by Connie Oswald Stofko
I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints lately from gardeners who are having problems with chipmunks.
I talked with John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County, and my first question was whether we have more chipmunks in Western New York.
“We have been getting occasional calls on chipmunks for many years, so I don’t think their populations have increased significantly,” he said.
But they can be a problem for gardeners.
“If their populations build up in a particular area, gardeners may experience issues with them feeding on young plants, flowers, vegetables and bulbs,” he said.
There are several things gardeners can do if they are having a problem.
Don’t attract chipmunks
First, don’t attract chipmunks to your yard, Farfaglia said. Bird seed spilled from feeders can lure them in, so control the bird seed as much as possible.
Don’t fertilize with bone meal or fish emulsion, which also attract chipmunks, according to this factsheet from Cornell Cooperative Extension in Rockland County.
Landscape modification is the most effective long-term management method, according to the factsheet.
Don’t plant ground covers, trees and shrubs in a continuous fashion that connects wooded areas to foundation plantings.
You should also place rock walls, gardens and firewood piles away from the house because these features provide cover for chipmunks.
You can also build fences to keep chipmunks away from plants. See details in the factsheet under “Exclusion.”
Some people have had success with hot-pepper-based commercial repellents, Farfaglia said.
A number of other taste repellents are listed in the factsheet, too.
Live trapping and relocation is worth a try, Farfaglia said.
However, the only place you can relocate a chipmunk (or any other wild animal) to is another area of your own property.
The factsheet also includes information on killing chipmunks using rat traps to reduce the population.