Armadillos are unique pests that are found in the southern and central areas of the United States. These hefty mammals can make their way into our yards and cause damage by digging in the soil. Luckily, there are easy and attainable ways to keep them away by using smells they hate.
Armadillos hate the scent of vinegar, cayenne pepper, pine, strong-scented essential oils, castor oil, Epsom salts, peppermint, and garlic. Armadillos rely on their sense of smell to find food, and these strong smells will overwhelm their noise, repelling them from the area.
If you’re tired of holes being dug in your yard by these armored animals, read on to discover all the scents that armadillos hate and how to use them in your yard.
Armadillos Hate The Scent Of Vinegar
Vinegar is an excellent repellent for armadillos mainly because it is usually on hand in the house and it is readily available at the local grocery store.
Vinegar can also be purchased online such as Lucy’s Family Owned- Natural Distilled White Vinegar. This comes in a 1-gallon container, giving you enough vinegar to repel armadillos for a while!
It’s recommended to use white vinegar to repel armadillos instead of apple cider vinegar. According to Harvard University, apple cider vinegar is less acidic, which means it has less of a “bite” to the scent.
We want our repellents to be super strong so that they drive away those pesky armadillos! You can use a few different techniques to repel armadillos with vinegar:
- Make a spray: Mix water and vinegar in a 50/50 ratio and place the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray around the yard in areas where armadillos are causing trouble. (Just be sure not to spray any of your plants as they may be sensitive to the vinegar).
- Make sachets: Dip a few cotton balls in white vinegar and place them in mesh bags that will allow the scent to escape into the air. Fill the bags with rocks or something heavy and set them out in problem areas of the yard.
- Use rags: Soak an old rag in vinegar and place the rag around problem areas such as a flowerbed or the bottom of a tree trunk where armadillos are digging.
Sprays are the most versatile and can be used almost anywhere in the yard except directly on plants. This is a good technique for hard-to-reach areas such as underneath sheds or decks.
Sachets are a great passive deterrent that can be placed anywhere in the yard. Rags are a great way to repel armadillos from the base of trees where they may peel the bark back looking for insects.
Make sure to reapply the scent often, about once a week, to keep it strong enough to repel armadillos. You’ll also want to reapply the scent after heavy rain.
Armadillos Can’t Stand The Smell Of Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne peppers are what is used in most hot sauces and flavors. It contains a chemical called capsaicin that gives the hot sauce its kick.
Have you ever put your nose close to a bottle of hot sauce and felt the sting of its flavor? Now, imagine having a nose that can smell 10x better than a human!
An article in the Journal of Behavioral Processes found that armadillos have such a great sense of smell that they can locate rewards based on scent alone and will choose rewards based entirely on scent.
With this in mind, we can use strong scents such as cayenne pepper to keep armadillos away from our precious flower beds and lush green grasses.
To use cayenne pepper to repel armadillos, try one of the below techniques:
- Sprinkle cayenne pepper flakes: Cayenne pepper flakes can be sprinkled directly onto the ground in the yard to deter armadillos. Indus’ Organics Cayenne Pepper Flakes come in a 10oz bag that can cover a small yard.
- Make a spray: Add 10-15 drops of hot sauce to 1 cup of water. Alternatively, you can add ¼ cup of freshly cut red peppers to ½ gallon of water and bring it to a boil. Allow the mixture to cool and add it to a spray bottle.
You can add onions, garlic, and other strong-scented ingredients to make the spray extra powerful.
The amazing thing about cayenne pepper is that it will also be a taste deterrent. If you sprinkle flakes or spray a mixture in the yard and armadillos happen to get a mouthful, they won’t soon return!
Use The Scent Of Pine To Keep Armadillos Away
There’s nothing quite as refreshing as breathing in the deep scent of pine while walking through the woods. It may be a pleasant smell to us, but armadillos can’t stand it!
