How Green Was My Garden: AAAALLLLVVVVIIIINNNN!!!!!!"

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Alvin and the Chipmunks were an adorable animated singing band that got into mischief and drove Dave crazy. I now know how Dave feels.   Except the chipmunks in my life aren’t making me any money with a major recording contract, just destroying my garden, digging up plants I spent a great deal of time and money growing, not to mention the burrowing under my house and garage.

In an effort to try to be one with nature and first do no harm I have tried virtually every form of repellents there is,  like hot pepper wax and fox urine, Plantskyyd granules, rotten egg spray, the little critters seem immune.  I also have fencing and raised beds, but chipmunks are tiny little things that can avoid most deterrents.

Public Enemy Number One

Public Enemy Number One

I have found them digging in my pots, pulling up plants, in my raised beds burying seeds, and stealing vegetables.  Just like there is an overpopulation of bunnies this year there are lots and lots of the chipmunks this year.

They may look cute, in fact, the Goldy Gopher mascot was reportedly modeled after a chipmunk, not really a gopher after the artist George Grooms saw the rodents at a rest stop  (see the lineup the Bell Museum created if you want proof that Goldy is actually a chipmunk).  But chipmunks can do a lot of damage; they dig burrows under foundations, can chew through wiring, they carry ticks and fleas and their droppings can also be a hazard when near the home.

Just like any rodent they are a nuisance but more so when you spend so much time and care on your garden and find your fresh produce either robbed or with little bite marks and not consumable.

So what can you do to combat Chip & Dale? Not much unfortunately. In order to stop them digging you can place landscape fabric over all your plants.  If you find the burrow you can fill it with wire wool or even spray foam insulation.  Keeping wood piles away from the house and off the ground can take away hiding places.  If you have a neighbor with bird feeders though, or like me, have a maple tree with ample supply of seeds, you are pretty much doomed as they will keep returning for that food source.

chip-n-dale-1_640

RIP Chip & Dale

When all my prevention methods failed and I found burrowing through the foundation of my garage I decided it was time to fight back, so yes, I turned to chipmunkicide.   This summer I have culled Alvin, Theodore, Simon, Chip & Dale, the Chipettes, and some of their friends.  If you don’t want to hear about it I suggest you don’t read any further. I realize there are many who would rather lose their entire garden than harm a fly, but I am not one of those people.  I am an organic gardener, but I draw the line when my investment is being lost to an overpopulated pest.

To control these rodents the method I found easiest and most humane was snap rat traps which I surround with almonds and leave along the path they travel, usually right near my herb bed (seen pictured above) where they have buried countless seeds and dug up more than a few of the plants.

There are other methods detailed on the internet describing “the swimming pool of death.”  Basically a five gallon bucket is filled half way up with water and the surface is covered with sunflower seeds, then you build a diving board with a small board leading to the bucket and line that with seeds, the little chipmunks will dive into the bucket to reach the seeds, they won’t be able to swim or climb out of the bucket and will drown.   Others profess the benefits of Havahart traps, but  those traps are not inexpensive and relocation can be very inhumane as well, taking the critters away from their food stores.

077Poisons should never be used against chipmunks because it is never safe. You do not know where the chipmunks will end up dying and can easily become prey to another animal or pet who would them become poisoned as a result. The other reason is for your own convenience, when chipmunks die they will cause a rather foul smell and fly/maggot hazard and if you don’t know where they expire, say in their burrow under your house, that would be rather uncomfortable for a few weeks especially in the hot summer.

Though I like to play nicely with nature as a rule, this year I had to draw the line with the chipmunks after all the damage they caused to my house and my garden.  With their numbers decreased I have seen less damage and I know I’ll never eradicate them.  I just wish there was a bounty on them like there is with gophers, I could have made up for all the cost of the plants I had to replace.

After we closed up the burrow when completing a new deck we didn’t see any chipmunks for almost two weeks, but then just yesterday, there he was, peeking out of the downspout again.  AAALLLVVVIIINNNN!!!!

1 Comment so far

  1. David (jacc) on July 27th, 2009 @ 11:38 am

    I’m glad I don’t have chipmunks, but I do have plenty of ground squirrels and grey squirrels. My neighbors love the squirrels and feed them excessive amounts of seed and corn, year around. My yard is like a squirrel super highway as they come from the entire neighborhood to feed at their feeders,unfortunately, their feeders somehow aren’t enough they also destroy just about every plant and bird feeder they happen to come across.
    No to mention chewing on my house and garage as well as digging up gardens.

    I dislike rodents and it’s always a happy time in late July when the hawks move into the neighborhood in full force.



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