Image by Scott Martin
By Jackie Rhoades
Getting rid of armadillos is no longer a problem reserved for Texans. They were first seen in the Lone Star State in the 1850s and over the next hundred years, they’d waddled their way to Alabama and beyond. Armadillo control has become a concern throughout the southwest and beyond. Eventually, they’ll be found in any state where winters are mild. They’re known for tearing up flower beds in search of bugs and worms and leaving 3×5 inch divots in the lawn where they’ve dug up the turf looking for grubs. Before you ask about how to get rid of armadillos, you need to know a little about them.
The nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcintus) is nocturnal, which means it does most of its foraging at night. Its strong legs and claws are built for tearing apart termite mounds and digging burrows that can reach 15 feet long. They eat bugs and grubs and worms, but the claim that they carry and spread leprosy is largely unprovable and unfounded. One of the reasons getting rid of armadillos is so difficult is that they aren’t territorial. The one that’s in your yard today may not be the one that did all that damage last week.
How to Stop Armadillos in the Garden
Unfortunately, the best method to stop armadillos from entering your yard is not only the most expensive, but might also be the least attractive. A stout fence with no spaces big enough for the critters to crawl through and buried a foot or more underground so they can’t dig under it, is the best form of armadillo control.
But if you’re not agreeable to living inside a fenced fortress, using their own biology against them might be a more practical and effective method of getting rid of armadillos.
Armadillos have a great sense of smell and a large part of their brain is dedicated to it, so the answer to how to get rid of armadillos is fairly simple. Make your yard stink! Yes, strong scented, eye-stinging scents like those of vinegar or ammonia or good old pine cleaner can stop armadillos in their tracks, driving them from their borrows and your yard. Rumor has it, these roly-poly creatures are offended by the smell of pine needles or pine bark. You might try switching to one of these as mulch for your garden beds.
There is no repellent currently registered for armadillo control although there are several ultrasonic pest devices that claim to do much the same thing.
Trapping and Killing Armadillos
If easier, less confrontational methods fail, you might want to try trapping your midnight visitors. There are several devices available that are designed to capture without killing. Armadillos are partial to over ripe fruit and earthworms as bait. Try setting out a dish of bait for several nights before loading the trap to capture their interest first.
Killing armadillos may be your last and only solution to ridding your yard of this nocturnal pest. These animals are so focused on their search for food they notice little else, including flashlights and people! If you choose this method of getting rid of armadillos, make sure you check local ordinances governing the use of firearms and weapons.
As you can see, there are a variety of methods to stop armadillos from destroying your yard. Test them all and see which works best for you.