When broken down to its bare bones, pine scent is caused by a combination of chemicals called alpha- and beta-pinene as well as limonene. All three chemicals are known to be effective at repelling several pests around the home and yard.
The reason pine works so well at repelling armadillos is that it is a powerful scent that masks the scent of their normal food.
Imagine you are following the scent of delicious bacon and then suddenly the overwhelming smell of chlorine or bleach masks the scent and you can’t find your way to the bacon. Bummer!
This is exactly how pine works, masking the scent of earthworms, grubs, and other ground-dwelling insects that armadillos love to eat.
Here’s how to use pine to repel armadillos from your yard:
- Pine straw: Instead of using mulch to make your landscape look nice, use pine straw such as USA Premium Pine Straw – Pine Needle Mulch. Spread it around your flowerbeds and landscaping to protect it from burrowing armadillos.
- Essential oil: grab a bottle of pine essential oil and mix 10-15 drops for every 1 cup of water. Place the mixture into a spray bottle and spray around the yard or concentrate on specific problem areas.
- Pine cleaner: You can use Pine-Sol All Purpose Cleaner the same way you would vinegar, either making a spray or soaking cotton balls and rags.
Strong-Scented Essential Oils Will Keep Armadillos Away
Essential oils are pretty amazing and gaining popularity more and more. Their therapeutic benefits are just one aspect of essential oils. The other is that they are an effective pest deterrent!
Not all essential oils will repel armadillos. You want the strong-smelling stuff to keep these trundling animals out of your yard.
Some of the strongest scented essential oils include:
- Ylang Ylang
- Nootka Tree
All of these oils have a little more kick than the rest of them. To use essential oils, simply mix 10-15 drops for every 1 cup of water and place them in a spray bottle.
Remember, scent deterrents should be reapplied often to keep the scent strong. Otherwise, armadillos will ignore them and continue to dig through your yard. Be sure to read information about every essential oil before using it around your house to make sure its properly used around your home.
Armadillos Hate Castor Oil
Castor oil has been around for a long time but hasn’t gotten much attention as a pest deterrent until recently.
The oil is derived from castor beans – castor oil is useful when trying to repel burrowing animals such as armadillos.
It also works on moles and gophers if you have problems with those pests! To use castor oil, you have a few different options:
- Commercial products: Sweeney’s 4 Pound Mole and Gopher Repellent Granules uses castor oil as the main active ingredient. It comes in granules to make it easy to spread around the yard.
- Home recipe: Mix ¼ cup castor oil with 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap or detergent. Combine this with 1 gallon of water. This will cover approximately 3,000 square feet of soil, so use less mixture for a smaller yard.
It may be easier to place your homemade mixture in a sprayer that can be attached to the hose. If you have a small area you need to protect, you can place part of the mixture in a spray bottle to spray those areas and save the rest for your next application.
When applying castor oil, you’ll want to make sure it soaks into the ground. Watering your lawn after application can make sure it sinks into the soil.
On a side note, castor oil will not harm armadillos. It’s just super smelly to them and will deter them from digging into the ground!
Epsom Salts Can Keep Armadillos Away
Epsom salts are used to ease sore muscles and can help you relax before bed. They’re also effective at repelling armadillos from your yard!
Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate and consist of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. The reason Epsom salts are effective at repelling armadillos is due to their strong scent.
Remember our wonderful bacon analogy? When armadillos smell Epsom salts, they have a hard time smelling anything else, including potential food. This will make them scurry off to another, less-scented yard.
Using Epsom salts to repel armadillos is easy. You can use any Epsom salt that you might find at your local store or online. It is okay if it is scented and in fact will help deter armadillos even more.
Spread the Epsom salts around your yard, concentrating on areas where you’ve seen armadillo damage or that you want to protect from future armadillo visitors.
The great thing about Epsom salts is that they are okay to use around your plants. They may even help the soil if there is a magnesium deficiency.
