Bug of the Month:skunks

Barry Zucker

Okay, okay skunks aren’t bugs, but they do bug a lot of people, and some folk mistakenly use pesticides—in the form of mothballs—to deter them. Skunks are not al bad, however. Let’s accentuate the positive: skunks hunt rodents and also live on insects. They like grasshoppers, grubs and potato beetles. New York State even passed a law protecting skunks because these furry critters were helping the hop growers by eating hop grubs.

Believe it or not, skunk spray was once thought to be good for asthma. Nocturnal and nomadic, skunks rarely stay in one place, except when they’re raising their young. A three-foot-high wire mesh fence, buried six inches in the ground, usually will keep skunks off your property. To avoid attracting skunks, never leave out pet food and keep garbage in sturdy closed containers.

If skunks have taken residence under your house, after they leave at night to forage, seal the opening. Avoid doing this from May to August—there may be babies in there. If so, try using bright lights and loud music to make it uncomfortable for them. Once gone, seal the opening.

Never try trapping skunks. Mothballs do not deter skunks, and are highly toxic to pets, people and especially small children. If your dog gets "skunked," give your pet a tomato juice bath, which may mask the smell. (See Tiny Game Hunting for more ideas).

For virtually every pest problem—indoors or outdoors—there is a safe, effective and nontoxic solution. For more information, visit www.beyondpesticidesohio.org.

Barry Zucker

Barry Zucker is executive director of Beyond Pesticides Ohio.

Read More on Bug of the Month
Volume 4, Issue 10, Posted 12:26 PM, 09.14.2011