Chipmunks are rodents in the squirrel family (Sciuridae). They typically find the ground environment habitable, but you will also spot them climbing up high. The destructive pets weigh about 3 ounces and are five to six inches long.
Chipmunks eat tomatoes, among other fruit and vegetable plants. They are a beautiful sight to behold until they reveal their troublesome nature by decimating your tomato yield and pooping all around your yard.
With them around, you also face the risk of disease spread to other healthy plants.
As a gardener, it’s essential to identify these pests early and know what attracts them to your garden. Additionally, you want to know how to get rid of them to protect your tomato harvest.
How To Detect The Presence Of Chipmunks In Your Garden?
Detecting chipmunks in your garden is no rocket science. The destructive pests are omnivorous and often visit human dwellings for water, food, and shelter, mainly targeting tomatoes, flowering bulbs, and young shoots.
However, chipmunks cause a wake of destruction around your yard since they trample and excrete on plants they don’t eat. If you have birds around, chipmunks will also forage on their food, eggs, and chicks.
The pesky pests also have a penchant for hiding themselves in tight places. Should this happen, you are bound to hear them chirping or scratching in outdoor structures, decks, and under-house foundations.
A tell-tale sign of chipmunk infestation is the presence of their excrement and chew marks on fruits, wood, and food stockpiles. One or two of them in your residence is enough to attract a handful of others.
Below is a list of common chipmunk attractants.
- Flower bulbs
- Bark from shrubs
- Pet food
- Plant seeds
- Human food
- Caterpillars and insects
How To Keep Chipmunks Away?
There are several ways to control chipmunks that range from blocking their entry points, trapping and releasing, or using homemade repellents.
Chipmunks are general rodents which means you will employ similar methods to control other rodents such as rats and mice.
Let’s get down to each of these methods in more detail.
1. Exclusion And Habitat Modification
The Humane Society and animal experts recommend this method the most.
Exclusion is all about making changes to your yard to reduce chipmunks’ destruction and presence.
Chipmunks are diggers and borrowers by nature and can dig up to 30 feet underground. They can dig under fences to get into your yard or flower bed.
To counter their burrowing tendencies, use the exclusion method by:
- Burying hardware cloth or other barrier material under and around your plants to the maximum depth. You can also use this barrier around foundations, decks, patios, and retaining walls.
- Ensure this barrier is in continuation with your fence and there are no gaps in between.
- If doing this on a flower bed, ensure to refill the flower bed with dirt before planting your bulbs.
- The other option for you would be to surround your home with a plant-free gravel border.
- Use a galvanized wire mesh to erect a 2×4 frame around and over your flower beds. You should have a screen door on one side to give you access to tend to your plants. This option helps you keep most rodents away.
- Chipmunks detest open spaces; thus, an excellent way to keep them off your yard would be to leave a considerable space between trees and shrubs.
- You should remove leaves, twigs, firewood, or debris from your yard to prevent chipmunks from finding easy cover.
A lot of effort and labor goes into this, but the result is worthwhile.
2. Use Repellents
There are many repellent options you could choose from when it comes to repelling chipmunks from your garden. First off are commercial repellents the Humane Society recommends.
Besides getting rid of chipmunks, commercial repellents also work simultaneously on other rodents as well.
- You can use mothballs around your garden; however, the smell of mothballs deteriorates faster. Additionally, the chemical compound it contains – naphthalene, is an organic fossil fuel product that is harmful to human health.
- Thiram: Apply it to bulbs, stems, and barks.
- Bonide: Safe to use with children and pets around.
You could also use natural repellents to get rid of the irritant pests.
Human hairs act as an excellent natural repellent that you could acquire from the barbershop. Sprinkle them around the perimeter of your garden, which helps to keep the rodents away.
An excellent alternative to human hair is cat hair. Brush it off your cat and sprinkle them across your garden or places squirrels or chipmunks frequent.
The urine of animals such as the fox has a pungent smell that is an irritant to chipmunks. You can collect the urine from zoos or other places designated for wild animals.
Beware that this smell could irritate you as well.
You could also coyote urine which acts as a deer repellent and is quite effective in repelling chipmunks.
Did you know that hot spices can keep chipmunks away from your garden? They hate the pungent smell that emanates from hot spices such as chili powder and cayenne pepper. Most of these spices are locally available in grocery stores.
After purchasing, sprinkle the spices around the ground near the plants or the perimeter of your garden. Some more options to go for include castor oil and garlic spray.
Castor oil has a stinky smell that, when soaked into the ground, becomes unpleasant for chipmunks.
Some sources suggest blending garlic cloves, jalapeno peppers, along with water for best results.
- Ideally, you should mash the ingredients while cooking and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Next, strain the pulp and pour the liquid into a spray bottle.
- Ensure to add a teaspoonful of vegetable oil and a drop of liquid dishwashing soap to make the solution stick on plants.
The spray easily gets washed away by rain; thus, you should remember to respray every time it rains.
3. Trapping And Releasing
Apart from using effective repellents, you could trap chipmunks and release them into the wild away from your garden.
However, you may want to review the by-laws and procedures you need to follow in your area regarding the trapping of chipmunks.
You could be prohibited from relocating chipmunks in some areas.
How to trap and relocate a chipmunk?
- Acquire a trap, preferably ten to twenty inches long, having small wire mesh.
- Place the traps in undercover areas where there is frequent movement, near burrows, or heightened chipmunk activity.
- Place bait inside the trap. You could smear peanut butter on the trap’s trigger’s plate.
- Check the trap regularly for chipmunks trapped. Should you find them, release them in their preferred environment five miles away from your property.
4. Use Decoys
Another effective way to get rid of chipmunks from your garden is using decoys. They serve to frighten the chipmunks, keeping them away. There is a range of predator decoys you could use for this purpose.
Common natural predators that prey on chipmunks include coyotes, foxes, owls, and hawks. Have their artificial decoys on your property and regularly rotate them around your yard. Chipmunks are clever and will quickly notice the decoy if you keep them long in one place.
You should keep decoys for owls and hawks up and above and regularly shift them from one tree or post to another.
Don’t let the chipmunks see you moving them. For the fox or coyote decoy, you could hide them under bushes or overhanging branches, only ensuring their noses are visible.
The chipmunks will think a predator is lurking around and keep off. Get all the four decoys if possible for the maximum effect and variation.
If you’ve had a chipmunk menace in your garden, we hope the solutions offered will relieve you of their destructive activities and prevent them from eating your lovely tomato fruits.
However, the first step is to ensure you remove all possible attractants from your garden.
Common attractants for chipmunks could be anything ranging from pet food, water sources such as leaking pipes, and shelter provided by debris in your garden.
Job Kiniale is a certified crop scientist and gardening enthusiast with a passion to help beginning gardeners navigate their newfound hobby. Let’s talk about plants, backyard ideas, and general gardening advice. Outside work, Job loves spending time with family.