Deer belongs to a large family with at least 47 species, including wapiti and caribou, among others. The smallest from the group has a length of only 14 inches and weighs 20 pounds. The largest deer that is still present today is a moose, which has a length of 6.5 feet and weight that is up to 1,800 pounds. They have slender legs, small tail, and long body and neck. One of the most common things that we associate with deer is their antlers, which is the bone structure in their head. However, it is important to note that only a male deer has antlers, except for caribous.
You can find deer all throughout the world except in Antarctica and Australia. They live in a variety of ecosystems, which include grasslands, rainforests, deciduous forests, and meadows, among others. However, through the years, they are amongst the animals suffering from the effects of habitat destruction. With this, it is not uncommon for them to live even in the urban or residential areas. They are most active from dawn until dusk as they feed mostly during low-light hours. They are most common in the garden during spring.
Identifying Deer’s Damage
Because a deer is herbivorous, you can expect that it will lead to massive destruction of plants in the garden. Also, it is important to note that they are picky eaters, preferring to feed on healthy fruits and vegetables because of their high nutritional value. The plants that they will eat and the extent of feeding will depend on a variety of factors, such as their health and population. To be specific, they will eat roses, alfalfa, fir, corn, aster, dahlia, sunflower, petunia, apple, cherry, plum, and blackberry, among others.
Below are some of the signs that will give you a clue on the presence and infestation of deer in the garden:
- The leaves will show some of the visible signs of damage from deer. They will appear jagged, which is an evidence of chewing.
- Aside from the damages to the leaves, plants can also suffer from stripping of foliage, buds, flowers, and shoots. When you wake up the next morning, you might end up being surprised seeing how devastating the damage was after just a night.
- Pay attention as well to the bark of the tree. When a deer is hungry, it will eat even the bark of a tree. It will create visible chew marks and will eventually inhibit the flow of nutrients to the other parts of the tree.
- Fraying is another sign that you should watch out for. This is a condition wherein the deer will rub its antler on a tree with the formation of new velvet. In turn, the bark of the tree will show vertical marks.
Results of Infestation
Deer can cause aesthetic damages to the plants that they eat, especially for flowers. In the case of ornamental plants, they will become unattractive. They prefer softer plants, and hence, they will not be able to provide the support that is needed and will eventually die. They use their antlers to thrash plants and to destroy them, even in the case of trees. Their feeding will also disrupt the growth of plants and will inhibit the flow of essential nutrients. In the case of commercial growers, economic losses can be possible.
How to Get Rid of Deer
Natural and Organic Solutions
Stay away from chemicals in the prevention and control of deer in the garden. They are toxic not only for deer, but even for humans and pets. With this, a better alternative is to consider the solutions below:
- Exclusion is one of the best things that can deliver excellent outcomes. With this, fencing is a method that will work. Clearly define your territory through having fences in the garden, which will prevent the deer from invading your lawn. The fence, however, should be made in such a way that it is tall and rigid, preventing the possibility that deer will knock it down. Ideally, it should have a height of at least five feet. Because deer has powerful legs, it can easily jump off the fence if it is too short.
- It will also help to be wiser with the plants that you will grow in the garden. Choose those that a deer will not eat. Those plants with hairy leaves, spikes, and pungent aroma will help to deter deer. Some of the best examples of deer-resistant plants include lavender, carnations, black-eyed susan, and crocus, among others.
- There is no need to use toxic pesticides or deer repellents to get rid of deer. There are many natural alternatives that can be taken into consideration. You can create home-made sprays that will be effective in emitting a strong odor that will repel deer. A mixture of 20% eggs and 80% water is one thing that will work. The smell of rotting eggs will be unpleasant for deer. Diluted hot sauce will also irritate deer.
- Scare tactics will also be effective. They will frighten the deer and they will not think of getting anywhere near the garden. Noise will work in the same way. Leaving a transistor radio turned on will create sounds that a deer will find annoying. Hanging aluminum foil or old CD is also effective. You can also install a motion detector. If it senses activity from the deer, it will produce noise, which will turn the deer away.