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Best tech for keeping pests at bay

Dousing your garden in pesticides is easy, but it damages non-target life around your home. Once the rain starts coming down, those chemicals continue to be a hazard downstream. For the bigger pests, you might have to look at more violent countermeasures. Luckily, there's a wide range of less harmful solutions for keeping your greenery beautiful and pest-free. Let's take a look at some of our favorite tech for keeping bugs, slugs, birds, and badgers out of your garden.

Elechome Bug Zapper

Elechome Bug Zapper

Bye-bye bug spray
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Agfabric Floating Row Cover

Agfabric Floating Row Cover

A hug for your tomatoes
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Magic Cat Nocturnal Animal Repellent

Magic Cat Nocturnal Animal Repellent

Spook nighttime predators
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Bird-X Outdoor Laser Repeller

Bird-X Outdoor Laser Repeller

Birds hate lasers
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Beslands Snail Trap

Beslands Snail Trap

Get slugs drunk
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Two campers checking a map using the Elechome Bug Zapper as a light.
Amazon

Elechome Bug Zapper

Bye-bye bug spray

Pros
  • USB charging for your phone
  • Solar panel extends battery life
  • Built-in light
Cons
  • Inconvenient to clean

Sure, it's important to keep bugs off your plants, but you'll want some help keeping them off yourself while you're weeding. Portable bug zappers have become powerful and effective. With one of these set up, you can avoid the chemical repellent bath.

The Elechome Bug Zapper bundles in quite a few functions that are bound to be handy around the yard. For one, it's got a solar panel on top to keep the charge high throughout the day. A USB-C plug lets you charge your phone at the same time. When the sun starts setting, the built-in light can help you find your way back home. IP66 waterproofing even keeps it safe in the rain. This is all on top of the core job of attracting gnats, mosquitos, flies, moths, bees, and wasps in all directions with UV light and introducing them to 3,000 volts.

Elechome Bug Zapper

Elechome Bug Zapper

Bye-bye bug spray
Agfabric Floating Row Cover protecting plants in a garden.
Amazon

Agfabric Floating Row Cover

A hug for your tomatoes

Pros
  • Customizable sizes
  • Holds heat
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Rips easily

Hobby farmers will be spending a fair bit of time tending to fruits and vegetables, which can be especially vulnerable to hungry wildlife. For those crops, we have to get into physical barriers. Finding the right balance of protection while maintaining airflow, humidity, and sunlight is tricky, but the right row covers can do the job.

Agfabric makes a Floating Row Cover in lengths from 25 feet to 500 feet and heights between 6 feet and 13 feet. In addition to blocking birds, bugs, rabbits, and other pests from getting into your crops, they also provide frost protection and cover from snow. The polypropylene fabric is permeable enough to let 85% of light in, and the fabric is fully breathable.

Agfabric Floating Row Cover

Agfabric Floating Row Cover

A hug for your tomatoes

Magic Cat Nocturnal Animal Repellent

Spook nighttime predators

Pros
  • Solar-powered
  • Automatic
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • Requires routine repositioning

For larger pests, you're going to need to get creative. Foxes, coyotes, and owls can be a danger to your livestock or pets.

The Magic Cat Nocturnal Animal Repellent takes an imaginative twist on the classic solar-powered garden light. By setting two red lights in the shape of eyes and having them flicker throughout the night, larger animals that see them should be deterred from coming close. The theory is that animals have an instinctive fear of fire and that simulating it is enough to get them to avoid the area. There's also the predatory threat of the eye shape. For best effectiveness, you'll need to position these at eye level to the kind of animal you're dealing with and cycle positions regularly so animals don't get used to the one spot. The Magic Cat Nocturnal Animal Repellent should be visible out to about half a mile, which provides loads of coverage if spaced out properly. The device is rated IP44, so you can leave it out all day and all night, including through rain.

Magic Cat Nocturnal Animal Repellent

Magic Cat Nocturnal Animal Repellent

Spook nighttime predators
Bird-X laser deterrent cast against a garden at night.
Bird-X

Bird-X Outdoor Laser Repeller

Birds hate lasers

Pros
  • Erratic pattern annoys the heck out of birds
  • Stake allows for easy in-ground installation
  • Remote included
Cons
  • Care must be taken to avoid damaging animal vision

As it turns out, birds hate raves. They see lasers as solid colors, so they're a little freaked out by them. Turn your garden into a party to make sure they aren't pecking away at your plants (you can skip the music, though). These deterrents are animated in fast, jarring patterns that will be enough to keep any avians amply uninterested.

The Bird-X Outdoor Laser Repeller operates at a low enough wattage that eye contact shouldn't blind birds. In general, with these kinds of lasers, you'll want to make sure they aren't overly powerful for the kinds of birds you're trying to shoo away in the most awesome way possible.

Bird-X Outdoor Laser Repeller

Bird-X Outdoor Laser Repeller

Birds hate lasers
Beslands snail trap buried in the sand and being filled with beer.
Amazon

Beslands Snail Trap

Get slugs drunk

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Effective
  • Comes in pack of five
Cons
  • Requires routine check-ins

If slugs and snails are the banes of your existence, just get them drunk. Beer traps are a proven fix for these sorts of infestations. Apparently, slugs and snails pick up on the scent of yeast from far away. Just bury these little containers around the garden, fill them halfway, come check in on them after a week, and they should be full of sad, slimy bugs swimming in a pit of their own depravity. These traps from Beslands come in packs of five. Just don't waste your good beer, OK?

If you need a little more help, copper flashing can also deter slugs and snails.

Beslands Snail Trap

Beslands Snail Trap

Get slugs drunk

Frequently Asked Questions

Do ultrasonic repellents work?

When looking at non-chemical options for rodent or insect repellents, ultrasonic emitters may appear to be an appealing option. Unfortunately, there's little science that supports their effectiveness, and there's actually enough to show that they don't work. In fact, the FTC had to levy charges against some manufacturers for false advertising on this front.

That covers some of the hardware that can make your garden look its best this summer, but don't forget to check out some of our favorite gardening apps of 2022!

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