post off: what pests battle for your garden?

bear v birdfeeder by christine

Last week, Angela asked for help solving the issue she was having with squirrels rummaging around in her porch planters, and many of you suggested using cayenne pepper to deter the digging. At my house, our biggest problem involved squirrels poaching birdseed from the feeder and scaring the birds. We solved this with a squirrel baffle years ago, and we considered our pest issues solved, that is until a black bear lumbered into the backyard last week and bent the birdfeeder (steel pole and everything) in half. Needless to say, we had a birdfeeder-heavy Father’s Day at my house. While bears aren’t a normal occurrence or your typical garden pest, we would get a stray bear or two every few years in my hometown in New Jersey growing up and it got me thinking. Usually our biggest pests were squirrels, rabbits, garbage-crazed raccoons and the occasional misguided skunk, but we did have to mind the occasional bear. At my aunt’s in Arizona, her biggest problems involve coyotes drowning in the pool. Each region seems to have its own pest issues, and some that wouldn’t occur to me growing up on the Northeast, so do tell: What kinds of pests issues do you have in your neck of the woods, and how do you keep them at bay? – Sarah C.

In this photo: Flickr member [Christine]’s birdfeeder met its demise at the hands of a bear

From our partners
Megan B

I haven’t branched out of containers for gardening because our yard has mole problems. The back yard is the worst!

We also have Coyotes out here in the wilds of Seattle — we hear them howling every night — People have lost their chickens and small dogs and cats to them around here. They keep the other garden-eating critters at bay, mostly.


Eugene (Oregon) mostly has raccoons to deal with. They’re pretty freaking bold, actually. My sister’s dog actually got in a fight with one once (technically, the raccoon won – the dog was okay but she had a bunch of defensive wounds). They dig through the dumpsters all night long. Fairly obnoxious.


Here in newly trendy downtown Jersey City, we have the usual feral cats, pesky squirrels (who I’ve watched actually dig up and TOSS new flowers I’ve just planted in their quest to find and bury nuts that well-meaning apartment dwellers give to them), and cute but dangerous raccoons (they often carry rabies and will attack other animals–and people on occasion!), but I also have a possum that I’m sort of loving. Yes, i know they’re ugly and look like giant white rats. But i reseplaceed and discovered: they eat all the damn slugs that destroy my garden otherwise. AND: They don’t ever attack other animals (the teeth are just for show), they won’t dig up anything (save for a dead body–they eat dead stuff), and they’ve almost never been known to carry rabies. Who knew, right?


We gave up on gardening. The one time we tried to have a vegetable garden we attracted bugs we’d never even seen before! It was so bad that we had to resort to pesticides and still ended up harvesting basically nothing. These days if any of the surviving plants get infested I just spray them with dish soap and water. Or if I’m feeling particularly cruel (and if the bugs are large) I either pinch them off by hand or pick them off with chopsticks. My cat Mr. C takes care of any feral cats, frogs, or locusts that might have the misfortune to wander into our yard. Thankfully we don’t have squirrels, coyotes, gophers, and not many slugs. They’d probably starve in our yard. :-)