I like most creepy crawlies and garden critters, so I no longer apply chemicals or pesticides to my gardens to prevent them from devouring plants and flowers. Outside is their home, not mine, so I want to respect their living space. Rather than applying harsh pesticides, I use an all-natural solution that keeps anything from rabbits and chipmunks to Japanese beetles and caterpillars from destroying flowers and greenery. This solution is a bit spicy and sends a “Stay Away!” warning to those creatures who chew holes in leaves and steal your tulip heads. My surefire critter repellent is cayenne pepper.
Be Gone, Bug B Gone
Before I began using cayenne pepper, Bug B Gone® was my go-to solution to get rid of the rose-feasting Japanese beetle. I found that to get it to work, however, I had to sprinkle so much Bug B Gone on the roses that the dusty powder would turn my red and magenta roses white. To make matters worse, I’m sure I was killing bumble bees, butterflies, and ladybugs, as well. This thought made me cringe. I also tried the plastic beetle bags. They seemed to attract all the beetles in the area from miles around, rather than keep them away. These just weren’t practical solutions, and they were horrible for the environment.
Enter the Game Changer, Cayenne Pepper
About 15 years ago, I looked for natural solutions to pest control. Once I started using cayenne pepper, I realized the color blended in with the environment and it worked well. I just had to make sure I reapplied it after it rained or it was windy because it would wash or blow off. All it took was a few shakes over leaves and flowers to stop plant infestations and to prevent flower stealing. I’ve used it to stop:
Bunnies from stealing tulip heads.
Chipmunks from chewing through the base of my clematis and snap dragon plants.
Red lily beetles from destroying lily flowers and leaves.
Caterpillars and slugs from eating hostas.
Japanese beetles from eating roses and their leaves.
With some pests you will have to be more vigilant ̶ like with red lily and Japanese beetles ̶ because they lay their eggs on the underbelly of the leaves. I recommend sprinkling cayenne pepper all over the flowers and plant once a day or every other day, until they are gone. Although a little goes a long way, it’s OK to apply it liberally. Cayenne pepper won’t hurt the plant or critters, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying expensive pesticides.
Recommendations for Edibles
Just be careful when using it on vegetables and fruits unless you like spicy food. If you don’t like heat, be sure to wash it off before you eat them. Usually you can just put it on the leaves and it will keep the bunnies and groundhogs from eating the vegetables. I have also found that using raised garden beds and a short fence for vegetables and fruits helps to keep slugs and groundhogs from eating fruits and vegetables. I pot my herbs, spices, and lettuce to keep slugs off them.
Offer Sacrificial Plants
Because I do enjoy wildlife and feeding them, I plant wild strawberries as ground cover on the side of my house and away from my vegetable and fruit garden. The ground hogs love to eat them and so do I. Wild strawberries grow like wildfire, so there is plenty for everyone. And the strawberries keep them distracted and away from my other edibles.