In smaller numbers, lizards can be beneficial backyard guests. But in large numbers, they can become a nuisance—especially when they start dropping from the ceilings of your home! Luckily, by removing the things that attract them, you can reduce the number of reptiles in your yard. But what is it that attracts lizards?
Lizards are most commonly attracted to:
- Plants and bushes
- Warm and cool areas
In order to keep lizards out of your yard, you should trim your grass, limit standing water, and maintain a low insect/rodent population to avoid attracting them in the first place.
Unfortunately, many of the things that attract lizards are hard to remove from your lawn, like warm and cool areas. But don’t worry, we have some suggestions! Continue reading to learn more about what attracts lizards and how to keep the reptiles out of your space.
Lizards Are Attracted to Insects
According to a data paper published in Global Ecology and Biogeography, there are around 6,657 known species of lizards in the world—with several regional species likely still undiscovered.
Most known species are insectivores, which means they eat insects and invertebrates. Like most living things, lizards tend to go where the food is, and they’re attracted to areas where they can find insects to eat.
Depending on the species, most backyard lizards eat:
Exactly how much each lizard eats will depend on their species and what stage of life they’re in.
For example, baby lizards eat more than adults because they need extra nutrition to grow. Additionally, they eat more frequently because the smaller insects they eat are digested more quickly.
Since lizards eat the bugs that most people would prefer to get rid of, they’re often viewed as beneficial backyard neighbors. But not everyone enjoys them. Fortunately, there are ways to make your yard less attractive to lizards who’re looking for food.
How To Limit Insects In Your Yard (And Keep Lizards Away)
Because they’re attracted to insects, you can control lizard populations in and around your home by reducing insect activity.
Flowers and flowering plants attract insects that are looking for nectar and pollen. This can include bees, wasps, beetles, and butterflies. Additionally, many insects, such as slugs, caterpillars, and aphids, are attracted to vegetable plants.
Eliminating plants and flowers from your yard will go a long way in keeping lizards away from your home. Still, you don’t have to sacrifice your green thumb to keep the little reptiles out of your garden.
Plants such as mint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, pencil tree, camphor, and herb-of-grace will repel most garden lizards. Adding them to your garden beds will help reduce lizard activity in these areas.
Additionally, gardeners will often use lavender, basil, mint, and thyme to reduce insect activity in their gardens. If there aren’t any good bugs to eat, lizards will find somewhere else to call home.
But How Can You Keep Lizards Out Of Your House?
Backyard lizards often scuttle into houses in search of food. Finding lizards in your home could mean that you have an insect infestation. Because of this, lizards are common in places where insect activity is most prevalent, such as kitchens and basements.
Eliminating pest insects should reduce the number of lizards you see in your house. How you approach insect control will depend on the type of bugs you have in your place. However, keeping basements clear of spiders and storing food properly to reduce ants and roaches can help enormously.
If you’re looking for a natural way to repel insects, you can try this Natural Insect and Pest Control Spray. Its non-toxic ingredients make it safe to use in your home and around pets.
Most sprays work through using strong scents that repel pests. Learn more about what scents you can use to repel lizards in our article on the 8 scents that lizards hate!
If you’re unsure what type of insects are bringing lizards into your house or how to control them, contact a local professional for advice.
Lizards Are Attracted To Rodents
Okay, not all lizards are attracted to rodents. However, rodent activity may attract larger lizards (such as monitor lizards and skinks) to your yard.
Monitor lizards are not native to America and were likely introduced via the exotic pet trade. Despite this, they’re considered an invasive species, and several monitor lizards now call Florida home.
According to the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, monitor lizards prefer to hunt over large areas. An infestation is rare, and if you see a monitor lizard in your yard, it’s likely just passing through.
Still, if you have an abundance of food on your property (such as a serious rodent infestation) they’re more likely to return or stick around.
In addition to monitors, some species of skink eat mice as well. Most skink species are omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals. Their diets consist primarily of fruits, plants, and insects, but larger species will eat mice and other lizards.
It should be noted that monitor lizards are a rare sight in most yards. They’re not as common as other smaller backyard lizards. Still, if you know monitor lizards are local to your area, you should take precautions to keep them out of your yard.
How To Limit Rodents In your Yard
The best way to keep rodents from attracting lizards to your yard is to remove the rodents from your home.
Look for signs of a rodent infestation. Signs can include:
- Rodent feces
- Chew marks
- Strong musky odor
- Smudges along the walls
- Clawing or chewing sounds
- Holes in walls or baseboards
- Sounds of movement in your walls or ceilings
- Seeing rats or mice present in and around your home
If you want to remove rodents naturally, remove their food source. This includes both human and pet food.
- Keep human food appropriately stored in places that rodents cannot access. These Airtight Food-Storage Containers are perfect because rodents cannot chew through heavy-duty plastic.
