I ain't believing this...

polymerous(9b)June 7, 2012

I have a lot of potted daylilies, many of them (bought last year or this year) in 1-1.5 gallon pots.

Last year, we had a lot of trouble with racoons raiding our yard. They dug up a new lawn that we had installed in our side yard and pretty much totally trashed it. We hired an exterminator, who told us that the raccoon population was at a cyclic peak and people were having problems all over the area. We spent a couple of months trapping, and got at least 9 raccoons (plus a couple of skunks).

Things seemed to have calmed down. Or so I told myself. (There were occasionally signs of something stomping through my raised beds in that side yard, but I thought maybe it was a possum. (No plants were dug, no dirt was dug, no damage was done.))

Yesterday, I went out to the "Back 40" and discovered that something had dug up and scattered the mulch we had laid under and around a newly placed bench. (There was weed barrier fabric under the mulch, and that was all torn up too.) Raccoons?


I went out to the side yard (the only deer protected area on our property) to deadhead and hybridize the daylilies there. I was stunned to see that TWO of these potted daylilies had been dragged off to the strip of lawn (adjacent to a property line hedge) where we were trapping the raccoons last winter. One pot had been completely dug out and the plant ('Victorian Lace') carried off (and possibly eaten??). The second pot was partly dug out and then left abandoned (the daylily still intact) - as though something (the sprinklers coming on?) had scared the perp off.

I ain't believing this. Since when do raccoons like daylilies? (I can't think of any other critter this could be - and no, this is not kid or teen pranks.) Has something like this happened to anyone else? And does anyone have any recommendations (apart from calling the exterminator again, who I expect out today anyway to check on the gopher traps)?

The deer are bad enough. The gophers are bad enough. The rabbits are bad enough. The raccoons tearing up our lawn was bad enough.

But THIS-! This is intolerable.

I don't want to lose any more potted daylilies. (And no, planting them out is not (at this time) an option.)


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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Buy your own Have A Hart Live Traps. You will only have the one time expense. Bait with canned cat food. Either permantly do in said racoons or drive them very far away and not to anyones elses properties. Maybe a state park?

Honestly I have lots and lots of racoons here and never have I had problems like you are describing. Sure it is not something bigger?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 5:16PM
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beachlily z9a

I've had similar problems with racoons here in FL. I've had them pull out plants I had planted in the box the previous day. I thought the fertilizer might have attracted them, but apparently the disturbed ground did it. They have walked through the plants, breaking plants and scapes and they have laid down in the boxes, totally crushing daylilies.

Last year we had 3 traps out for 7 days (at a cost of $500) and we caught 14 racoons, 4 possums and 1 scared kitty. We let the kitty loose and the rest of the animals were relocated. We're on an island so the racoons can't get off the island and there are no known predators.

I really feel for you ... there's no good answer.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 5:21PM
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I can't think of anything else that would go after the daylilies, which is why I am asking. I can't believe that the raccoons would do it - but I think (?) they are omnivores, so who knows.

(And no, I am certain it is not people - if someone came into the garden to trash it, or to steal plants, there would have been far, far more damage done beyond just those two potted plants.)

I don't want to have to deal with raccoons or other critters myself (fear of rabies, and those raccoons can get vicious when trapped - even one of the exterminators is afraid of them!). Anyway, it is illegal to transport pest animals, and (I think) the only sanctioned way to dispose of corpses for large things like raccoons is via an incinerator. (Rats, on the other hand, I bag and throw into the garbage.)

Our exterminator has whatever mandated license/permission to trap the animals (using the live traps), euthanize them, and take them to the approved disposal facility. Better them than me!

So no, this is not about the cost of the exterminator, but about figuring out what is doing this, and making sure they don't get any more of my daylilies.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Wow, beachlily, 14 coons in 7 days??! It took us over a month to get our 9.

In previous years they had dug up our raised beds (18" beds totally enclosed by hardwood) and tossed plants (basil, parsley, pepper plants) around. But in that situation it was clear that they weren't interested in the plants but were rather looking for grubs and worms - which was the same reason they tore up our new lawn.

This is the first time, EVER, that they (or whatever it is) have gone after potted plants. And to have that blooming size double fan daylily totally disappear?! It was a shock!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 5:34PM
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Oh dear, oh dear. I think I will never whine about leaf streak again. I'm so sorry that your plants are wrecked. Do you think some kind of setup with motion detector lights would scare them off?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 5:39PM
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beachlily z9a

Yep, those traps were full every day (and twice a day on a couple of them). It was a mess! My husband used a trap and got a big nasty male racoon. Vicious! We would never do that again--that's why we paid the trapper.

We've never had racoons go after the lawn! The possums make holes in them looking for grubs, but the damage they do just looks like golf divots.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 5:56PM
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Beachlily, we aren't the only ones having their lawn trashed by the raccoons (or so said the exterminator last winter, who had *every* one of their large animal traps out and were busy trapping raccoons all over the area).

As for today... *looks sheepish*

As it turns out, I panicked too soon. YES, the raccoon did dig out one pot completely, and did partly excavate a second pot with a daylily in it. I saw the broken off label and thought the empty pot was 'Victorian Lace', and came in to call the exterminator and post.

As it turns out, though, the partly excavated pot (still with a daylily clinging to it) was 'Victorian Lace' (so it was not lost). The best I can figure, the pot which was thoroughly dug out, emptied, and dragged around was something that had bare dirt and a dead plant in it.

So no daylilies were lost, and (thank God!) I don't have to worry about the local raccoons developing a taste for daylily salad.

(But now I have to wonder why the raccoon went after the dry-dirt pot, and I still have to worry about it dragging off and excavating the other potted daylilies! The exterminator who was here today ("gopher guy", I think of him) concurs that the raccoons are back (he pointed out more damage to the lawn), and they (the exterminators) will be back with the raccoon traps.)

Sorry for jumping to conclusions and raising a false alarm. I've had so much trouble with the critters here lately, that it wasn't hard to believe that the raccoons DID carry off and eat a daylily! LOL!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 11:36PM
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We had raccoon problems last year. We trapped several. Once we got the momma raccoon, we haven't been bothered by them. Every time my hubby would plant a new daylily, they'd dig it up and lay it down neatly alongside the hole. They did not eat the daylilies, though. Once we quit feeding our cat outside, the raccoons stopped coming around.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 12:44AM
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We haven't had pets for years, though our neighbors do. I don't know what their pet feeding routines are, and whether or not that factors into this problem.

According to the exterminator, though, the raccoon population is at a cyclic peak, and there has been so much population pressure in the peninsula north of us, that the raccoons have been migrating south and causing all of the problems down here.

When we bought the house (2000 or early 2001?), the previous owners noted raccoon problems in the disclosure (but didn't note the deer, gophers, and rats - grrr). We moved in January of 2002, and two years ago was the first indication of problems with one of my raised beds repeatedly being dug up (though I only figured out in retrospect last winter that it had to have been raccoons). So I believe in the cyclic population thing... just wish the population would plummet quickly!

(I don't know if they have any predators around here other than man... the exterminator said something to the effect that the population peaks, everyone goes on the warpath against them, lots of raccoons get trapped, their population plummets, and things quiet down again until the next cyclic peak.)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 1:02AM
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Update... the exterminators set the traps yesterday. They did it while we were not home, so one of them got put in the wrong location (at the wrong bench, on the opposite side of the garden from the bench where mulch and weed barrier fabric were torn up).

The trap in the side yard (site of the daylily pot digging) had a young raccoon in it this morning. I guess our guess was confirmed - but, oh joy, how many more of them are we going to catch?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 2:00PM
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