Photo by UNCE.
Photo by UNCE.

Just as aphid season is slowing down, a larger pest problem raises its lovely head – think Bambi! What do you do to prevent deer damage?

Deterrents are the best deer management option. These include fencing, chemical or electronic deer repellents and scare tactics. The best deterrent, fencing, has high initial costs, but these costs may be offset over time and fencing provides the longest lasting results. Chemical repellents sometimes work, but you must reapply them regularly for them to be effective. Devices that scare the deer can provide temporary relief from deer damage, until the deer get used to them.

Many brands of chemical repellants are commercially available. Deer either dislike the taste of the product when they munch on the treated plants or the smell drives them away (it may drive you away for a few days too). Electric fencing can be programmed to shock deer who then learn to stay away. There are also battery operated electric devices that you bait to attract deer. These then shock them, conditioning them to stay away.

Scare devices that incorporate motion or noise can be used to frighten deer from yards, crops and gardens. You can hang metal pie pans or cans around plants. These make noise when they rattle in the wind and may discourage deer. Mylar tape twisted into a spiral, and suspended between posts, makes a buzzing sound when the wind blows over it, which can help discourage deer. Motion-activated ultrasonic noisemakers scare deer using high-frequency sounds which are inaudible to humans, and don’t violate noise ordinances. Other kinds of noisemakers may violate noise ordinances or disturb neighbors and may not be appropriate for use in town. In addition, deer are very adaptable and quickly overcome their fear of most of these devices. Field trials of various scare devices indicated deer become habituated to them after a week of exposure; so be wary of manufacturers’ claims of long-lasting results. Motion sensor devices that are only activated when they detect a deer close by are generally more effective over longer periods. Active barking dogs can keep deer away as well.

If you have found a successful way to prevent or reduce deer damage, let me know, or 887-2252.

The next Grow Your Own class will be Reducing Food Safety Risks in School and Community Gardens, July 22, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Carson City (887-2252) and Gardnerville (782-9960) Cooperative Extension offices.