipmunks. If you have bird feeders, it will also be best to keep them far from the garden or the house so that chipmunks will not get near your plants.
- Using bloodmeal is also a good alternative in getting rid of chipmunks. It is made from dried blood of an animal, which is usually a great addition to an organic compost. To make it yield a high level of effectiveness, make sure to reapply blood meal after rain.
Using chemicals and poisons is not recommended for the control of chipmunks. Many of toxic products will not kill the pest right away. With this, when they feel weak, they can hide in places where you cannot easily spot them. Overtime, their body will rot. This will let out a foul odor and can also be a risk for humans.