It's fun to watch adorable little chipmunks scamper around your garden, but these cute critters can be surprisingly destructive. Whether they're chewing up your plants or burrowing under your house, they can quickly become the bane of a home owner's existence. Traditional pest control methods often use toxic substances, but there are plenty of humane ways to keep chipmunks under control.
Make sure you really have a chipmunk infestation
Chipmunks are stealthy creatures, so the first sign of an infestation is usually chewed-up plants and flower bulbs. However, many other pests can cause that problem. If you suspect chipmunks, spend some time looking for clear signs, such as burrows in the ground, often under shrubs, woodpiles, or other debris. Look in muddy areas for prints, as well. Chipmunks have four toes on the front feet and five toes on the hind ones.
Take away their hiding places
Chipmunks like covered areas, so cleaning up your yard and trimming back overgrown landscaping can discourage them from spending time in your yard. Remove any piles of debris or brush, and place firewood on a concrete pad or metal rack away from your house. If you live near woodlands, clear an area between your house or garden and the woods to eliminate easy pathways.
Plant natural repellents
Some plants are more attractive to chipmunks than others, so plan your landscaping with that in mind. Daffodils and plants in the garlic family are excellent squirrel and chipmunk repellents. Planting a border of those around more desirable plants can help prevent critters from seeing your garden as a free buffet. You can even design your entire property to repel wildlife.
Protect your flowers and bulbs
If chipmunks seem particularly attracted to certain plants in your yard, consider covering those plants with a bulb cage or surrounding them with a protective mesh. Although chipmunks are clever and can usually get through these eventually, it often makes access difficult enough that they'll seek easier snacks instead. Using hanging planters can also discourage scavengers.
Scatter human hair around
One of the more creative ways to repel chipmunks is to take human hair clippings and scatter them throughout your garden beds. Chipmunks are usually afraid of humans, so the scent can keep them away. You can use your own hair clippings if you're a fan of do-it-yourself haircuts, or ask your hairdresser to set some aside for you.
Spray chipmunk repellent
Liquid chipmunk repellent is generally effective at keeping chipmunks away, although it does need to be reapplied regularly. Commercial formulas are available at any home improvement or gardening store, or you can make your own. Boiling a quart of water with two tablespoons of cayenne and two tablespoons of olive oil is some popular recipe. A mixture of three ounces of Epsom salt, one teaspoon of Lysol, and a gallon of water is also safe and effective.
Keep your bird feeder clean
Bird feeders are a major attraction for chipmunks and other rodents, so be sure yours is clean and secure. Regularly clean up spilled seed or discarded shells, and choose your seed carefully. Some types, such as thistle, attract plenty of birds but aren't a favorite snack for chipmunks. Hang your bird feeder from a pole if possible, and choose a rodent-resistant design.
Use a sonic repellent
While most pest control methods are simple and traditional, sonic repellents offer a humane but high-tech solution. These devices emit a high-pitched sound that humans cannot hear but is very uncomfortable for animals, including chipmunks. These devices can effectively keep rodents at bay, but be careful if you have pets. Dogs and cats can also hear higher frequencies, so it may not be a good solution if four-legged friends share your space.
Use dry repellents
Dry repellents may be less effective than liquid ones since they're scattered around the soil instead of applied directly to plants, but combining the two is an excellent strategy. Mothballs are a common rodent repellent, or you can pick up a commercial formula at the hardware store. If you prefer a natural approach, shaking a layer of cayenne pepper on top of the soil can keep chipmunks away.
Humanely trap and release them
If you have particularly persistent pests, you can use a humane trap to relocate them. Choose one designed for squirrels or other large rodents, and be sure to wear gloves while preparing to minimize the amount of human scent on it. Set the trap up according to the manufacturer's instructions, then use peanut butter, sunflower seeds, or peanuts to bait it. Check it at least once or twice a day, and promptly release any trapped chipmunks into a wooded area or other suitable habitat.