Today begins a new chapter in my garden, one I have been avoiding for more than a decade: Total War on Chipmunks.
For more than ten years I have been generously sharing my garden with hordes of chipmunks. I have several long stone walls and pathways which the chipmunks have colonized from the beginning of the existence of the garden. (You may remember that I created the garden from scratch – there were no walls, no paths, no perennial borders, no trees no chipmunks! etc when I began). The chipmunks moved into the walls even before I had planted the first plant. I have always known that chipmunks are notorious hosts for lyme ticks, and that they are often suspected of digging up bulbs and tunneling under beds, but I have practiced an attitude of mutual tolerance for the destructive wildlife that inhabits, or invades, my garden. Yes, every year I threaten to get a BB gun to shoot deer and rabbits, but I never do, it’s just a cathartic exercise. Instead I put up a deer fence, spray all kinds of stinky preventative sprays, plant as much rabbit/deer resistant material as possible and turn as much of a blind eye as I can to the damage that the critters cause, thinking that for all the damage critters do, I get to enjoy the beauty of a natural garden when a hummingbird comes to eat, a pair of mallard ducks nest under the juniper, or a mother fox brings her cubs to frolic on the large rock in the back corner.
The era of mutual coexistence came to an end yesterday. I arrived home after two weeks away to find the chipmunks had chewed through the hose of the gas grill again! My husband had only just replaced it a month ago. They are gnawing at the knobs on the grill so it looks like a cat has been scratching at them. They ate a hole in the gas tank for the mower and when I chased one (yes, it has come to that) I watched it very agilely jump up into the wall of the house through a hole not before seen by me under a pipe. They have also apparently run out of real estate in the stone walls and paths so have begun construction under the stone steps of the patio.
I have been willing to share the garden with them, but not the house.
I have known about The Bucket Method for years, but claimed it was not for me. After all, up to now, there was no reason to eliminate the chipmunks as long as they kept up their end of our bargain. I have tried the moth ball approach, which is putting moth balls in the chipmunk burrows to encourage them to move on to someplace else. Last time I did that a few weeks ago, the next day the moth balls had been tossed out. I couldn’t believe it, the chipmunks were getting the better of me, humbling, and it wasn’t working. So seeing how they have become greedy for more domains, yesterday in a pique I googled “chipmunk exterminator”. What came up was discouraging. There is no easy way to get rid of chipmunks. The Bucket Method is the one most recommended, followed by the use of rat traps. Poison is not effective. Also suggested is the use of Downy Unstoppables spread around holes and burrows. This I did yesterday. The garden smells like a laundromat. I followed a lively convo on the topic here on PestKill.com
For those of you who are lucky enough not to have need of the knowledge, let me teach you The Bucket Method. You take a bucket, black is best, although unproven, partially fill it with water, cover the water with sunflower seed – black oiled sunflower seeds are recommended as best – provide a ramp up into the bucket, but not out of the bucket. The chipmunk goes into the bucket to get the seeds, and drowns. Then of course, someone has to remove the deceased chipmunks from the bucket and put them I don’t know where. That is a problem I have not yet encountered. Everyone says The Bucket Method is effective. Time will tell. Anyone have chipmunk war stories to share?
The rabbits and I continue to coexist, for the moment.