(ARA) -Warm weather means sunshine, blooms, birdsong - and the dreaded "deer drama" that will inevitably wreak havoc in your beautiful backyard this season. Deer are now a permanent part of our landscapes, brazenly entering our yards and eating our gorgeous gardens. They are majestic animals, and beautiful to look at - from a distance. Up close, trampling and tasting your tulips, they're just not a welcome sight. Warm months are when deer damage is most noticeable, particularly as plants awaken from months of dormancy and prepare to bloom. Deer are the poster critters of natural adaptability. As suburbia has encroached on their wild habitat, deer have adjusted easily, finding plenty to eat in residential landscapes. "In the early part of the 20th century, the deer population in the U.S. was less than half a million animals," says Greg Ecsedy, owner of Bobbex Inc., which manufactures deer repellent. "Today, estimates place the deer population at between 15 million and 20 million animals that cause about $1 billion a year in damage to farms, gardens, yards and timber." "We know that deer will eat more than 500 different types of plants, so there's a good chance that something you've planted will appeal to them, and you can bet they'll eat it," Ecsedy says. Since deer need to consume a high volume of calories to survive - bucks weighing 125 to 250 pounds need 4,000 to 6,000 calories per day - their foraging can cause significant damage to suburban landscapes. Deer seldom travel alone, so a small herd can devastate a neighborhood quickly. Deer's close proximity to people over the course of time has dulled their natural fear, so it's quite common to see multiple deer nonchalantly noshing away - right outside your window. Deer's adaptability stems from their capacity to learn. Homeowners can defend their landscape by putting deer's natural learning ability to good use. Deterrents that convince the deer your yard is no longer a desirable dining destination can successfully protect your home environment from these foraging foes. Several methods can be effective in deterring deer, including the use of repellents like all-natural Bobbex Deer Repellent. Common solutions include: * Deer Repellent - Deer rely heavily on their sense of smell to assess the desirability of an area for feeding, and to alert them to danger. Disrupting their sense of smell can disrupt their sense of security, which is why scent-based repellents often prove effective. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station gave Bobbex a 93 percent protection index - second only to a fence, at 100 percent, for effectiveness. The repellent uses ingredients that blend the scents of putrescent eggs, garlic, fish, clove oil and other proteins, so it smells and tastes awful to deer. It's environmentally friendly and safe for animals and your family. Apply it in almost any weather, it dries clear, won't wash off after heavy rain or burn plants and grass. Bobbex Deer Repellent is available online at www.homedepot.com and in garden retail stores. To learn more, visit www.bobbex.com. * Deer Deterrent Devices - Motion-activated noise makers and lights can scare deer off for a short time. Deer's movement in the yard can activate motion lights at night, scaring them away, during the day you can use motion-activated sound. It's likely, however, that deer will become acclimated to both tactics over time, and the sound and motion might not have an effect on them. * Deer Fence - Fencing is considered the only surefire way to keep deer out of a garden, but keep in mind that deer have been known to jump 10-foot fences, and many communities restrict the height of fencing. You may not be able to put up a fence high enough to keep deer away - plus, fencing might not be practical and can be costly. * Deer Resistant Flowers - Another option is to grow plants that deer don't like. A hungry deer will eat just about anything, but you may have some success by planting deer-resistant flowers and plants like catmint, hellebore, yarrow, fuzzy lamb's ear, and cleome near the plants you want to protect. "Gardening on a rural acreage with a large deer population proved challenging in all seasons until we discovered Bobbex Deer Repellent," says garden writer Jan Patrick. "We like that the same product we used to protect our shrubs and dwarf conifers in winter also effectively protects the summer garden. The fertilizer value of Bobbex is an extra plus."
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