En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 04, 2011

From: Manchester, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Pests
Title: Varmints disturbing plants in NH
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I planted herbs and perennials, then put paper down and bark. At first an animal just disturbed the paper around the plants, exposing it. Today two plants are dug up and are completely gone. No sign of what was there. I am suspicious that it is either a squirrel, possibly a skunk but have not smelled one. Can you tell me what I can do to prevent varmints from disturbing my plants???

ANSWER:

Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to know exactly what is rooting around in your garden and why, but we can give you a little advice on how to deal with the situation.

First of all you will have to figure out what type of varmint is digging around and why.  Is it something like a skunk digging for grubs?  Is it a squirrel burying nuts or looking for ones he thinks you may have covered with your plants? Or is it a groundhog just enjoying a midnight snack? Although you do not mention what type of paper (and is it in layers or shredded?) you used under the bark mulch, it is unlikely that either is what the animal is after.

You'll have to figure out whether the critter is going for the plant or the insects in the ground but when all is said and done, you have to realize that you are trying to create a garden where these varmints do their "grocery shopping".  All you can really do is plant enough to share with them or introduce a "night watchman" that they consider a predator (a dog?) to scare them off.  That scenario could escalate and become much like that cinematic classic "Caddyshack"!

 

More Pests Questions

Unknown pest of Texas Mountain Laurel from Round Rock TX
May 24, 2012 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel that is being denuded from the top down by something unseen. It's not the Genista moth larvae, as there are no worms and no webbing visible. The only clue that it might...
view the full question and answer

Petals not developing on blackeyed susans from Nashville TN
July 05, 2011 - I have an established "patch" of black eyes susans. This year, the leaves are beautiful, the centers black..but the petals are practically non existent. They didn't seem to develop correctly. Any...
view the full question and answer

Mealy bugs on plants in Washington, DC
July 07, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, There is this white stuff, looking like snow flakes, that is attacking my office plants. I use gasduster to blow it off of them, but that does not stop it from reappearing. Wh...
view the full question and answer

Swarming insects on non-native willow in Washington PA
September 25, 2011 - I have had a very large, beautiful pillow willow bush/tree growing next to our garage for about 8 years. Last year at the end of August, it began to attract white-faced hornets and yellow jackets by t...
view the full question and answer

Sticky material dripping from tree in Austin
July 22, 2012 - The tree in my backyard is dripping what I surmise is sap - a thick,fdrake1@ sticky substance in July. What kind of tree is it and is there anything one can do prevent this from happening? Thank you...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center