Repel Exclude Deter

Repel, Exclude, Deter


I. Repel

Professional-level repellents for mice and rats are available. You can Do-It-Yourself or you can ask a rodent/exclusion company.
Rat-Out Gel Garlic-based.
DeTour Contains white pepper.
Sold in containers it is called RoadBlock.
PRO-PELL is made up of peppermint, rosemary, and citronella essential oils that contain the smells and tastes that rodents hate. It is sprayed on the foundation of a building and is not easily washed off.
The Nixalite website has many useful products and suggestions for animal control.

II. Exclude

  • Seal all buildings. Do it yourself or hire a rodent exclusion company. Copper Blocker Pet Stopper is copper mesh to block holes. 
  • Do not overfill trash cans or dumpsters and make sure the lids are tightly closed and no spillage on the ground.
  • Maintain a tightly closed barbecue and clean after every use.
  • Maintain garage doors closed with door sweeps. Seal all entry points.
  • Underground Barriers
  • From Food Quality and Safety magazine. Advice from the pros to the pros on keeping food manufacturing, storage, and dispensing facilities rodent-free – Exclusion: Most Powerful Weapon in Fight Against Rodents
  • SealUpProductsYou MUST seal holes which serve as rodent entryways!newrathouse

III. Deter

  • Encourage biodiversity. Animals that eat and frighten rats, mice, gophers and ground squirrels – coyotes, domestic dogs and cats, foxes, and bobcats all monitor and capture at rodent burrow entrances; skunks, rattlesnakes, and gopher snakes corner rodents in their burrows. Owls and hawks capture above ground.
  • Consider owl boxes and raptor poles/perches (one owl eats 1000 rodents a year!). Articles and links on owls and raptors for rodent control are on our main page here – Owls
  • Remove trash and secure garbage bins.
  • Pet food. Leave outside only enough for one feeding, this includes bird seeds.
  • Remove pet feces.
  • Pick up fallen fruit, use tree cuffs metal, plastic on large trees. 
  • Remove piles of debris, vegetation, and plants that feed and conceal rodents, such as ivy.
  • dumpsterbeforeafter1
  • This is what feeds and produces rodents – GARBAGE!
    Trash CANNOT overflow and LIDS MUST BE CLOSED and the area clean.
    Watch this video that shows what happens with open trash – rats overrunning neighborhood: Overflowing open dumpsters produce rats!


I. Repel

  • Break up burrow holes with a rod and pack them down solidly. They do not like their burrows to be disturbed and they will eventually move on.
  • Before sealing up the burrow holes add a few repellents
  • Use vanilla flavored coffee beans one cup in each hole, garlic cloves, cat, dog, and human hair can be placed in the burrow before closing it up
  • Predator urine! GOT CATS? Kitty litter with urine can be placed in the burrows.
    Those golden balls are great for protecting your garden!
  • Examples of Repellents: Critter Ridder uses a powerful pepper-based ingredient that impacts the animal’s senses of taste and smell, producing an effect that’s similar to biting into a red-hot jalapeño pepper.
    • Castor bean granules and oils work well. Gopher Max by Bonide is available at local stores.
    • Plants – Daffodils, narcissus, most irises, dahlias, society garlic root systems form a natural barrier.
      Sour clover (Melilotus indicus) is a nitrogen fixer and has 8 foot long roots that repel gophers and ground squirrels. It was used in orchards for rodent control before the advent of pesticides. See Gopher Stopper Clover information.
  • Motion detecting water sprays Spray Away Motion Activated Sprinkler and Solar Powered Motion Activated Animal Repellent Sprinkler

II. Exclude

  • You can reduce or prevent damage significantly by using 1/4 to 1/2 inch gauge stainless-steel mesh fencing to limit squirrels’ ability to invade your yard. Here are two companies that supply and install it:
    1) CATCH 
    Photos of mesh installation (805) 409-9090.
    2) Gophers Limited (831) 335-2400.
    Here is an example of what can be done in residential yards, and also for ballfields.
  • Install mesh fencing in front of openings, underneath porches, and around vegetation.
    To exclude from foundations or crawlspaces/porches, create an L- shaped barrier to at least 2 feet deep with the hardware cloth.
  • Surround a garden or field area with a trench barrier from 18 inches to 3 feet deep and 2 feet above the ground. Make an L-shaped bottom with the hardware cloth. 
  • Use hardware cloth to line your entire garden.
  • Construct a mesh cage around plants or the entire garden.
  • Here is a website for chew-proof netting – Chew Proof Netting