Use Powerful Peppermint To Repel Armadillos
Peppermint is used in a variety of things ranging from the flavoring in food products to insecticides and cleaning agents. This perennial herb has so many uses, including repelling armadillos!
The main repelling ingredients in peppermint are menthol and pulegone, both of which are powerfully scented chemicals that give peppermint its repellent effect.
The awesome thing about peppermint is that you have so many options when it comes to repelling pesky uninvited armadillos.
- Commercial repellents: Mighty Mint’s 16oz Peppermint Oil Rodent Repellent Spray comes in a ready-to-use spray bottle. Spray it in areas where you’ve noticed armadillo damage or places you want to protect.
- Essential oils: Peppermint essential oils come in a concentrated bottle. Make sure to dilute it by only adding 10-15 drops for every 1 cup of water and place it in a spray bottle.
- Plant: You can use the actual peppermint plant to help repel armadillos from the yard. You should go out and crush some of the leaves on the plant every few days to keep the peppermint scent strong.
- Sachets: Just like vinegar, you can soak a few cotton balls in peppermint essential oil and place them in mesh bags around the yard.
Peppermint does double-duty in your yard as it can repel armadillos, rodents, and many annoying insects that plague our yards in the summer.
Armadillos Hate The Smell Of Garlic
Armadillos may not be related to vampires, but they hate the scent of garlic all the same. Garlic is an easily-attainable product at your local grocery store or purchased online.
The main reason that garlic repels armadillos is because of its strong scent. The smell overpowers an armadillo’s ability to locate other food sources, repelling it from the area.
According to Oregon State University, garlic has sulfur-containing compounds and a chemical called allicin that is responsible for the signature smell of garlic. The smell, wonderful and delicious to us, is too powerful for an armadillo’s sensitive nose.
You can use garlic in a few different ways to repel armadillos from your yard. You can also combine it with cayenne pepper to make an extra-potent repellent.
- Garlic powder: Like Epsom salts and cayenne pepper flakes, you can sprinkle garlic powder around the yard to repel armadillos. Lightly water the lawn afterward to help the powder stick to the ground.
- Combine with cayenne pepper: Boil ½ gallon of water with ¼ cup chopped cayenne peppers and chopped garlic. Allow the mixture to cool and strain it into a spray bottle to use around the yard.
- Commercial products: Bonide’s Repels-All Animal Repellent comes in a 32oz read-to-use spray bottle. The main ingredients include garlic, putrescent egg solids, and clove oil.
What Else Do Armadillos Hate?
We’ve talked a lot about scent repellents that can be used to keep armadillos away. What else can you use to deter these little armored critters from your yard?
Armadillos Don’t Like Sprinklers
Despite what movies would have you think, armadillos do not like living in dry deserts. They much prefer wooded environments that are close to water.
That being said, armadillos don’t LOVE being soaked in water and they certainly don’t like a surprise splash of water when they’re digging around in your yard.
The Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler will surprise an armadillo with a harmless blast of water. The great thing about the Orbit is that it has a setting where it will only spray at night when armadillos are most active, saving you on your water bill.
If you can, set up your sprinkler in an area where you’ve seen armadillos skulking about or in an area you want to protect such as a flowerbed or near a garden.
Here’s a detailed list of signs to look for that indicate where armadillos are in your yard.
Armadillos Hate A Yard With No Food Sources
If you have seen an armadillo in your yard or you’ve found the results of their digging, there is likely a reason why they are in your yard.
The three main reasons armadillos are in your yard include food, water, and shelter. If your yard contains one of these three things, you will attract armadillos.
Now, let’s focus on the food aspect.
Any of the items below will attract armadillos to your yard. Make haste to eliminate them to make your yard unattractive to those pesky nighttime visitors:
- Spilled garbage: Keep your garbage cans stored in a shed until pick-up day. If you can’t keep them stored, try using bungee cords to keep the lids secure even if they get knocked over.
- Pet food: Feed pets indoors or else pick up the food bowls each evening and replace them in the morning.
