THE BIGGEST PEST OF ALL — September 2020

By Diane Lockspeiser

After being attacked by the wasps, I continued working in my garden despite nearly jumping out of my skin every time any bug came near me. My homemade wasp trap hadn’t worked with the wasps, but collected a lot of flies and became extremely smelly. The wasps still went to their damaged nest, so I started flooding it with the hose, standing “bravely” at a safe distance. They soon left and I haven’t seen them for quite a while now. Meanwhile, I’ve had other pests to deal with.

I bought a Japanese beetle trap that has worked really well. I used netting this year to keep some of the birds away from the cherries and blueberries. There has been an ongoing battle, however, with critters coming through holes in the fence and holes in the ground.

When I originally set up the fence posts around my garden, I intended to hang deer fencing, which is a plastic mesh. My neighbor then told me that they mostly had problems with rabbits, who I figured could easily chew through that mesh, and so I used six foot tall chicken wire instead. I hadn’t even finished enclosing the whole area when a deer came to nibble on a baby apple tree. It got startled and ran, not to the unfinished part, but to the one section that WAS finished—not very smart, especially since it got a little caught up on the fence as it tried to jump over.

I read about buying Lion’s Urine to spread to keep critters away. It turned out that Duke’s Piss worked just as well for years, our big dog Duke being happy to keep leaving his scent around the garden perimeter. Then the Winter after he died was mild, and I was greeted that Spring with a garden full of tunnels dug by an unknown critter.

I tried to cave in what tunnels I could, but it seemed endless. One day while mowing the grassy areas between plantings, I startled several adorable baby bunnies out of hiding. Mama was outside the fence and took off. The babies were so tiny they were able to squeeze through the chicken wire. I felt like mean old Mr. McGregor from the Peter Rabbit story as I chased them away. At least one of them has since gotten bigger and keeps trying to get back into the garden, sometimes succeeding, finding places where the fencing had rusted away, or reworking the tunnels. I really wouldn’t mind them coming to eat the strawberries if they would just leave some for me!

After the wasp fiasco, however, I started getting ripe strawberries again. Evidently, the stinky trap full of flies that happens to be in that area keeps the rabbits away. I read the ingredients list for a critter repellent sold in the store, and it’s mostly stinky stuff, one being garlic oil. I started leaving garlic scraps around the edges of the garden and into any new holes I find. I also keep flooding holes with the hose until they collapse. It all seems to be working. I plan to plant more garlic than ever this fall, scattering them throughout problem areas, and I’ll be on the lookout for other deterrents to use.

I am finding that in order to deal with the creatures I call pests, I have to become an even bigger pest, the biggest pest of all in the garden!~