III. Deter

  • Allowing food sources and debris to accumulate is like inviting squirrels for a snack. Maintain the cleanliness of your yard to avoid attracting rodents.
  • Rake up fallen berries, nuts, acorns and fruit. 
  • Use tree cuffs metal, plastic on large trees. 
  • Pet food. Leave outside only enough for one feeding, this includes bird seeds. 
  • Remove trash and secure garbage bins.
  • Consider owl boxes (one owl eats 1000 rodents a year!), and raptor nesting platforms. See our website section on owls.
  • Consider snakes. Gopher snakes are harmless and love to eat gophers!
    You can buy them here:
  • Encourage biodiversity. Animals that eat and frighten rats, mice, gophers and ground squirrels – coyotes, domestic dogs and cats, foxes, and bobcats all monitor and capture at rodent burrow entrances; skunks, rattlesnakes, and gopher snakes corner rodents in their burrows. Owls and hawks capture above ground.

Wildlife – Los Angeles Animal Services Advice

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services has Animal Control Officers to aid residents in rectifying problems and some of the uneasiness that many people face with wildlife. This program allows for a Department representative to provide on-site evaluations, education on methods of exclusion, deterrents and discouragement of wildlife forays into our City neighborhoods.

Change in Thinking
The source of the problem is not the presence of wildlife, it is the environment that humans provide for them just by the simple manner in how we are the provider of food, water and cover for them. Many people are encouraging wild animals to live near their homes inadvertently or by design.
Unfortunately, urban sprawl is something that remains a constant. If we are going to push further and further into the habitat of wild animals we need to be responsible for our behavior. Change in wildlife behavior through negative interactions with humans by using deterrents is one way to alter the types of encounters we have with them. In many cases this will teach further generations to avoid habitats where deterrent measures have been implemented. The opposite is also true as well; if we do nothing and allow things to remain unchecked then the wildlife behavior remains the same.

There are no laws, policies or mandates requiring the Department to remove native wildlife. These animals are a common and important integral part of our ecosystem, biosphere and the circle of life.

Snails and Slugs

Our constant mantra is that no poison is safe. Read the info here.

Sluggo is a poison that also kills earthworms.

A man-made chemical called EDTA, a chelating agent that causes the iron phosphate to release its elemental iron easily in the digestive systems of not only slugs and snails but of pretty much anything that eats it, children and pets and earth worms. EDTA or the similar EDDS are the only reason these baits are effective, yet interestingly the label only reads Active Ingredient: Iron Phosphate – 1%, Inert Ingredients – 99%. No mention is made of the presence of another chemical that can turn harmless iron phosphate into a deadly poison. Apparently EDTA was slipped through the cracks in our regulatory system as an “inert” ingredient, and inert ingredients do not have to be listed on the label. Since iron phosphate is harmless, and EDTA is the ingredient that makes it effective, not to mention dangerous.

A review of these products by the Swiss organic certification organization (FiBL) discovered the EDTA content and stated that these products were likely no safer than the metaldehyde baits, that EDTA itself was significantly more poisonous than metaldehyde, and even said they weren’t even sure that it wasn’t the EDTA alone that was killing slugs and snails.

I have found that plant trapping works great. Give them what they want. Would you rather have ice cream for dinner or spinach? Farmers have used plant trapping to attract insects away from the desired crop. For example what I do is place cabbage heads around my garden to which the snails are attracted, and they leave my plants alone. Leave them alone and let them enjoy the cabbages. Soon enough a raccoon or skunk will appear and the population will be wiped out!

Putting Cats To Work

Ventura County Animal Services has healthy cats who would love to be put to work! These cats are unsuitable to be house pets but would flourish in a barn, horse stable, warehouse, garage, garden shed or other appropriate indoor/outdoor location. In return for your care, barn cats will help keep rodents away from feed, grain and food storage areas. Not only will you enjoy watching these cats work, you will be providing them a much-needed home. See their website Working Whiskers.

Here is a success story at Cal Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, making use of these cats: Cal Lutheran Cats.