- Fallen fruit: armadillos are omnivores that will eat fruit that has fallen from trees. Be sure to pick up any fruit as soon as it falls from the tree.
- Insects and worms: Armadillos LOVE digging in your yard for worms and other soil-dwelling insects. Avoid overwatering and over-fertilizing your yard as this will cause the population of insects and worms to explode.
- Gardens: Armadillos will raid your garden for veggies, berries, and fruit. You can build an armadillo-proof fence that is 2 feet high and buried 18 inches into the soil.
Armadillos Dislike Your Dog!
Armadillos are one of the few animals that have expanded their populations in response to human expansion.
They use our roads, railways, and bridges to enter areas that were never available to them before. One of the consequences of this is that they are now living close to people’s houses.
Despite them cozying up next to our homes and digging in our yards, there is one thing that they do not like being around and that is our dogs.
A study reported in the Journal of Ecology and Evolution found that armadillo activity occurred far later in the night when domestic dogs were around.
Normally, armadillos are active during the evening hours and at dawn. However, due to the presence of dogs, armadillos are finding that they don’t feel safe wandering around and are forced to move only during the small hours of the night.
If your dog is a light sleeper and starts barking at two in the morning, it can help further deter armadillos from the yard. The scent of your dog is yet another armadillo deterrent.
Armadillos Hate A Strong Fence
If you can fence your entire yard in, then this is truly the most effective way to deter armadillos.
However, most people cannot afford to fence their whole yard or simply do not have the time to do so. In that case, you can use fencing only in areas that you want to specifically protect from armadillos.
Think flowerbeds, gardens, or small trees that are just getting established and need protection.
To build an armadillo-proof fence, it should be 24 inches high and buried 18 inches into the ground. Armadillos are talented burrowers and need to be deterred both aboveground and below.
Traps & Relocation
Traps are not recommended unless you are willing to dispose of the animal afterward. Relocating live-trapped armadillos is also not recommended and is illegal in some states.
Armadillos are very smart animals and can find their way back to the original trap location within a few days. Additionally, armadillos that are relocated far enough away to be introduced to a new population of armadillos can spread unwanted ailments.
If you’d rather not harm the armadillo, your best option is to repel it from your yard and eliminate food sources to get the armadillo to move on to a different location.
Contact A Professional!
If you have tried repellents and can’t seem to get rid of that pesky armadillo, you can always contact a professional for advice or to help you get rid of the armadillo.
Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in contact with a local professional in your area that can help with your uninvited guest.
That’s All For Now!
Armadillos are unique animals that sometimes find their way into our yards because of food, water, or shelter.
You can repel armadillos using strong scents that will overpower the smell of other food sources, thus driving the armadillos out of your yard.
To recap, the 8 scents that armadillos hate include:
- Cayenne pepper
- Essential oil
- Castor oil
- Epsom salt
Be sure to reapply the scent once a week to keep the smell strong enough to repel armadillos. You’ll also want to reapply it after heavy rain.
Always read the label and directions for commercial products, as these may not need to be reapplied as often or after rain.
Combine scent repellents with other repellent techniques to keep those pesky armadillos out of your yard for good! If all else fails, contact a professional for help.
Brett A. DeGregorio, John T. Veon, Andrhea Massey, Wildlife associates of nine‐banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) burrows in Arkansas, Ecology and Evolution, 10.1002/ece3.8858, 12, 5, (2022).
Gammons, D. J., Mengak, M. T., & Conner, L. M. (2009). Translocation of nine-banded armadillos. Human-Wildlife Conflicts, 3(1), 64–71.
Garrett, Howard. “Wildlife/Animals”. Dear Dirt Doctor: Questions Answered the Natural Way, New York, USA: University of Texas Press, 2021, pp. 183-186.
Vincent, J. L., & Vonk, J. (2022). Aroma-dillo or Area-dillo? An examination of armadillos’ sensory modality bias. Behavioural Processes, 202, 104751.
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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