What to Do About Yard Animals


If you try some of these suggestions and still have trouble with yard animals, give us a call (314-567-2060).

We will gladly help evaluate the situation and offer our services.



If you are striving for the perfectly manicured lawn, Missouri's climate and wild inhabitants may be driving you nuts. An alternative way to think about your lawn and garden is practicality. Rather than spending valuable time and resources constantly mowing and watering, for example, set the mower blade a notch higher and don't mow as often. This will actually be better for your grass. It will retain moisture longer and prevent scorching.  If you do water your lawn regularly, this moisture may attract more insects and/ or draw them closer to the surface of the soil, where they are food for all types of wildlife and their activity.


Likewise, where critters in the yard are concerned, think twice before eradicating everyone you think you have. All creatures care about food, water, shelter, and sex. The last one they will manage! The rest you can pay attention to in order to limit unwanted guests.


(Some of these suggestions do not have proven studies to back them and are not guaranteed. 

However, we have used these suggestions and have demonstrated success repelling wildlife.)

  • Don't leave cat or dog food out or leave food scraps around. (Even empty food or water bowls may be interesting to wildlife.)
  • Tightly close trash cans and barbecue grills. (Bungee cords and latches are useful here.)
  • Clean with soap and water the places cans and grills sit, to prevent creatures from investigating drips and spills.
  • Clean up brush piles and firewood. (Brush piles attract all types of wildlife and the food they eat.  Firewood piles should be neatly stacked at least twelve inches from the ground.)
  • Limit bird feeders and general feeding of wildlife. If you open a restaurant in your yard, don't be surprised when creatures of all types come to eat there.
  • Review your landscape and identify "trouble areas".  Low hanging bushes (trim bushes to at least twelve inches above the ground to reduce insects and wildlife taking residence here), trees growing to close to building (trees and shrubs should be cut back at least four- six feet from structures to help prevent access to the structures), old timbers or logs (attract insects, and wildlife), and regularly rake leaves to prevent insects and wildlife from gathering
  • Compost bins and compost piles, these are beneficial in many ways, but require attention.  Turning and using compost regularly, potentially elevating bins, or using sturdy latch-able bins are a few examples of good compost bins and maintenance. 

(One example of this is: a steel 'trash can' with a sturdy lid secured to the can, with holes drilled into the bottom and sides large enough for a worm to move in and out freely, then placed and secured in a hole dug into the ground to fit the bottom of the can, around ten inches to two feet deep.  Fill with soil and lightly scatter organic matter regularly.  Adding a compost enhancer or even using about 1/5 previous compost- to- 3/5 (or more) fresh soil- to- 1/5 (or less) compostable matter.  This compost bin lets the hungry worms in to make amazing soil and keeps the curious wildlife out!  This is one of MANY good examples!)

  • Wildlife-proof access points around the house...or, better yet, call us!


       As a general rule:  

    noises, offensive smells, and predators make for poor living environments and may cause your visitor to move on.


  • Dog and cat hair is a sign a predator is lurking, so brush your pet outside and leave handfuls where the unwanted animal has been seen.  Also, you are a predator!  The same can be done when you shave or cut your hair!  (Only use hair without shave cream or shampoo for best result, your oils are best.  Some of the creams and shampoos, smell appealing to wildlife.)
  • Castor, peppermint, and spearmint oils are odors that digging and burrowing animals dislike. (This can include groundhogs, mice, moles, rats, skunks, voles, and others.)
  • Add basic ammonia (not lemon scented), or peppermint essential oil, or spearmint essential oil to a cotton ball (or many cotton balls or torn pieces of tee-shirt) and place the cotton ball(s) in a zip lock sandwich bag.  Poke some holes in the bag, to allow dispersal of the smells.  Place these bags in areas you suspect wildlife may be located.  (Closets, cabinets, pantry, RV, boats in storage, basements, crawl spaces, attics, and more. This can work well to repel rodents (peppermint oils and spearmint oils) and other wildlife (ammonia).)  You may need several-many of these packets to be effective depending on the square footage of the area and dispersal of the scent.
  • Capsaicin oils are the main ingredient in most pepper sprays and are very effective deterrents.  Although, capsaicin should be used as a last resort in most cases.  You can purchase this online and in many stores. If you have cayenne pepper this may work as well.  Sprinkle a little of the pepper around areas you are having issues.  You can make your own pepper spray; by adding 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper, one tablespoon of (cooking) oil and one quart of water to a spray bottle.  Apply this to areas where you are having wildlife issues. (Many people use this treatment alongside pie plates tied loosely to a post, so the plates move about, to detour squirrels and other wildlife from gardens with great success.) 

