In the course of intense urbanization reaching territories that used to scarcely have any traces of human activity, people face the challenge of co-existing with the wildlife without doing harm to it and ensuring their own safety. Often, it is not carnivores that pose a threat, but such harmless animals, as deer. These Bambies can unwillingly cause road accidents or intentionally enter your lot in search of food. We will acquaint you with effective commercial and handmade deer repellents recommended by the scientists, describe these animals’ habits and will finally pick the six best repellents available in online stores.
Table of Contents:
- How To Repel Deer According to the Scientists
- Deer Repellents Active Ingredients Comparative Chart
- TOP-6 Best Deer Repellents & Deterrents
White-tailed deer are widespread in North America, and they adapt easily to various habitats. Restricting hunting, reducing the number of wild predators and increasing the amount of abandoned farmland only make it easier for them. Regular deer invasion can be controlled with various methods and especially designed repellents.
Habitat Modification. You can try altering deer habitat and make it less attractive for them. For instance, remove the shrubs to make them feel less safe. However, the experts from the Alabama A&M University and Auburn University consider this method impractical due to the deer’s advanced ability to adapt to the environment modified by humans.
Scaring. You can install a sensor device that will spray it with water or turn on the light once it detects deer motion. Another device, an acoustic gadget, will scare deer for the time being until you face the problem: these noises will equally affect other animals inhabiting the lots. Does that work for you? Moreover, scaring is temporary, as deer get used to such inconveniences quickly.
Fencing. If you are looking for a long-term effect, create an artificial barrier or use an electric railing to fence off deer. This option is more preferable for large territories.
Choice of Vegetation. Deer feed on leaves, grass, buds and berries and they have certain preferences. Keep them in mind when deciding which plants should be treated with a repellent.
Selective deer shooting is a short-term control method. Moreover, it cannot be used in many rural areas with hunting restrictions.
Which Deer Repellents Are Recommended By the Scientists
Most house owners facing the task of deer control on their territory prefer deer repellents that are sold or handmade. Scientific research confirms the effectiveness of the customers’ choice.
David Drake, Extension Wildlife Specialist, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, and Robert Gibbs, Natural Resource Manager, Maryland–National Park have made the following conclusion after conducting three years of lab experiments with various repellents. They claim that commercial deer repellents had a significant effect on reducing deer browse on ornamental plants. According to their study, even at sites with the highest deer pressure, repellents in many cases held damage in check for six to eight weeks. At sites with less deer pressure, 10 to 12 weeks of effectiveness was common. On sites with high deer pressure, repellents will most likely be effective but may require more frequent re-application (as often as every 6 to 8 weeks).
In general, repellents act on taste and attractiveness of a plant to a deer. There are two types of such treatments: direct repellents and indirect repellents. Direct ones repel through an unpleasant taste and often contain bitter components that should be applied on your garden plants’ leaves. The disadvantage of this method is that a deer needs to bite the plant to feel its bitterness. Indirect repellents, on the other hand, act through smell, appearance or the sound that they make. For instance, many repellents contain dry rotten egg dust, the smell and nasty taste of which help achieve desired effect. Animal dried blood sends a false signal of a predator’s presence. As the University of Nebraska – Lincoln lab tests show, scaring ingredients proved to be most effective. Such repellents contain predator urine, meat protein or garlic.
Indirect repellents can protect a large territory if you spray it. They can contain particles of human hair, soap or slaughterhouse waste. Make sure you never spray these substances over the plants you will later consume. Several ingredients, such as capsaicin (active component of chili pepper), castor oil, garlic oil, salts/fatty acids of ammonia are an exception. To achieve best results, combine direct and indirect repellents and replace them after each use so that the deer do not get used to them.