Glue Traps

NEVER use glue traps. They are cruel and inhumane. References:
• Humane Society:
 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals:
• Wildcare:

NEVER Use Traps Outside Your Home

Beware! A pest control company will tell you a fear story as to why you should have poison bait boxes outside of your home. Rats DO NOT die inside the poison bait boxes, they freely go out and poison other wildlife and pets. Repelling, excluding, and deterring is the solution for your home, not poisoning the environment outside.

Cars/Automobiles. Hints for keeping them out.

  • Leave the hood up. Rodents are looking for a dark place to nest. This idea may help discourage nesting, but may not be practical in all situations.
  • Store your dog food, cat food, and birdseed. Place all food in strong containers.
  • Remove or seal off rat hiding places near the car. Cut down nearby shrubbery and vines where they can hide. Plant any of the mint varieties around the area. If you have a garage, block entrances to the building, spray them with substances or solutions that rats hate (see below).
  • Block small entrances to the engine. Some block engine openings with wire screen.
  • Use electronic deterrent devices. Rodents can hear ultrasound, e.g., Mouse Blocker. Strobe lights like the LED-based Rid-a-Rat may work for longer periods, as they disrupt the darkness that rats prefer.
  • Make your engine and its entrances smell bad, at least to rats. Motorists have had success with peppermint oil, Pine-Sol, Irish Spring soap, red pepper, Fresh Cab, and laundry dryer sheets. The people who make Rataway tell you to spray it on all the wires in the engine.
  • Xcluder. Rat Engine Sealer. Creates a permanent barrier against rodents and insects. Poly fiber and stainless steel mesh expands for a secure fit. Fills small holes and gaps around HVAC lines, eaves, and more.
  • Copper Blocker Pet Stopper. Copper mesh to block holes.
  • Do not let the car sit unused. Drive it once in a while.
  • Honda Motor Tape. It is infused with capsaicin, hot pepper, and is used to wrap the wire harness.
  • Guardfather –  Magnetic container with essential oils that repel rodents from engines.

Got Ants?

The Benefit of Ants    🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜

There are over 12,000 named species of ants and at least double that many that remain to be discovered. And while we may not like them inside our house, ants serve a number of useful functions. Ants are agriculturally important in various parts of the world. 

Here are three ways ants can help you:

1. Turning More Soil Than Earthworms

Similar to earthworms, ants do a great job in creating healthy soil. Their tireless tunnel digging aerates and turns over tremendous amounts of dirt, bringing nutrients closer to the surface, and making it possible for rainwater to more completely hydrate the soil. Ants mix different layers and add nutrients, etc. Now a researcher from Arizona State University, Dr. Ronald Dorn, has found that ants are enhancing the breakdown of certain minerals and the movement of carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate (limestone). See this link. The bottom line: ants might be helping to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

2. Sowing Seeds

One of the most easily observed and important roles that ants play is to sow seeds. Seed-harvesting ants aid significantly in the dispersal, survival and germination rate of seeds. Ants do this by transporting them to new habitats and storing them in nests that are high in nutrients. In doing so, the newly dispersed seeds can sprout in an environment conducive to growth, protected from both seed predators and drought. This is one reason why many plants, including flowering plants across the country, are able to thrive in the wild. This ant-plant relationship is so symbiotic that many plants wait to bloom or bear fruit until ants become highly active early in the year.

3. Unwanted Guest Controls 

Ants are excellent natural exterminators. Many ants will feed on the eggs and larvae of troublesome insects like flies, fleas, silverfish, bed bugs and disease-carrying cockroaches. They also attack their number one enemy—termites. A good way to keep bothersome insects from taking over your yard is to encourage the colonization of ants around the perimeter of your yard. Having a variety of ant species in your yard says that the overall environment of your yard’s ecosystem is in good shape. Ants and other insects provide a good balance.

Here is an article about how ants are just as effective as chemical pesticides for protecting orchards in The Daily Beastbased on research reported in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

So unless ants are entering your home, consider allowing them to preform their important ecological functions in your yard or garden.

