Pros: Not stinky, probably tastes nasty.
Cons: May stain or damage the very plants it is supposed to protect
ARGH!!! Rabbits ate my gorgeous tulips this spring! DIE! Well maybe I don't really want to kill them, I guess I really just want them to leave my garden alone. I have no idea when I bought Critter Ridder? Animal Repellent, but there it was, sitting in my garage, and so without so much as carefully reading the directions, because I know I would never buy anything dangerous (denial and stupidity really are not good things to develop, but sometimes I seem to fall into both), I boldly went out to my tulip areas and sprayed away.
That was several months ago. I was foolish and I regretted my actions later because Critter Ridder? Animal Repellent appeared to burn the heck out of my tulips and other ornamentals.
Critter Ridder claims to deter a variety of different animals, including skunks, groundhogs (woodchucks), dogs, cats, raccoons and squirrels. There is nothing that says it is effective against rabbits, but as far as I could tell, the rabbits never touched anything I sprayed with this product. This is a good thing because I was starting to consider hiring Elmer Fudd to take care of that screwy rabbit. They also claim that their active ingredients irritate animals when they touch or taste the product. The active ingredients in this product are Black Pepper Oil, Pepperine, Capsaisin and other related capsaisinoids. Basically this is a mixture of black and white pepper components, and the stuff that makes hot peppers hot. Why did it appear to discolor and damage my plants?
I have no idea why such an organic product would do such damage, but Amazon.com had this to say about its usage: "It also helps keep animals from damaging ornamental/landscape plantings and discourages squirrels from birdfeeders. (Test-spray in an inconspicuous area to avoid staining, especially on wooden feeders.)" The website for Critter Ridder, www.havahart.com, warns against using this product on tender seedlings or plants that are stressed by drought, so clearly this isn't exactly the most gentle product in the world, even if it is "environmentally friendly."
To use the product as directed, one must shake the bottle, then spray the area to be treated against animals. This is pretty simple and easy to use.
I am embarrassed to admit that earlier today I spaced out and used this product on some rudbeckia and some echinachea that the critters are enjoying a bit too much. My hyper-sensitive sense of smell was not activated by any unpleasant odors, and as of this evening, my plants showed no sign of damage from the product and no further critter damage. However the product claims it is only effective for only 30 days, and it really isn't made to deter rabbits. The stinky products I have used successfully last up to 90 days and deter rabbits very well.
So what about the tulips? If Critter Ridder can discolor wood birdfeeders and shouldn't be used on vulnerable plants, I suspect it is the culprit for my tulip damage earlier this year. As for repelling critters, my guess is that it probably made the tulips less tasty so the bunny went to someone else's garden where the tulips were tastier. This is what any non-toxic repellent should do.