CHEMICAL UPDATE: Vertebrate Pest Controls

Vertebrate pests — rodents, birds and deer — can be incredibly difficult pests for landscape managers. Not only are these pests a little more clever than others, their appeal to human sentiment can create something of a public relations predicament.

Dealing with vertebrate pests in urban environments poses special hazards. Pets are easily lured to poison baits and traps, and shooting is not permitted in cities. Plus, such animals are often classified as wildlife, which means they may have a “season” and may be regulated by state or federal wildlife agencies.

Non-lethal alternatives such as live traps, decoys and exclusion (fences) may be effective. Unfortunately, these tactics may be impractical or ineffective in many situations. Chemical repellents and anti-feedants are other tools that managers can employ.

  • Geese

    Methyl anthranilate and anthraquinone are anti-feedants effective against Canada geese — by far, the most difficult bird pest. Other methods — herding dogs, dead goose decoys and sound cannons, to name a few — can be useful. However, bad-tasting antifeedants have been shown to be a reliably effective and non-intrusive strategy.

  • Deer and rodents

    Several substances can deter deer and rodent feeding through unpleasant odors or tastes. Castor oil is a common rodent repellent. Pepper (or capsaicin, derived from peppers), egg solids, the fungicide thiram, bitrex and several other substances also can reduce feeding through the unpleasant tastes or smells they impart.

Poison baits may be more suitable for rural settings. Interior rodent controls may also be registered for outdoor use where rats and mice may be a problem (around dumpsters, for example).

Deer and rodents can be amazingly persistent. Some animals apparently are able to overcome their initial aversion to certain products, especially when particularly hungry. And scientific research on repellents and antifeedants has shown mixed results. Frustratingly, what works in one situation may not work in another, sometimes for reasons that aren't clear. So be persistent and ready to employ a variety of strategies.

Aside from commercial products, stories abound regarding other substances for repelling animals. Soap, human hair and many other materials are frequently mentioned. In research, these materials may show some effectiveness, but tend not to perform as well as commercial products.

Supplier contact information
Agrisel USA 678-441-0030;
Airepel 800-468-6324;
Becker-Underwood 800-232-5907;
Bird-B-Gone Inc. 800-392-6915;
Bird-X Inc. 800-662-5021;
Bobbex Inc. 800-792-4449;
Cleary Chemical Corp. 800-524-1662;
DeerBusters.Com 888-422-3337;
Elston Mfg. 800-845-1385;
Mole Med Inc. 800-255-2527;
Taminco, Inc. 800-426-3820;
Tree World 800-252-6051;
Woodstream Corp. 800-800-1819;

Flight Control Airepel Anthraquinone
Rejex-It Migrate, Fog Force Becker-Underwood Methyl anthranilate
Goose-B-Gone Bird-B-Gone Inc. Methyl anthranilate
Goose Chase Bird-X Inc. Methyl anthranilate
Bobbex-G Bobbex Inc. “Natural” materials
Defiant UCB Chemical, Agrisel Thiram
Tree Guard Becker-Underwood Bitrex
Scoot Deer Bird-X Inc. Capsaicin**
Bobbex Bobbex Inc. “Natural” materials
Spotrete F, WDG*** Cleary Chemical Thiram
Professional Deer & Rabbit Repellent DeerBusters.Com Ammonium salts of fatty acids
Deer I DeerBusters.Com Garlic, pepper, eggs
Systemic Tablets DeerBusters.Com Bitrex
Hinder Pace International Ammonium soaps of fatty acids
Plantskydd Deer Repellent Tree World Dried blood
Defiant UCB Chemical, Agrisel Thiram
Deer-Off/Havahart Woodstream Corp. Garlic, pepper**, egg solids
Rodents (squirrels, rabbits, moles, gophers, chipmunks)
Scoot Mole Bird-X Inc. Castor oil
Scoot Squirrel Bird-X Inc. Capsaicin**
Bobbex-R Bobbex Inc. Pepper**, “natural derivatives”
Spotrete F, WDG* Cleary Chemical Thiram
Mole Repellent DeerBusters.Com Castor oil
Professional Deer & Rabbit Repellent DeerBusters.Com Ammonium salts of fatty acids
Predator urine DeerBusters.Com Urine
Gopher Getter Elston Mfg. Strychnine bait
Mole Med Mole Med Inc. Castor oil
Plantskydd Deer Repellent Tree World Dried blood
Defiant UCB Chemical, Agrisel Thiram
Poison baits Four suppliers that market rat and mouse rodenticides to professionals are:
Agrisel USA: 678-441-0030;
Bell Laboratories: 800-558-1003;
LiphaTech: 800-558-1003;
* Neither the author nor publisher endorses products listed here. Nor is criticism implied for products not included. Effectiveness is not rated here. Always read and follow label instructions.
** Capsaicin, the substance that gives peppers their hot taste, is essentially the same ingredient as “pepper” or “pepper extract.”
***May not be registered in all states.

Sometimes, it's burrowing or some other destructive activity (such as with moles and gophers) that needs to be stopped, and the only solution may be removal of the animals. Trapping or lethal controls, if permitted, will be necessary.

Most vertebrate chemical controls have an EPA-approved label, which you must follow. This listing is for preliminary planning only and is not a substitute for label information. Remember to check local ordinances and state and federal laws governing wildlife.

The following list includes products — mostly repellents and anti-feedants, but also some poison baits — that are currently available. We do not rate efficacy here. Contact the suppliers with the information shown on page 20 for more information.

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© 2020 Penton Media Inc.

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