I. Repel Ants

  • Use natural ant repellents.
  • Do not use ant bait, or poison sprays like Raid that continue in the toxic waste stream from their point of manufacture to their ultimate destination in landfills or via runoff or sewage into our waterways and oceans.
  • Planting mint around the foundation of the house
  • Vinegar. Clean surfaces in your home with a half-and-half solution of white distilled vinegar and water. As an added bonus, this is a great mixture to use for cleaning in general, replacing detergents which have polluting phosphorus. Vinegar works because ants hate its smell, and the vinegar removes the scent trails they use to get around.
  • Lemon Juice. Just like vinegar, lemon juice also seems to destroy those scent trails that ants follow. Try spraying lemon juice around the places you think ants are using for entryways.
  • Peppermint Oil. Clean off your surfaces really well, and then wipe them down with a clean damp cloth that has a few drops of essential peppermint oil on it. 
  • Spices and Herbs. Place in entryways – cinnamon powder or stick , peppermint leaves, cloves, paprika. Place bay leaves in entryways , cabinets, drawers and containers. Place cloves of garlic around indoor and outdoor ant pathways.
  • Coffee Grounds. Sprinkle your used coffee grounds in the garden and around the outside of your house. If you can locate exactly where the ants are getting in, be sure to put some there. You should see them move away from your home because they dislike the smell of coffee grounds.
  • Essential Oils. When a forager goes out and discovers food, it marks the path from the food to the nest using a pheromone trail. Other ants, who smell with their antennae, then follow the path. Certain botanical scents interfere with these scent trails  – here are a few of the most effective ones:
    a) Peppermint Essential Oil
    Not only does this one work, it smells great! To use: Place a few drops on a cotton ball and wipe on baseboards and other entry points. You can also leave a peppermint-infused cotton ball in cabinets and other areas as needed. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone, or see below for how to use it as a spray.b) Tea Tree Essential OilTea tree is a great all-purpose oil to have around. I use it as a disinfectant in homemade cleaners and a general antiseptic.c) Lemon Or Orange Essential OilCitrus oils contain d-limonene, which is toxic to ants. It also masks their scent trails. (Orange, lemon and grapefruit essential oils all contain d-limonene)To use: Place a few drops on a cotton ball and wipe on baseboards and other entry points. You can also leave a citrus-infused cotton ball in cabinets and other areas as needed. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone, or see below for how to use it as a spray.
  • Chalk and Baby Powder. Try drawing a line of chalk or sprinkle baby powder across the spot where the ants are entering your home. It works because talcum powder, an ingredient in both chalk and baby powder, is a natural ant repellent.
  • Cucumber and Citrus Peels. You can repel ants by leaving these peelings in areas of known ant activity. That’s because cucumber and citrus peels are toxic to the types of fungi that ants feed on, so they don’t want to go anywhere near them.
  • Ant Away Spray:1/4 cup purified water
    • 1/4 cup vodka (Used to help suspend the oil in the water. If you don’t have any available you can just use water and shake often)
    • 15 drops peppermint essential oil
    • 15 drops tea tree essential oil
    • 7 drops citrus essential oil (orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc) OR 1-3 drops clove essential oil
    • Pour all ingredients into a small spray bottle.
    • Shake bottle, then spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere you’ve seen ants. If you’re spraying on a food surface, omit the tea tree oil and add 15 drops peppermint oil. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone.
  • Vinegar Spray:Like essential oils, the smell of vinegar repels ants and also masks their scent trails. It is best used with another repellent, like citrus peels or essential oils.
    • How To Make Vinegar Spray:
    • Add 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup water to a spray bottle. Add 30 drops of one of the essential oils listed above, if desired (If you are using clove oil, I recommend using just a few drops as it is very strong).
    • Shake bottle, then spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere you’ve seen ants. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone.
  • Citrus Peel SprayAdd peels to a pot, then pour in enough water to cover them. Or if you prefer, add 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar. Heat water/vinegar until steaming, then turn stove off. Allow to steep overnight, then strain and pour the liquid in a spray bottle.
    • Shake bottle, then spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere.

  • Dr. Bronner’s Soap SprayLike diatomaceous earth, soap also dissolves the waxy coating on the outside of the ant.
    • Fill a 1 quart spray bottle almost all the way to the top. Add 1/4 c. peppermint castile soap, attach nozzle, and shake gently to mix.
    • Shake bottle, then spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere you’ve seen ants. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone.
  • Lemon Juice SprayWorks for the same reason as vinegar. It is best used with another repellent, like essential oils.
    • Add half lemon juice and half purified water to a spray bottle. Optional: Add 15 drops of essential oil for every 1/4 cup. If you are using clove oil, I recommend using just a few drops as it is very strong.
    • Spray around baseboards, entry points for ants and just about anywhere you’ve seen ants. Repeat every few days until ants are completely gone.

