Beetles and Deer

The Author 2 cc

My sister-in-law mentions the cute goat as she posts pictures of my brother helping to relocate three alligators out east over the July 4 weekend. I suppose it’s in our DNA, the interest in animals and lending them a hand.

Deer in particular get a bad rap, especially since some have a taste for our gardens. Tulips and hostas seem to be a favorite treat, according to ladies I meet when I talk to clubs. I have tried all of the standard deer-repelling suggestions from placing soap and hair around garden beds to a fertilizer made from a Wisconsin sewer system.

My current technique is to keep deer at the edge of my woods-surrounded property with a salt block and periodic servings of corn. I don’t recommend that for more developed areas.

One husband sent me this email about a deer pen he built that did the trick:

“The most critical dimension is the width of 10 feet. Our pen is 65 feet long, but any length should actually work. The two long sides are made from cattle panels of 1/4 inch wire mesh of 6 inches by 8 inches. Each panel is 48 inches tall and 16 feet long. These panels are attached to steel tee posts placed 5.5 feet apart to form two long sides that are 10 feet apart.

I used 12 foot metal gates for the ends just because they were available. They hang over a little, but the deer don’t seem to mind. The 10 foot spacing side to side has so far never allowed a deer to jump in. If they did try it, they would probably crash into the side opposite to the side they had jumped. Also, we put 18 inch high chicken wire around the bottom of the ends and both sides. It is just tied on the ends so that after moving the gates I can use a tiller inside the pen. This keeps out the rabbits and turtles.

We have had this setup a long time. It took some labor and material to build it, but it has been worth it. Now we can raise green beans, okra, lettuce, etc. without having it eaten.”

Now in the category of non-welcome bugs, Japanese beetles are currently decimating gardens. When these invasive bugs were first spotted in Missouri, people were asking for traps to help catch them. Pheromone traps have proven to be, for the most part, counter-productive. People tend to hang them like birdhouses when they should be located downwind, at the edge of the property, so pheromones aren’t attracting more Japanese beetles.

I still do the garden inspection early morning with a can of soapy water. Once I spot the beetles, I place the can under them and they fall in to drown.

A beekeeping friend has suggested making a spray out of their dead little beetle bodies but I haven’t tried that yet. Right now I am negotiating with the newest culprit knocking my hummingbird feeder off the shepherd’s hook at night.

Well, negotiating is not quite the word, more like trying to be inhospitable. I suspect I would be taking the same approach with alligators but who knows.

Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a certified gardener, beekeeper and sometimes cook. Copyright 2016 used with permission, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at

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JAPANESE BEETLE ART – Japanese beetles are currently turning most garden edibles into lace as they breed before dying off early August.

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TELL-TALE TRACKS – I finally found proof of the culprit digging up some of my garden flowers, a raccoon. (Photos by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins).

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