In addition to human food, pet food offers many of the nutrients that rodents need. Storing pet food in bins like this Collapsible Airtight Pet Food Container can help.
If they cannot find food on your property, the rodents should leave in search of a new food source. However, you can help convince them to leave by utilizing these 15 scents that rats hate.
- Keeping your home clean and tidy can prevent rodents from returning. Mice and rats can find food in unexpected places, and they’ll often scrounge for crumbs behind appliances in the kitchen, from dirty dishes in the sink, and even between floorboards.
Remember, rats and mice often carry diseases that could harm you and your family. So keeping your home rodent-free is vital, even if you don’t live in an area with lizards.
Lizards Are Attracted To Plants and Bushes
In addition to insects and rodents, some plants and bushes attract lizards to your yard because they offer food or shelter.
While most lizards are happy to munch on insects and the occasional rodent, a small percentage of herbivorous lizards would prefer to eat the vegetation in your garden. The green iguana is one of the most common examples of a herbivorous lizard.
Native to Central America, South America, and parts of the Caribbeans, green iguanas are yet another example of what can happen when exotic pets are released into the wild.
According to an article published in the journal Iguana, green iguanas were released in Florida as early as the 1960s. Because adult iguanas don’t have many native predators and can live for 12 to 15 years, they quickly became an invasive species.
As the name suggests, green iguanas are green. They’re easy to identify because of the row of spikes along their back and the black bands on their tails. Although they aren’t typically dangerous to humans, they can wreak havoc on your lawn and garden.
Iguanas love fruit, flowering plants, and other vegetation. They’re often seen munching on roses, orchids, nasturtiums, mangos, avocados, and various vegetables and leafy greens.
Juvenile green iguanas may supplement their diet with snails and other small insects, but adult iguanas primarily feed on vegetation.
But not all lizards are drawn to plants because they want to eat them. Instead, many small lizards wish to eat the insects that call certain plants home. Additionally, they will often use ground-covering plants to hide from predators such as birds and cats.
What To Do If Lizards Are Going After Your Foliage
Unless you live in a barren desert, removing every plant or bush from your yard is almost impossible. So what can you do to prevent lizards from being attracted to your garden?
First, do a bit of research on the local species. There are several species of lizard scattered throughout the United States. Learning more about the local species will help you determine what they like and dislike.
This Reptile and Amphibian Pocket Guide is full of excellent information. It can help you identify which lizards are living in your yard and what they might be attracted to.
Asking around the neighborhood is another great way to learn about the local lizard species. Nobody knows what attracts the local wildlife better than someone who has lived in the area for decades!
In addition to learning more about specific species, following the general tips below could help reduce lizard sightings in and around your home.
- Don’t plant dense or low-hanging plants near the walls of your house. This could make it easier for lizards to get inside your home.
- Remove ivy or other vines from fences and walls around your property. Lizards like to climb, and ivy allows them to climb around while remaining hidden and protected from predators.
- Avoid planting berry bushes or nectar-producing flowers. These will attract insects, which attract lizards. And if you live in Florida, they can attract green iguanas.
- Spray plants that you don’t want to get eaten with pepper spray. Homemade sprays, such as pepper spray, are a natural way to deter lizards from eating your plants. They can also chase away unwanted pests, such as slugs.
Lizards Are Attracted To Water
Lizards are attracted to various water sources and will commonly enter yards and homes, searching for something to drink.
Like any living thing, lizards must stay hydrated to survive. But, how they get their water depends on their species.
For example, many smaller lizards get hydration through the insects that they eat and can go several days before they need to find an alternative water source. Larger lizards may get hydration through fruit but cannot go as long without locating something to drink.
Backyard lizards are attracted to multiple bodies of water, including:
- Leaky pipes
- Dew drops
In addition to being thirsty, many lizards are attracted to water because water attracts insects.
What To Do About Yard Water Sources
You can make your lawn less desirable to lizards by removing or covering water sources around your property.
- Cover pools when you’re not using them. Not only will lizards drink from pools, but they can fall from the trees above them. Although lizards can swim, they have difficulty climbing out of pools and can drown.
- Keep an eye on your pet food dishes. Since pets need water, you can’t remove this water source. But you can make it less accessible to lizards. Utilizing smells that lizards dislike around pet dishes may help.
- Repair leaky pipes and faucets. A leaky hose or outdoor faucet is an excellent spot for wildlife to find clean, cold water. You can eliminate this source of water by repairing leaky pipes or covering faucets.
Additionally, lizards may sometimes scuttle into homes to find water. Keep cupboards dry by fixing leaky pipes, dump standing water, and try to keep areas that collect condensation as dry as possible.
- Remove standing water from your property. Standing water is a haven for insects. It attracts insects looking to lay their eggs in water and insects that want to eat the tiny larvae. Those bugs then attract hungry lizards. This is true inside your house too.