Caution- the use of capsaicin oils and products can potentially harm wildlife.  It also may stain whatever it touches,

and may burn your skin, eyes, nose and more on contact! 

(Caution needs to be applied when using this treatment! It is pepper spray!) 

  • Put a combination castor oil and pet hair, or castor oil and cayenne red pepper in areas where animal activity has been noticed. (You can purchase ready-made castor oil and aromatic oil combinations.)
  • Used cat litter, without the scat (droppings) sprinkled around outside, in areas impacted can also make wildlife think a predator is lurking.  The main draw back on this is, other cats in your neighborhood may also come to investigate the litter and leave their smells too.
  • Try putting used coffee grounds in the areas, as a deterrent where wildlife frequents. (It is a strange odor.)
  • Playing a radio in areas experiencing wildlife activity, especially talk radio, has been an effective remedy to move 'em on as well. (The wildlife think the area is noisy with people, thus a bad home to live and to raise young.)


Keep in mind these are temporary solutions that need to be reapplied regularly to remain effective. 

The best solution is prevention!



The following are a few critters you may find in the yard and how to deal (humanely) with them.

For a comprehensive listing, visit the Wild Neighbors conflict-solving page.


Armadillos: New to our region, these creatures are following the food and opportunity now available to them.  They are insectivores and prefer habitat which does not freeze for long periods of time.  Our ecosystem is beginning to provide great resources for them. These creatures are often lured to our homes and yards by our behaviors.  Often, a well-watered and manicured lawn is not just appealing to us, but also the creatures that live with us.  If you water your lawn- reduce the frequency and amount.  If you have landscaping and mulched areas- consider substituting rock or pebbles instead.  Mulch attracts insects and the creatures who eat them.  Using repellants may be effective when used in conjunction with habitat and behavior modification.  Additional ideas and prevention tips can be provided for successful prevention if you Contact Us.


Moles: The much-maligned mole is actually a beneficial animal, eating mostly earthworms and aerating the soil. They almost never do the horrendous damage they are blamed for. Find out more about this complex creature and what to do to live with it. *This link is currently under construction, sorry for the inconvenience*


Rabbits: Yes, they do eat flowers and vegetables. However, they also eat things like clover, dandelions, apples, seeds, and nuts. In fact, they prefer these foods. Bribe them with cut up apple or small handfuls of bird seed. Put it out early in the morning or early in the evening when they are most active. Rabbits love clover and dandelions, but if you rid your yard of these wild plants - especially with toxic chemicals - they and other animals will look elsewhere for food. This could very well turn out to be your flower beds, gardens, and the bark of young trees and bushes. Let clover and dandelions grow as deterrents to your other desired vegetation!  The above-mentioned solutions may also help detour rabbits, especially predator smells.


Voles: Much like rabbits, these little rodents enjoy alternatives to garden plants. Try cut up apple and seeds to entice them away from your valued plants. Castor oils and other oils, dog and cat hair, cayenne pepper and other solutions can also be applied as a deterrent but will need to be applied regularly. When planting bulbs and plants, add "hardware cloth" ( 1/4"x1/4" or at least 1/2"x1/2" metal mesh, small square "chicken wire") to the bottom and sides of the hole, then add the plant and soil. The hardware cloth will inhibit the voles (and others) from devastating the plants in the future.


To repel garden insects, give castor or neem oil a try.

Castor oil is available as a liquid or granular treatment at most lawn and garden stores.  This oil makes the food taste strange to wildlife and the area smell funny (to wildlife).  This can disrupt normal feeding behaviors and discourage wildlife from feeding there. It is safe for most people and pets. 


True neem oil can be purchased at many garden shops, "natural" stores selling essential oils, and online. (For repelling indoor bugs, see our Dealing with Bugs page.)


In a spray bottle shake together:

1 quart warm water

1 tsp. neem oil

1/3 tsp. liquid soap or dish detergent

Spray the tops and undersides of leaves once a week if insects are present, every two weeks to prevent re-infestation. Shake the mixture frequently during use. The only downside to homemade neem spray is its short shelf life. The mixture should be used within 8 hours of making.


For a stronger concentration (for resistant bugs) combine:

1 quart warm water

2 tsp. neem oil

1 tsp. liquid soap or dish detergent



Pease contact us for more suggestions or advice in the application of these treatments.






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