Deer Repellents : Types, and Do They Work?

Reader Contribution by Elizabeth Gatto

There is a wide and varied mixture of deer repellents that you can try and buy to keep deer from invading on your land. In our experience, very few of these repellents actually work, but some homeowners swear by them.  The only one that is truly effective method is hiring a nuisance wildlife operator to professionally prevent deer.

Some things that you need to take into consideration when you’re using a deterrent or repellent is the effectiveness of them (if there was any to start with), cost, and timing of when to stop or reapply. Liquid or granule-based repellents, for example, will need to be reapplied after you water your lawn or garden or any time after it rains. Electrically powered repellents, such as noise or sound devices, will either run on batteries, solar panel, or via the mains. Solar panel ones are obviously cheap to run, but can be more expensive to buy upfront. If the device runs on batteries or via the mains, you will need to think about the long-term running costs. This can also be the case for electrical fencing, which is another method you can look at for keeping wild critters at bay.

There are a few homemade remedies, usually said to deter deer and other nuisance wildlife from hard-hit plant life, usually by way of a very bad taste. Chili peppers or hot sauce, for example, can be used as a spicy repellent, but these can actually make the animal feel sick in some instances, so it isn’t recommended.  Another one is a mixture of eggs that smells like rotten eggs. We know that these are more wives tails that we wouldn’t want on our land, and we’re sure that many of you can say the same thing. On the other hand, human or dog hair is known to be effective.  The deer smell the human or dog scent and keep away.  In fact, really strong smells is something that deer seem to steer well clear of, and you can use strongly scented anything to try and deter them from your land. You could look at using fabric softener, or an old bottle of really strong perfume that you don’t like. The strong scents can sometimes work to deter deer, but can attract other creatures. Strong and sweet perfumes, for example, can bring in bees or wasps from far and wide. Make sure whatever you use is not toxic, and won’t cause a problem for or contaminate local water or food sources, or soil.  Onions and garlic are not advisable, however, because there are a number of other wild animals, including dogs and cats, that can’t eat them. Onions and garlic are just two examples of toxic foods for domesticated pets.

Certain plant types have been said to have varying degrees success too. If you plant things that the deer don’t eat in front of the plants that the deer do eat, there’s a good chance they won’t venture through to get to the good stuff. You can even mix them in among the often-eaten plants too. These include flowers, such as snapdragon, daffodils, lavender, and hyacinth, along with herbs — thyme, dill, and oregano. These are very fragrant. You’ll enjoy them, but the deer is said to dislike them.

Elizabeth Gatto is a promoter of humane treatment of animals and supports many wildlife conservation organizations.  She promotes humane nuisance wildlife removal so people know it is possible to respect nature as well as maintain safety in your home. Find her online at AAAnimal Control.  Read all of Elizabeth’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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