DEAR JOAN: I have tried every suggestion on Google; nothing is stopping these guys. My lawn has so many holes, it looks like it’s been rototilled. Now they are digging my flowers and plants. My neighbor caught them on camera.
I now have two traps that I’ll set them out in the evening. They have come in three times through the cat door, which is locked now. My cat is not happy with no out for her. Any suggestions?
Tommie Hogan, Livermore
DEAR TOMMIE: Raccoons harbor an intense, unrealized desire to be landscape designers. Their hearts are in it, but they just don’t have any style.
Aside from aesthetics, raccoons are tearing up lawns in search of food, namely grubs. Right now, the grubs are feeding close to the surface and will continue to do so until winter. The arrival of colder temperatures will drive them deeper underground to sleep away the winter.
Once the grubs are tucked in for their long nap, raccoon activity will likely decrease or stop until spring, when the grubs, now adult beetles, emerge and start the process all over again.
We still have several weeks to go, however, so you might want to get to the heart of the matter by realizing you don’t have a raccoon problem, you’ve got a grub problem. You can eliminate or greatly reduce the number of grubs in your lawn by practicing good gardening measures.
Too much water on your lawn can encourage grubs, but too little water can do the same thing, as insects sense a plant in distress and take advantage of it.
There’s still time to apply beneficial nematodes to your lawn. These near microscopic creatures seek out grubs and do nasty things to them, killing them fairly quickly. Once the raccoons realize there are no grubs to eat, they’ll move on to a lawn that has them.
Nematodes are available at most home improvement stores, garden centers and nurseries, as well as online. Make your first application now, then repeat in two weeks. The nematodes are safe to use around pets and children.
There also are a number of lawn service companies that use chemicals to destroy your grubs. Depending on what type they use, they might not be as safe for your pets and children.
Focusing on the raccoons, motion-activated lights and sprinklers can temporarily discourage them. With luck, they’ll move on, but raccoons are smart, and most of them quickly realize that a light popping on or a sprinkler going off is worth the risk to get food.
Some people have had success leaving a radio, set to an all-talk station, playing softly on the porch to fool raccoons into thinking humans are around, which usually makes them less likely to visit.
Your best bet is to use a combination of deterrents, and to switch them around so the raccoons don’t sense the pattern.
I’m curious about what you’re planning to do with any raccoons you trap. State law says you must either kill the trapped animals, using prescribed “humane” methods, or you have to release it where you caught it. That means you can’t take it down the street or out in the countryside to let it go.
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