II. Exclude Ants

  • Locate the source of the ants. When you see ants in your home, try to follow them back to the point where they entered. 
  • Seal as many entry points as possible: weather-strip doors and use caulking to fill gaps in window and door frames and around baseboards, pipes, sinks, toilets, and electrical outlets

III. Deter Ants

  • The key to ant control is cleanliness: wipe up food spills immediately, wipe down food preparation surfaces with soapy water, remove garbage frequently, clean food debris out of sinks, rinse well any dirty dishes left in the sink, and sweep and mop floors regularly.
  • Store the food most attractive to ants (honey, sugar, etc.) in the fridge or in jars with rubber gaskets and lids that close with a metal clamp, or zip-lock bags. Unless the lid of a screw-top jar has a rubber seal, ants will follow the threads right into the jar. A few layers of waxed paper (not plastic wrap) between the jar and the lid, if screwed down tightly, will work well as a barrier. Transfer other foods, such as cookies, cereals, crackers, etc in paper boxes, to containers with tight-fitting lids or zip locks. Paper and cardboard boxes are not ant-proof.
  • Don’t leave uneaten pet food in bowls. Feed your pet only what it will eat immediately, and then wash the bowl frequently.  If you need to have food on hand available to your pets, put the bowl inside of a larger soup bowl and create a shallow water moat around the bowl.
  • Keep kitchen scraps in a tightly sealed plastic or metal container.Wash glass, tin, and aluminum food containers thoroughly before tossing them into an indoor recycling bin.
  • Move your mulch bucket away from the house.
  • Remove debris near the house, bricks, logs, etc., trim back vegetation.
  • Prune trees and shrubs away from exterior walls, to prevent ants using them as a bridge into the house.
  • daddylonglegs
  • Try to cultivate a good relationship with the Daddy-Long-Legs spiders. They are intelligent and make their webs along the ant entry points, usually near the front door and the bathroom window. Let the spiders do their job.

    Got Termites?

Beyond Pesticides is a nationwide organization that offers alternatives to pesticides. Please see the recommendations below. Here’s a great compendium of everything you could ever want to know about how to identify termites, the three types,and all the least toxic options:

We do not recommend tenting. Tenting is the most expensive and most toxic way to deal with termites. Sulfuryl Fluoride (Vikane), the commonly used poison, is labeled with the signal word “Danger” by the EPA, meaning that it is in the most acute toxic category of pesticides! All entranceways must be posted with a skull and crossbones sign.

Many materials that are exposed to this poison such as polyester cushion fibers, wool fabrics, and polystyrene insulation, can release it for up to 40 days post fumigation.  The long-term effects of using pesticides around children are questionable.

The EPA has a concern for neurotoxicity associated with inhalation of Sulfuryl Fluoride. The EPA has calculated that children are about five times more susceptible to it than adults – children are at significantly greater risk for neurotoxic effects after fumigation.

Please see this fact sheet from the Journal of Pesticide Reform

Here is an article from MIT about Sulfuryl Flouride as a Greenhouse gas which lasts in the environment for 35 years –

Here are three companies that have alternatives for termite control:
1) Hydrex –
2) Pacific Coat Termite –
3) ECOLA –

Got Snakes?

Snakes are an important part of our ecosystem.
They especially love to eat rodents and are an important control of the population.

For the homeowner you might want to relocate rattlesnakes and then put up snake fencing to block further access.

Some are poisonous and others are not.
The only venomous snake that we have in the Santa Monica Mountains is the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. 
Southern California is known to have an estimated 33 native snake species. 
Out of these 33 species, only seven are venomous, all varieties of rattlesnakes.

Here are two companies who wrangle and capture snakes, and put up fencing:

818-880-4269 (Home)
818-383-0476 (Cell)2)
(818) 489-4719
The difference between gopher snakes and rattlesnakes is given here:
Consider snakes for gopher control. Gopher snakes are harmless and love to eat gophers!
Dear Reader – Please email us and let us know what works, and did not work for you. Thank you for your valued input.