Empty watering cans, mop buckets, drip pans, and flush toilets that you don’t often use at least once a week. You should also check for areas where water is trapped and pooled around your property.
- Offer lizards an alternative source of water. Placing tiny bowls of water around the perimeter of your lawn can help draw lizards to these areas instead of them coming into the high-traffic areas of your yard.
If you want to try this yourself, check out this Automatic Reptile Water Dispenser.
- Water gardens in the evening. Although some species are nocturnal, most lizards are active during the day. Watering your plants in the evening will prevent lizards from accessing the water that collects on plants.
Lizards Are Attracted To Both Warm and Cool Areas
Because lizards actively regulate their body temperature, they’re attracted to lawns that provide warm basking spaces and shady areas to cool down.
You’ve probably heard the term “cold-blooded” used to describe reptiles at some point in your life. Unfortunately, that term is a bit misleading, so most scientists now use the word “ectothermic” instead.
Animals are classified as ectothermic (cold-blooded) or endothermic (warm-blooded) depending on how they regulate their body temperature. Lizards, like most reptiles, are ectothermic.
According to an article published in the multidisciplinary biomedical journal Temperature, ectothermic organisms rely on the external environment to maintain their body temperature and need heat to move, hunt and digest their food.
Backyard lizards spend their days basking in the sun to warm up. If they get too hot, they’ll find a shady place to sit and cool off. You can typically find lizards basking in the morning sun or cooling off in a shaded area.
How To Limit Warm And Cool Areas In Your Yard
Removing warm and cool areas from your lawn would be impossible, but making these spaces less accessible can help keep lizards out of your yard.
- Remove any flat items that might retain heat. Lizards will sunbathe anywhere that the sun will hit them directly. Still, they’ll often choose to sunbathe on things that also warm them from the bottom.
For example, lizards love to sunbathe on rocks, stones, bricks, pavement, ceramic pots, and any surface that retains heat. If you cannot remove these things from your yard, place them near plants that lizards dislike.
- Keep your garage and shed organized. If lizards become too warm, they’ll search for a safe place to cool off, which is how many garden lizards end up among your storage boxes.
Additionally, there may be some tasty insects back there that they’re munching on. Either way, keeping these areas organized can help reduce lizard activity.
- Pick up lawn debris. Cluttered lawns contain numerous hiding places that attract reptiles and other pests. Storage bins such as this Waterproof Outdoor Storage Container can help you store outdoor items and eliminate hiding places in your yard.
- Lizard-proof the structures on your property. Check for cracks and crevices around windows and doors; replace loose siding, fix torn screens, and seal holes between boards or in your home’s foundation.
- Store firewood appropriately. Stacks of firewood are an excellent place for lizards to sunbathe and find food. Plus, the crevices between the wood offer shaded spots for them to cool off. Keep insects and reptiles out of your firewood with this YardStash Heavy-Duty Outdoor Storage Box.
Are Lizards Attracted To Light?
If you live in an area where lizards are common, you might have noticed them scaling the walls of your home at night, especially walls near a light source. But are lizards attracted to light?
Some species of lizard are attracted to light fixtures, but it’s not the light that’s attracting them. Instead, lizards have learned that light equals tasty insects and a bit of warmth.
This is not uncommon, and many insect eaters have learned to hunt for prey near and around light fixtures. For example, spiders often spin their webs near lights that attract insects.
The lizards are only there for the bugs, and many of the bugs they eat are ones you want to eliminate. Still, if the thought of lizards roaming around on the walls of your home makes you cringe, yellow light bulbs could help.
These Amber Yellow LED Lights do not attract insects as a typical light bulb does. And fewer insects means fewer lizards foraging in that area.
That’s A Wrap!
At the end of the day, lizards aren’t the worst backyard guest you could have. They usually keep to themselves, aren’t typically a problem to humans, and eat a variety of pesky insects.
But not everyone is happy to have lizards running around their yard, especially when the reptiles start getting into their home.
If you live in an area where lizards are common, it can be hard to avoid them entirely. But by following the tips above, you can hopefully make your yard less attractive to lizards in hopes that they’ll move on to more desirable living quarters.
Andrade, D. V., Gavira, R. S., & Tattersall, G. J. (2015). Thermogenesis in ectothermic vertebrates. Temperature, 2(4), 454-454.
Krysko, K. L., Enge, K. M., Donlan, E. M., Seitz, J. C., & Golden, E. A. (2007). Distribution, natural history, and impacts of the introduced green iguana (Iguana iguana) in Florida. Iguana, 14(3), 142-151.
Losos, J. B., & Greene, H. W. (1988). Ecological and evolutionary implications of diet in monitor lizards. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 35(4), 379-407.
Meiri, S. (2018). Traits of lizards of the world: Variation around a successful evolutionary design. Global ecology and biogeography, 27(10), 1168-1172.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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