Probably the most psychologically aversive infestation of all is that of skunks. Even the lovable Pepé Le Pew, a cartoon characterization of the striped skunk Mephitis mephitis, from Disney's Looney Tunes, with all of his self proclaimed success at wooing, and his honey-laced fake French accent, has done little to change the world's impression of this dreaded mammal. Undoubtedly, a skunk's ability to put fear into the heart of the bravest of us is inexorably linked to its nauseating, if not lethal, protective mechanism that consists of an anal gland near its tail that allows it to spray a blast of musk that is pungent, long-lasting and extremely offensive to the nose. Although there are no known long-term effects of being sprayed with skunk musk, it is known to cause temporary blindness, nausea, vomiting, headaches and irritation of the eyes and nostrils. Unfortunately, the smell will last for several weeks or even months if it gets into your furniture or, worse, on your pets. However, most commercial deodorizers, especially the ones with a citrus smell, should be able to take away that initial sharp, stinging odor.

Skunk Problems: Why All The Fuss?

Apart from the obvious ones, skunks are also responsible for a host of other avoidable problems such as tipping over unsecured trash cans, killing domestic poultry along with their eggs, digging up lawns and golf courses, and also carrying diseases like rabies and gastrointestinal parasites such as tapeworms. They may also be a major hazard to ground-nesting birds or endangered species of smaller mammals. For these and several other reasons they are considered a menace, and several ways have been devised to deal with them.

Methods Of Dealing With Skunks: Tips And Tricks

First, deal with any damage to turf by using a mild insecticide that's known to have low toxicity to wildlife – the warning label at the back should give you this information. This will usually help get rid of grubs and other subterranean bugs that make up a big part of a skunk's diet, and will save your lawn from further damage. The next step will be to eliminate any potential den sites such as brush piles, junk cars, open storage facilities, and breaches in the skirting around buildings. It's very similar to the stratagem employed when trying to get rid of long-staying houseguests or relatives – if they can't make themselves comfortable, they'll just leave. Of course, with people, you need to be just a tad bit more subtle, and insecticides are by and large highly ineffective. Besides, you could find yourself doing time at the local county jail.

Skunk Deterrents: Effective Ways To Fight Back

If these actions haven't taken care of your problem (with the skunks, that is) you can always try repellents. The more effective ones include keeping the area brightly lit at night (these animals are nocturnal and don't like harsh lights), using citrus sprays or spreading peels of citrus fruit around the area, spraying dog urine (or that of any skunk predator) or, if you've found the den, you can stuff down rags soaked in ammonia at night, when the skunks are out foraging for food.

Trapping Skunks: Staying On The Right Side Of The Law

If you're planning on trapping the skunk, make absolutely sure that whatever you use is legal in your state. You don't want to be on the wrong end of the trap. You might want to call animal control for help if you don't want to take any chances yourself. They will have the appropriate trapping gear and it's a whole lot less of an inconvenience to you.