Take into consideration the following factors when picking a deer repellent:
- Repelling action (through taste or smell)
- Effect duration
- Deterrent or repellent type: spray, concentrate, sprinkler or granules
As we’ve mentioned, in general, deer repellents act either through taste or through smell. The majority of treatments are sold as ready-to-use or concentrated sprays. The latter should be dissolved in the amount of water required to reach needed concentration in order not to damage plants. For instance, Plantskydd is sold as a dust while Deer Scram and Shake-Away contain granules that are to be placed along the lot perimeter to create a kind of a deer barrier. When considering the price of a product, remember that cheapness and value for money are not the same things. Ready to use repellents are, as a rule, cheaper, but they cover a smaller area, that is why concentrates that will cover a large territory for a longer time, are more economical.
|Capsaicin Castor Oil||Taste|| |
For up to a month, depending on the precipitation
|Garlic Oil||Smell|| |
Repeat application after a downpour
|Salts/Fatty Acids Of Ammonia||Smell|| |
For up to a month, depending on the precipitation
|Predator Urines||Smell||For about a month|
|Fish And/ Or Beef By-Products||Smell and taste|| |
A month in winter and two weeks during the vegetation period
|Thiram Fungicide-Based Products||Smell and taste||One-three months|
|Blood-Based Products||Smell and taste||One-three months|
|Putrescent Egg-Based Products||Smell||One-three months|
|Denatonium Benzoate Or Bitrex||Taste||One-three months|
Homemade Deer Repellent With Garlic, Eggs, Pepper and Soapy Water: Tips and Recipes
If you check out the commercial repellents’ components, you will see that many of them contain such active ingredients as garlic and egg solids, which are usually always handy in any household. That is why if you would like to save some money, homemade repellents might be attractive. Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor of the University of Vermont, notes that commercial repellents often contain pesticides or other hazardous chemicals while homemade treatments made of natural components that he used showed a decent result.
However, you can face certain difficulties. Dr. Leonard Perry was critical of a repellent containing “five tablespoons of cayenne pepper and one tablespoon of olive oil, to one gallon of water”. He warns that pepper particles can clog the nozzle and repel useful insects. That is why this professor has invented a life hack: re-use soapy water as a repellent. Fatty acids that the soap contains will repel deer and your costs will amount to zero. Just like any other method, this one has a drawback: an ugly white membrane will remain on the plants’ leaves.
Here are a few recipes of homemade natural deer repellents:
Recipe #1. Hot sauce + eggs + garlic
Ingredients: 3 tablespoons of hot sauce, 3 raw eggs, 3 tablespoons of shredded garlic.
Recipe: blend the ingredients and add some water to dilute the mixture. Mix it with a gallon of water and spray your garden plants.
Recipe #2. Pepper + vinegar + ammonia + garlic
Ingredients: 4 tablespoons of a ground cayenne pepper, 1 cup of white vinegar, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of clear ammonia, 3 clean garlic heads, 1 cups of oil soap.
Recipe: Mix cayenne pepper with white vinegar and boil. Keep for one minute, and then filter the mixture with a coffee filter. Mix garlic with water and filter it again. Add ammonia and oil soap to both mixtures and then add 2.5 gallons of water. Follow by treating your garden.
Recipe #3. Egg + milk + soap
Ingredients: 1 egg, 1/2 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of dish soap, 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.
Recipe: Mix all the ingredients, add a gallon of water and spray the plants.
Deer Repellent Plants
It will be a wise decision to plant something deer clearly dislike, such as plants with coarse, ferny leaves, or with a strong smell and stiff thorns. In addition, the list of the food deer detest, in particular, includes Byzantine purifier, hellebore, catnip, lavender and wormwood. Although deer adore tulips, they avoid other bulbous plants, such as narcissus. Perhaps you should favor equally beautiful, but so unloved by deer narcissus? University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, Andrew Holsinger, believes that the damage can be significantly reduced if you sow proper plants and vice versa. “If homeowners have a selection of plant species that are favored by deer, they can expect frequent dinner guests in their garden… Often, some ornamental plants used in landscaping are preferred because they are fertilized and irrigated, making them nutrient-rich and moist,” notes Andrew Holsinger.
Avoid evergreen shrubs, like cedar, and yew tree, geranium, tulips, roses, azalea, clover, holly and elder. Protect those fruits and vegetables that deer love: nuts, apples, strawberries, cherries, persimmons, potatoes, lettuce, beans, broccoli and wheat.
