It is an all too common experience to wake up in the morning to find my entire garden “rototilled” by this troublesome mammal, the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcintus), having destroyed my garden in its rambling search for grubs and other soil dwelling invertebrates.
This unintended “aeration” of my garden has cost me a fortune in decimated hostas, heuchera, and other woodland garden plants. In the past, I simply hoped that my garden did not come between a wondering armadillo and its food. Finally, in 2012 I decided to take action.
As we Missourians well know, the armadillo named for the Spanish word meaning “little armored one,” has become an increasing nuisance to home gardens every year as they expand their native range northward.
Interestingly enough prior to the 1850s, armadillos were not native to the United States and were only first sighted in Missouri in the 1970s.
Since then, they have caused notorious damage in gardens, uprooting small and large established perennials and annuals, digging 4- to 5-inch “v” shaped holes throughout vulnerable home gardens.
If you have ever observed armadillos in the wild, they are never on a mission to go in any one particular direction, but ramble away like piglets in the leaf litter of a forest floor, going one direction and then another as their nose directs them to their soil dwelling food in a panicked frenzy.
I have found that in small garden situations, the creation of fence to “guide them away from your garden” as they dig their path of destruction is an effective way to prevent armadillo damage to plants.
I constructed a 4-foot high fence out of local cedar logs and chicken wire. Experts will tell you that whatever material you make your fence out of, it is important that it be slanted at a 40-degree angle.
Armadillos can dig very well, therefore a line of chicken wire or hardware cloth should be buried at least 1 foot below the soil’s surface to prevent them from easily burrowing under the fence.
“But can armadillos climb?” a concerned gardener may ask before constructing such a fence. The answer is yes and no.
Armadillos can climb particularly when cornered, this I have seen, but the process was very awkward and slow. Most times, a fence is sufficient to prevent them from coming into a garden situation since armadillos lack that all too familiar crafty curiosity of other garden animal pests.
If the cost of constructing a simple fence is too much, an electric fence poly-wire can be established 3 to 4 inches above the ground to deter their access into your garden.
This method should be used with caution, and I have not personally tested out the effectiveness of this method of control.
Page 2 of 2 - Other methods experts suggest are trapping armadillos in live traps that are 10 by 12 by 32 inches in size baited with rotting fruit.
It is important that pieces of wood or other material be securely placed in front of the trap to guide the “rambling” armadillos into the trap, but even with this, success is difficult to achieve.
Similar to any integrated pest management plan, methods of control can be combined.
As we prepare for the upcoming planting season, I wish you all luck with preventing armadillos from entering your home garden.