When you spend a ton of time outside, you want to keep your yard looking fresh and healthy. This is especially true if you grow herbs or other edible plants; for you, gardening isn't just a hobby, it's a food source.
So this is why it's especially frustrating to find gardens in disarray overnight, or lawns plagued by a multitude of those classic holes all over the grass.
Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your chipmunk problem?
How can you stop chipmunks from destroying your yard and keep them (and your insanity) away? Keep reading for all the facts you need.
What's Not to Love About Chipmunks?
These animals may seem cute, but they can cause serious destruction front and back yard. Here are some of the most nerve-wracking and annoying ways a chipmunk population can affect your yard.
They make tunnels in your front and backyard
Chipmunks are burrowing animals, which means that they create a system of tunnels in which to take residence.
There are two types of chipmunk tunnels:
- Shallow "summer tunnels"
- Deeper "winter tunnels."
Because these tunnels have a network of several different connections, there can be a multitude of different, unsightly holes scattered throughout your yard. The more chipmunks you have, the more holes you're likely to have. Not only are these tunnels ugly, but over time, the hollowness of the ground below your home, garage, or storage shed can do damage to its structure.
And from an aesthetic perspective, it can be maddening to fill a chipmunk hole... only to have it reappear!
The most effective way to fill chipmunk holes for good is to first remove the chipmunks that live inside it.
Otherwise, it's only a temporary fix; filling a hole with a chipmunk den still living inside means that they'll just create a new tunnel to reach the surface. Also, chipmunks breed so rapidly that unless the family is driven away or eliminated, there will always be a new generation of chipmunks to cause trouble.
Chipmunks will eat everything in your garden
We all know that the chipmunk (like its cousin, the squirrel) loves acorns and nuts.
But what do chipmunks eat in the garden?
These animals will also happily feast on fresh berries, herbs, and even vegetables like celery and mushrooms. In some cases, these animals will even snack on the flowers and leaves growing in potted plants!
Because of this varied palette, many people will find their garden plants uprooted and the leaves chewed through.
Because of the lifelong growth of a chipmunk's front two teeth, they're always looking to munch on something. Those who grow their own food will find that chipmunks can steal growing crops in the night, nearly uninhibited. Without proper repellents, it's likely that chipmunks will destroy your garden as soon as you replant it.
How to stop chipmunks from eating plants?
Target the problem that's making all the trouble: the chipmunks themselves.
What's That Sound?
If you've ever been close enough to a chipmunk to alarm it, you immediately know what we're talking about.
No, not a smooth croon like Alvin and his Chipmunk brothers; chipmunks as a species make a distinct chirping sound when they feel threatened.
The purpose of this shrill noise is both to scare off the approaching predator, and to warn other chipmunks in the burrow of impending danger. When chipmunks come into contact with humans, their reaction is to shriek in fear (instead of attacking), or run away. Many times, these two are performed in conjunction with one another.
While we all can agree that this is a better alternative to treating a flesh wound (with all the bacteria they have the potential to carry in their mouths) from a scared chipmunk, we can also agree that this noise is extremely unpleasant to hear when you're trying to relax in your yard. And unfortunately, one or multiple chipmunks taking up residence on your property means that this noise will be happening almost any time you step outside.
How to Make Chipmunks Leave Your Yard On Their Own
When chipmunks have overstayed their welcome, it's time to get proactive.
You don't have to be a chipmunk killer in order to rid them of your property. By taking these simple steps, you can have your yard back without doing any harm, or attracting unwanted species in the process.
What Smells Do Chipmunks Hate?
If you've ever watched a chipmunk, you may have realized that they are heavily reliant on their noses to lead them to food, shelter, and the rest of their pack. Chipmunks always stop and sniff the air every few meters, so it's very easy to fool a chipmunk using scents alone.
Chipmunks can't stand strong smells. Fome examples of smells chipmunks hate are...
These scents (minus the garlic) are usually available in essential oils, for sale at many local health food stores.
To create your own homemade chipmunk repellent, blend a few drops of one of these oils with water inside a spray bottle. Also, you can mash or puree garlic cloves to achieve the same type of home remedy repellent.
By using a scent repellent, you can make a chipmunk think that a place in your yard is unpleasant. For instance, by spraying a specific plant in your yard with a scent solution (or scattering pureed garlic around it), you can make a chipmunk think that this plant is unpleasant to eat. Not only will your problem chipmunk not want to take a bite out of the plant anymore, but it will not even want to hang around the smell!
This will drive the chipmunk out on its own volition, no harm done. This is also a recommended home remedy to repel families and full communities of chipmunks, as they'll be all repulsed by the unpleasant smell in the same vicinity at the same time.
Can You Scare A Chipmunk Away?
Being such a small species, the chipmunk will instinctively fear predators.
This fear can be sparked in the form of seeing a predator, smelling a predator with their high-powered noses, or simply sensing a predator lurking nearby, waiting to attack.
There are several lifelike owls for sale in stores as well as online retailers which can make a chipmunk believe that it's being hunted.
By placing one of these owls in a prominent position in your yard, you are signaling to the chipmunks that there is a known enemy in the yard, and giving them a reason to fear your property.