Deer Repellent For Cars
In the USA, over 1.5 million of road accidents are annually caused by collisions of cars with deer on highways. This results in about $1.1 billion of damage to the vehicle and about 150 lethal cases per annum. These figures are impressive enough to address this issue seriously.
White flags. As the researchers have discovered, the white-tailed deer perceive white flags as a signal of danger. This is due to their habit of raising their tails when they see a predator and thus exposing their white behind. In this way these animals warn their kinsmen of the hiding danger. The drawback of this method is that the fabric fades with time and the deer get used to this signal.
You can also attach a special device, such as a deer warning whistle that has been sold in the USA for over 20 years. Such a device makes an ultrasound noise at the frequency of 16-20 kHz when the vehicle’s speed exceeds 30 mph. It costs only $7.95.
Deer Out 32oz Concentrate Deer Repellent
Deer Out will do the job without making you feel uncomfortable. The mint smell, loved by many people, will repel deer. Moreover, it contains natural ingredients only: peppermint oil, garlic oil, white pepper, putrescent white egg solids. Do not hesitate to apply it on any plant in your garden, including the ones you are going to eat.
This ~$38.95 concentrate is to be dissolved in water, and the resulting 2.5 gallons will be enough to treat a territory of up to 10 000 square feet. Deer Out acts all year around and does not get washed off by rain. Nevertheless, repeat treatment will be required after a while.
The manufacturer promises three months of residual effect, but the Amazon.com users are not unanimous in this regard. Depending on the environment, the concentrate can act for about one month. After you use Deer Out, deer may return to your place, but an unpleasant mint smell will drive off any desire to taste your plants. This product is good value for money and is recommended by the National Home & Gardening Club.
Price: ~$38.95 Check the current price
Enviro Pro 1006 Deer Scram Repellent Granular with Dried Blood
Just like the previous deterrent, it does not have an unpleasant odor for humans and is made of natural ingredients. It is made of dried blood 39.3%, garlic 2.8%, and white pepper 2.8%, cloves 9%, and meat meal 54.2% and is available in the form of granules. It will be enough to cover up to 5,400 square feet for the same price of ~$31.90. At the same time, Deer Scram has a competitive edge over a spray: it does not require frequent repeat application.
An Amazon.com user commented: “I have a fairly large flower garden and sprinkled it over the flowers as they were coming up. But I also used Sweeney's Deer Repellent and between the two products, I had no problems last year. It lasts quite a while unless it rains. Then you would want to add more. The other product lasts all summer long. I would not rely on just one product.”
Natural granules are supplied in a large 25 kg bucket and do not contain synthetic additions. The repellent evokes fear in deer by emitting a smell resembling the smell of dead deer. It is preferable to locate the granules near a wooden storage, a stone mound, along the perimeter of the house basement, a hangar, in the garden, flowerbeds and next to the pond. Although the label says this product is safe for pets, the users recommend keeping it away from dogs so as to avoid digestion problems.
Price: ~$31.90 Check the current price
Liquid Fence HG-80109 Ready-to-Use, Deer Spray
Its effect is visible even before an animal tries the food and thus it preserves your crops. It is sold as a ready-to-use ~$24.99 spray. Rains do not wash it off; it protects your flowers, trees, garden, vines and shrubs. It is safe for consumable fruit and plants, but, according to the users, it can discolor the leaves if applied directly on the plants. An Alaskan Amazon.com user recommends spraying not the actual flower beds, but the stone walls underneath them to prolong the effect.
As for the drawbacks, its coverage area is smaller than that of the previous items and reaches only 2000 square feet. Also, you will have to refrain from buying it if you want to use it in New Mexico or Indiana as the sale of this repellent is restricted in these states.
Apply Liquid Fence on the plants and along their perimeter in dry weather. First repeat after a week and then do so on a monthly basis. The deterrent is made of eco-friendly ingredients, the active components are putrescent whole egg solids and garlic.
