As flowers bloom and vegetables arrive in summer, they attract wildlife like squirrels, rabbits and deer that can eat or trample all of your hard work. Luckily it is possible to humanely repel all of these animals by using preparations of a popular spice rack staple -- cayenne pepper.
Cayenne pepper is a taste repellent. It is applied to the plant and when an animal tries to taste it, it is repelled by the hot pepper taste. Spraying cayenne pepper on plants will keep deer, rabbits and squirrels as well as stray animals from eating them. It can also work if sprayed on surfaces in the area that these animals may try to eat, lick or smell.
Dried Cayenne Recipe
There are different ways of preparing cayenne pepper repellents and you may have to try different formulas to discover which is most effective. For a basic recipe using cayenne powder from your spice rack, combine 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper in a pot. Boil the mixture for 20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and strain it through cheesecloth. Put it in a spray bottle and spray plants and other surfaces in the area you want to protect, avoiding spraying plants you will eat. Spray each day for two weeks to keep animals at bay.
Fresh Cayenne Recipe
Place three fresh cayenne, jalapeno or habanero peppers in a blender or food processer. Add water slowly until you are able to blend a liquid mixture. Place a piece of cheesecloth over a glass jar and pour the mixture through the cheesecloth. Next, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil along with a squirt of white glue and two drops of dishwashing liquid. Dilute the mixture at a ratio of one part pepper repellent to 10 parts water. Pour it into a spray bottle and spray it on plants and throughout the area you want to control, avoiding plants you will eat.
Repellents will not work indefinitely and have to be reapplied often, especially in hot weather and after rain. Also, since taste repellents such as cayenne peppers cannot be applied to plants you will eat without those plants absorbing their taste, they may be less effective. Some animals will even disregard the taste and eat anyway if they are hungry.
To improve your results with cayenne sprays in edible gardens, place nonedible plants around the perimeter of the garden and edible plants in the middle. Spraying the perimeter may be enough to keep squirrels, deer and rabbits from eating edible plants. If the recipes above are ineffective, you can modify them by increasing the concentration of cayenne. Try a 30 percent concentration in either recipe, or add additional peppers such as jalapenos or habaneros to increase heat. Don't forget to apply the spray after rain.
- Iowa State University Extension: Wildlife In Your Garden: Vertebrates in the Vegetables!
- Utah State University Cooperative Extension: How Do I Keep Stray Animals Out of My Yard?
- North Dakota State University: Questions on Deer
- North Dakota State University: Questions on Rabbits
- North Dakota State University: Questions on Squirrels