Additionally, the urine of a potential predator can strike fear in a chipmunk. Now, we aren't suggesting that you place this urine yourself, but there's an instantly easy method to getting this done. If you've got a dog or even a cat, let them walk around the yard and use the bathroom. No pet? No problem. Someone you know will probably have a dog. You can invite your friend and their pup over to get the job done.
Lastly, there are certain devices manufactured to emit sound waves that scare away chipmunks. You can set these up in your yard and maintain them year-round in order to drive off these creatures. Many of these soundwave-producing electronic devices are operated by solar power, which means that maintaining them is as easy as making sure they're not defective from time to time.
When Should I Resort to Trapping For My Lawn?
If the previous options haven't worked to rid your yard of these pests, a trap is the next logical step in the process.
This will take your chipmunk elimination to the next level, as trapping is largely effective but can be a tiring and draining process.
There are a few different types of traps on the market, but their main characteristics can be summed up in two ways:
- No-kill chipmunk traps
- Lethal chipmunk traps
Generally speaking, no-kill traps are used only to restrain chipmunks in a humane way until they can be released in a wooded area away from your yard.
These traps are metal boxes around the size of a shoebox with a spring-activated door. When a chipmunk takes the bait set inside by humans, the spring will activate the door to close behind the chipmunk, trapping it inside. This type of trap is considered safe and humane, but the responsibility falls on the human to check for captive chipmunks on a regular basis and release them into the wild. Otherwise, they can suffer inside the box and possibly die.
This method is effective in trapping chipmunks for a short time, but most of the time, chipmunks don't learn their lesson. There's nothing stopping a chipmunk from being released from the trap, only to make his way right back into your yard. Many times, this method doesn't effectively drive chipmunks away for good.
A box trap is recommended mostly for one or two problem chipmunks, but not an entire colony living (and breeding) below your lawn.
Poison, Bucket Traps For Your Yard
If all else fails, you may have to take your chipmunk elimination to an even further level. This involves lethal forms of chipmunk expulsion from your property, which can take place in a few different ways.
How Can I Poison a Chipmunk?
If you're still finding your yard ransacked by chipmunks despite all your harmless approaches, it's time to look into the options that no one wants to have to use: poisons.
There are a few different types of chipmunk poisons available in stores and online for purchase, and these generally work by inducing internal bleeding within chipmunks after ingestion, leading to rapid death.
Poison pellets and baits are the most popular options on the market when you're looking into lethal baiting methods. These small briquettes can be hidden in the yard from other animals like pets, or the curious hands of kids playing outside.
Because of the constant growth of a chipmunk's teeth, the chipmunk will be attracted to these poison products due to their brick-like form.
They will want to crunch down on these hard objects, which releases the flow of poison into their bodies.
How Does the "Chipmunk Bucket of Death" Work?
One of the most popular traps circling the internet involves a 5 gallon bucket, rolling bar, and side ramps. This chipmunk bucket trap is famed among DIY-ers and farmers alike for its simplicity and versatility.
Here's how to make it work:
- The rolling bar (a cylindrical piece fashioned over a steel axle, sort of like a small metal rolling pin) is placed over the top of the bucket and water is placed inside to cement the bucket in place and hold the chipmunk.
- Ramps to help the chipmunk climb up to the mouth of the bucket are placed on the sides to lure a chipmunk to the rolling bar, where a sticky bait (usually peanut butter) is placed.
- Once the chipmunk steps onto the bar to take the bait, its center of gravity pulls it downward into the water, where it drowns.
This trap is recommended by many for its easy setup and DIY feel. However, this effective chipmunk killer is a double-edged sword;
The bucket trap is also not recommended due to the fact that waterlogged chipmunk bodies can carry even more disease and parasites than a chipmunk body by itself.
Use extreme caution when dumping the water and chipmunk bodies. Be sure to steer clear of any area where kids can play or household animals can hang out.
A Word of Warning
When you make the decision to use lethal chipmunk traps, the aim is to rid your yard of chipmunks by killing them or causing them bodily harm.
This means that you will have to be patient during the process, especially with a colony of chipmunks that are scattered around different levels of their burrow, below your property and out of sight.
You'll be ridding your lawn of these guys one by one, so the bigger the population, the longer you'll be waiting for a chipmunk-free yard.
Also, using these types of traps means that you will be responsible for disposing of all the bodies of dead chipmunks, which is much easier said than done.
Life is busy enough in between work, family, and social obligations. When you decide to take lethal measures to combat the chipmunks in your yard, you're effectively piling one more chore onto your plate. And don't forget that this must be done in a timely fashion, because a dead chipmunk will attract serious household vermin and pests, not to mention the possibility of infectious disease.
If you're really adventourous, you might try something like the below where a couple of folks put a hose in a chipmunks den.
Good idea or bad idea? Take a look.
The Bottom Line
There is no surefire method to clearing all the chipmunks out of your garden with one fell swoop. These creatures are smart, quick, and tremendously energetic.
Using just one of these methods alone may not do the trick. However, just because one effort fails, it doesn't mean you have to live with chipmunk infestation for good.
For best results, mix and match the suggestions from this article to achieve maximum success in your battle against chipmunks.