Price: ~$24.99 Check the current price
Havahart 32 oz. Deer Away, Repellent, Ready-to-Use Deer Spray DA32RTU-2
So far, Amazon.com users rated this new product poorly. Its active ingredients are white pepper and garlic and they have a dual repelling action on deer: through taste and smell. Fruits can be treated with this repellent. The users complain of spray nozzle breakage and overall poor performance on the manufacturer’s web page. According to a buyer, after second use, a deer came and fed on a garden shrub. On the other hand, this spray’s price (~$11.99) is a few times lower than that of the previous products, so why not give it a shot?
Price: ~$11.99 Check the current price
Shake-Away All Natural Deer & Large Animal Repellent (Coyote Urine)
Shake-Away is available for ~$15.95. The granules’ active ingredient, coyote urine, creates an illusion of a predator’s presence in the animals’ eyes and thus destroys any desire to enter its territory. However, this substance has substantial disadvantages.
One of the Amazon.com users has rightly observed that the product description on the website does not match the information on its label. Shake-Away contains pesticides that pose risk to humans and pets if misused. For instance, it is crucial to avoid contact of this chemical with your lips, skin and eyes. Remember to wash your hands. Moreover, never use this repellent on edible plants or vegetables as you can only spray your lot along their perimeter. However, the repellent does not pollute water which is a great advantage.
Spray the lot twice every seven days within the first two weeks, and repeat treatment twice a month for maintaining the effect. As a result, the deterrent will not be so cheap. The manufacturer promises that Shake-Away will cover about 1,500 square feet.
Price: ~$15.95 Check the current price
Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler - Deer Deterrent
Water can also repel deer. Orbit Sprinkler has a great working deterrent option that proves its effectiveness, both in the daytime and at night. The built-in motion sensor and automated 120º rotation will be activated only when the animals approach your garden.
The manufacturer has implemented smart technologies to reduce water waste and save battery life. You can use four AA batteries that will provide 7,500 sprinkles! The perks are not limited to these as Yard Enforcer can also be used as a regular spray for irrigating lawns.
Certain Amazon.com users complain of the device’s malfunction as it allegedly begins to leak. It turns out; the reason for this was improper use. Here is a good piece of advice. “Everything just screws together. Mine has worked fine, even with a slave sprinkler positioned at some distance. If I had my way the entire thing would be metal. One has to be careful in setting the spray area of the sprinkler, turning the wire clips that limit the area should be done by turning them clockwise only. Otherwise you're just loosening the screwe on sprinkler and it can come loose.” Half of the users awarded this repellent a rating of 5 stars out of 5. Read over 1000 customer reviews on Amazon.com to know more.
Price: ~$60.40 Check the current price
Best Deer Repellents and Deterrents Comparison Chart
|Product||Type||Active Ingredients||Best Use||Price|
Deer Out 32oz
|Concentrated Insecticide||Peppermint oil, Garlic oil, White Pepper, Putrescent white egg solids||Dissolve in water and spray directly on the plants to be protected.|
Enviro Pro 1006
|Granules||Dried Blood, Garlic, White Pepper, Cloves, Meat Meal||Pour on the lot where animals can appear. Repeat application if necessary.|
Liquid Fence HG-80109
|Spray||Putrescent Whole Egg Solids and Garlic.||Spray along the perimeter of the lot directly on the plants to be protected.|
Havahart Deer Away
|Spray||White Pepper and Garlic||Spray along the perimeter of the lot directly on the plants to be protected.|
Shake Away Repellent
|Granules||Coyote Urine||Pour along the lot perimeter twice a week for the first fortnight, then repeat twice a month to maintain the effect.|
|Motion Activated Sprinkler||–||Connect to a garden hose and set the needed mode (day/night/always).|
Repellent Use Tips
First and foremost, you should read the label on the manufacturer’s manual carefully, especially if the product contains pesticides or chemicals. In general, these repellents are most effective in winter provided that you begin in early November. During the other seasons, apply the products on the plants when it is not windy and at least a few hours before it starts to rain. Remember that even the most ingenious plan can fail if there is no alternative food source nearby and there are too many animals. For instance, if only several households in the neighborhood use repellents, they will be effective, but if the entire community joins, the result will go downhill.