Deer Repellants and Butterflies

ncrescueSeptember 27, 2013

Can anyone tell me if deer repellants are harmful to butterflies? After years of mostly native shade gardening, I am branching out to sunny areas. Alas, the deer like most of those plants, too.

In a recent pollinator workshop, no one could tell us if the so called organic products in these deer sprays are bad for butterflies or other pollinators.

Any ideas out there? ( I am usually on the native plant forum; this is my first time here. It appears to be a very active forum. Great!)

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I don't think they are harmful, if organic solutions are used.
Hot pepper may work.
Another option is to avoid the most deer vulnerable plants altogether while growing other more deer resistant plants such as Milkweed.
Growing wood nettle (stinging) as opposed to False Nettle will deter nibblers of all kinds as well.
I deal more c rabbits. What they leave alone (Not much!!) includes Anaphalis, Clethra, Joe-Pye Weed, Swamp Milkweed,
Goldenrod, and Antennaria.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 2:01PM
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Deer ate the Joe Pye, goldenrods, sunflowers. At least that was in the early summer. Then i sprayed, but I noticed the insects avoiding the plants after that. Don't want to have conflicting situations.

Thanks for your comments.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 3:48PM
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Ouch!! I can only vouch for the bunnies, thankfully no deer in my backyard. Just bunnies and lots of those Japanese Beetles.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 4:26PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

I have no experience with this but have heard from severals that it works for 'them'. They take 2 raw eggs and crack them in their 1 gal sprayers. Shake well and spray plants. I guess it works for a couple weeks or the next rainfall. YMMV.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 12:52PM
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We have found that Liquid Fence works the best. The main constituent of it is rotten eggs. My guess would be that for nectar plants the spray would not make too much difference. The butterflies are going inside the flowers anyway. In terms of caterpillar food plants, I have no idea. The deer are the bane of my existence as well. Frankly, how much worse off could the butterflies be if you spray? If your neighborhood is anything like mine, without spraying there will be zero for the cats to eat.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 3:16PM
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Someone at the workshop said that pepper, in some of the sprays, is not good for bees. I am worred about all pollinators .After I sprayed early in the season, all insects avoided the plants for several weeks. Now I just spray the foliage

I have used Liquid Fence but prefer I Must Garden. It appears to last longer, through more rainy periods. It also smells not quite so bad...has cinnamon, mint, and lemon grass oils as well as the eggs and garlic, of course.

Don't want to hurt the wildflie. Here we only kill copperheads when they get close to the house. Unfortunately, this year our dog was "fanged" on the nose and has had extensive vet treatments and medicine.

The cost of living in the woods. Thanks for all input.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 5:36PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I have some deer, though my garden is up near a somewhat busy rode. They definitely munch on any aster. But, I've grown tons of zinnias for the pollinators and they haven't been touched. Also Agastache, penstemon, columbine, rudbeckia, milkweed (tuberosa, syriaca, incarnata, curassavica), snapdragons, salvias (annual and perennial), sedums, lavender, tithonia, chives, oregano, etc. I hope some of these would help enhance you enjoyment of your garden without sprays.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 6:40PM
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I am mainly into natives, so I haven't tried a few of the plants you mentioned except for A. curassavica. That is a WOW plant. I am collecting seeds to try and keep it going since it is somewhat tender.

I planted one type of Agastache in a different location, and the deer got it, too, but based on your advice, I will try more. Thanks for your ideas!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 8:03AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I just purchased two White Snakeroot plants in August. They are native here in Michigan and grow in shade. Mine were swarming with pollinators as soon as I put them in the ground. They do have a reputation for rampant reseeding, but that isn't a problem for me. The plant has just gone to seed and I grabbed a handful to wintersow. Would you like me to get some for you? Anyone else who would like some is also welcome. Reply here or send me an email.


    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Thanks. I have that one up in the mountains but have only brought down two for the Piedmont region. Also, I like diversity, so yes, please send. (Will send address directly.)

I am going to the mountain in a week, with the hopes of collecting seed. Hopefully, the critters will have left me some. Usually, there is Chelone, Joe Pye,and one DYC that are ready. The milkweeds, alas, will be long gone by then.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 8:30AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Do you need milkweed seeds? What variety do you need. I plan to go out today to harvest common milkweed, and I'm waiting for tuberosa pods to ripen. I already have some incarnata seeds fresh this year and some left over from last year. If you'd like any of those, let me know. I also put out an offer of Liatris ligualistylis and got lots of responses, but haven't received any postage from anyone. So, if I send out a package to you, I'll include some of those as well. I'll send you my address.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 9:03AM
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