Thursday, January 25, 2007

Controlling Armadillos

Anyone who has had an Armadillo in their yard knows just how much destruction can occur if left unchecked. Armadillos will tear up turf, nest under slabs and eat just about anything around your home. To understand how to best deal with your armadillo problem, you need to know a little about their biology. Armadillos belong to the same family of mammals as the sloth and anteaters. Their body is made of a leathery material generally referred to as "armor". The species most present in North America is the Nine-banded armadillo and can be found throughout the entire southwest and southeast. In fact, this species of armadillo is migrating ever further from Texas - the original state it was first found. In some states, they have established themselves after being released intentionally. Armadillos love to nest in rock piles, around trees or shrubs and under slabs. Their burrows are usually 15 to 25 feet long and cause extreme damage to tree roots. In many cases, this damage leads to the tree dying. These same burrows can lead to flooding when dug around crawl spaces and can undermine patio slabs or walkways. This weakening ultimately leads to the concrete falling apart and breaking. Armadillos are strong diggers and rely on this strength for food and shelter. They are attracted to tasty fruit which may be found in a garden or compost pile. Once they start coming around, expect them to return every night as they are mostly nocturnal. They like to establish "runs" where they will travel every night expecting to find food. These same "runs" can be used against them and will be discussed later in the article. Armadillos also love turf worms and grubs. Lawns which are left untended will often develop beetle grub populations which will certainly attract armadillos from far and wide. Earthworms are another food source they like and either grubs or worms can be found by digging up sod, raking away leaves, moving carefully laid wood chips or bark, or simply digging frantically until such food is found. Either way, the mess they leave is aggravating, damaging and never ending once it begins.Armadillos mate in the fall and have their young around February or March. Almost every litter will have identical quadruplets. These miniature adults are ready to walk, swim and behave much like their parents. By the end of the summer, they, too, will be wreaking havoc in the neighborhood! Armadillo control can be accomplished by either a passive, or aggressive, method. Using both tactics will ultimately provide the best results. Passive techniques use repellents and sprays to deal with the armadillos vast food sources. This approach will provide results. Aggressive techniques involve trapping and provide instant control. However, if some of the passive techniques are not employed, other armadillos will move into the vacant territory once the current armadillo is removed. In most cases, both passive and aggressive armadillo control will yield the best results.

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