Christmas Lights and Deer Scents

Final Report for FNE97-163

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1997: $937.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1997
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $1,554.00
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Myra Bonhage-Hale
La Paix Herb Farm
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Project Information


Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE97-163

Ms. Bonhage-Hale is a gardener in the midst of a large population of deer. In her own words: "Three deer deterrents were proposed, to ascertain whether these organic, non-destructive methods would keep deer from eating tomato plants. They were a tansy hedge, rose-scented geranium bushes, and blinking Christmas lights around 10 foot by 12 foot plots of organic tomato plants (6 plants in each plot). Deer damage was first noted on each of these plots (including a control plot) eighteen days after installation. Undeterred by this failure, the grantee labored on with new ideas. A second trial was conducted with plastic flats laid around the tomatoes, pink netting saturated with essential oil of rose-scented geranium around a second plot, and mylar strips enclosing a low bamboo fence around the third plot. Deer damage ensued within eight days for the rose-scented geranium oil, nine days for the plastic flat trays, and seven days for the fluttering mylar strips. Again, spurred on by obsessive perseverance, a third trial was enacted. A tent of chickenwire, a web of filament line, and a chickenwire drape were observed for deer dalliance. Three plants in the tent of chickenwire were eaten in ten days, while three lived on for a month before being mysteriously devoured; the chickenwire drape worked for fourteen days, and the web lasted fifteen days. Another experiment, conducted separately, involving a cage canopy with bells, wind chimes, dangling ribbon and raffia was successful." Ms. Bonhage-Hale thinks that most of her deterrents worked for a limited period, but she believes that period grew shorter once the deer had learned that there were vegetables growing in the area. She suggests that the best way to deal with them would be to rotate among several deterrents, changing them every ten days or so, time and money permitting. She also believes that a system incorporating difficult-to-see barriers and sudden lights, sounds, and motion, particularly motion that mimicks the alarmed flick of a deer's tail, and triggered by the movement of the approaching animal, would be worth trying.


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.