Skunks are nocturnal and non-aggressive animals, which makes them less of a problem in the garden compared to many others. There are different species of skunks, but two of the most popular are spotted skunk and striped skunk. They belong to the Mustelidae or weasel family. They are omnivorous and can also be beneficial in the garden. They will be an excellent choice for the biological control of some of the common garden pests, such as cutworms, hornworms, and Japanese beetles.
They are popular from the foul odor that they emit. They have two pouches on the tail. When you do not disturb them, there should be no problem. On the other hand, once you disturb the skunks, they will emit golden-yellow liquid, which produces a foul odor. The good thing is that they will only produce such if you disturb them.
Skunks have a wide array of habitats, which include grasslands, woods, deserts, and mountains, among others. They overwinter in places where they can find protection from the cold. They create burrows, which is where they live. These burrows will have up to five doorways. Aside from the garden, they also commonly survive under the porches, holes under buildings, and dens that are covered with grass, among others.
Identifying Skunk’s Damage
As we have earlier mentioned in this post, skunks feed mostly on animals and insects. It is seldom that you will find them in the garden. If ever they are present in the garden, their most common host is corn, which is because they are low on the ground. If the damage to corn is on the higher portion, raccoons are most probably the culprit and not skunks.
Watch out for the following signs, which are some of the most common indications of the presence of skunks:
- Among others, the most common sign is holes on the lawn or flower bed. The skunks are the ones that dig these holes.
- You can also pay attention to the smell in the surroundings, especially of your pet. If they have a foul smell, this is probably because of skunk spray.
- For corn, pay attention to the signs of gnawing on the lower portion of the ear. Skunks cannot reach high, which is why evidence of their feeding is only on the bottom part of their host plant.
- Pay attention as well to the marks on the tracks or pathways. Their footprints will be similar to raccoons. Their marks will have five toes and visible claws.
Results of Infestation
Most of the damages by skunks can be cosmetic. As they are powerful diggers, they can create holes with a diameter of three to four inches. Because of burrowing, they will make the lawn unattractive. It won’t take a long time before they can bring serious damages. There are no serious economic losses or reduction of crop yield since they seldom affect plants.
How to Get Rid of Skunks
Natural and Organic Solutions
To eliminate and prevent skunks in a manner that does not resort to hazardous methods, the following are some of the solutions that can prove to be promising:
- On the top of the solutions would be habitat modification. Learn about what they eat and where they live. With this, you can alter the external environment, making sure that they will not find it attractive. Get rid of anything that they can eat on the ground or their possible denning site. See to it that trash bins are always covered.
- Trapping is another solution that will work. However, you need to be familiar with the regulations where you live as there are some laws that prohibit a number of trapping methods. Live traps are some of the most common, which are available in many commercial sellers.
- There are also several alternatives to pesticides that contain toxic chemicals. With this, one of the most popular products that you might want to consider is Repels-All Animal Repellent. The latter contains a granular formulation that utilizes ingredients that are all-natural.
- Fencing is another exclusion method that can deliver promising results. However, because of the size of skunks, see to it that the fence is strong enough so that skunks won’t be able to knock them down. Also, be sure to bury the fence deep on the ground. As much as possible, the depth of the fence should be about ten inches. This is because skunks have the reputation of being heavy diggers.
- Predator urine will also be a good choice for the elimination of skunks. To be specific, coyotes and dog urine will help to deter their presence. Many commercial sellers are selling these products.
- Placing a bar of soap with a strong smell in the garden patch is another simple solution that can be effective. The strong smell of the soap will be helpful in keeping the skunk away. Lemon and orange peels will also work as skunks dislike the smell of citrus.
Similar to the case of other animals, chemical control is the least favorable option when it comes to getting rid of skunks. They can be inhumane and most of all, they contain toxic ingredients. They can be harmful to humans, the environment, and pets. With this, it is important to be cautious when using chemicals. Pay attention to the instructions from the manufacturer and make sure to religiously follow it. Also, in some cases, it is best to rely on the help of professionals with technical knowledge in the elimination of skunks.
Professionals can inject chemical solvents on the body of the skunk, such as acetone. A long pole syringe will be used for the application of the latter. Mothballs are also popular. They contain a chemical known as paradichlorobenzene, which can cause toxicity.