Animal Pests

Take action against the animals wreaking havoc on your garden.



Woodchucks, or groundhogs, are found in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, parts of the Midwest, and most of southern Canada. You are most likely to see woodchucks in the early morning or late afternoon, munching on a variety of green vegetation. Woodchucks hibernate during winter. They’re most likely to be a pest in early spring, eating young plants in your gardens.

Fences: A sturdy chicken-wire fence with a chicken-wire-lined trench will keep out woodchucks.

Barriers: Some gardeners protect their young plants from woodchucks by covering them with plastic or floating row covers.

Other Animal Pests

The following animals cause only minor damage to gardens or are pests only in a limited area of the country.

Armadillos: These animals spend most of the day in burrows, coming out at dusk to begin the night’s work of digging for food and building burrows. Their diet includes insects, worms, slugs, crayfish, carrion, and eggs. They will sometimes root for food in gardens or lawns. Armadillos cannot tolerate cold weather, which limits their range to the southern United States.

A garden fence is the best protection against armadillos. You also can trap them.

Prairie dogs: Prairie dogs can be garden pests in the western United States. They will eat most green plants. If they are a problem in your landscape, control them with the same tactics described for ground squirrels and pocket gophers.

Skunks: Skunks eat a wide range of foods. They will dig holes in your lawn while foraging and may eat garden plants. Skunks can be a real problem when challenged by pets or unwary gardeners.

Keep skunks out of the garden by fencing it. You can try treating your lawn with milky disease spores to kill grubs.

Squirrels: Squirrels eat forest seeds, berries, bark, buds, flowers, and fungi. Around homes, they may feed on grain, especially field corn. Damage is usually not serious enough to cause concern. Try using repellents such as those suggested for deer control to protect small areas.