Iguanas are currently found in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and are thought to have come to the U.S. from Central and South America as stowaways on boats and as people released their pet iguanas into the wild. Although they are fascinating creatures, these large lizards are prolific invaders that voraciously consume native plants, which in turn harms native wildlife. If iguanas are a nuisance where you live, you can discourage them from taking over your garden by using an integrated approach that includes habitat modification and exclusion techniques supplemented by a homemade iguana repellent.
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Make Your Yard Less Attractive
Overgrown plants and dense bushes and trees are attractive to iguanas, and they often hide there. They also gravitate toward piles of rocks, wood, and other debris lying around your yard and may even take shelter in canoes and kayaks. These all provide protective cover for iguanas and make them feel safe, so you'll want to store your boats in the garage and keep your yard tidy and well maintained to offer less shelter to these animals.
Iguanas enjoy eating a variety of flowers, vegetables, and fruits, including hibiscus, roses, orchids, jasmine, mangos, avocados, berries, melons, squashes, leafy greens, nickerbean, firebush, and Washington fan palms. If iguanas are eating your plants, you may have to consider removing the plants altogether and situating potted plants in a greenhouse so the animals no longer have access to them.
As an alternative, place a protective barrier or wire netting around your plants. Iguanas are good diggers, so the wire must extend underground. If you have fruit trees in your yard, cut off a favorite food source by picking up any fruit that has fallen to the ground, removing low-hanging fruit, and wrapping sheet metal around tree trunks approximately 18 inches from the ground to discourage climbing. Iguanas dislike citrus fruits, so you may want to think about planting citrus trees in your yard.
If you do any outdoor dining, clean up immediately and look for any fallen food or crumbs as iguanas also eat human food. Keep dog or cat food inside your home since iguanas will gladly help themselves to pet food. Iguanas can also get into trash cans when scavenging for their next meal. Use only trash cans that lock or place something heavy on top of trash can lids to act as a weight so iguanas can't reach the contents. If iguanas come to your yard and cannot find food, they will soon move on.
Use a DIY Neem Oil Spray
Neem oil is a natural pest control remedy that repels green iguanas and works for many insect pests as well. There are a number of neem oil sprays you can buy, but you can also make your own:
- Purchase organic crude or raw 100 percent pure, cold-pressed neem oil for optimal quality and effectiveness.
- Mix 1 liter of warm water with 1/3 teaspoon of either mild dish soap or mild detergent.
- Shake vigorously to mix, place 1 teaspoon of neem oil in the solution, and shake once more.
- Pour the solution into a spray bottle and try a test area in your garden.
- If your plants haven't responded adversely to the spray after 24 hours, apply it where needed once a week.
To minimize harm to bees and other beneficial insects, apply during early morning, late evening, or at night or only to plants that aren't in bloom. Avoid using neem oil spray in direct sunlight, on a windy day, or in extreme heat or cold and wash any exposed fruits or vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
Make a Spicy Pepper Spray
Iguanas do not like the scent of hot peppers, so a spray made from pepper sauce may be useful as a deterrent:
- Add 2 tablespoons of pepper sauce, such as Tabasco, to a spray bottle.
- Fill the bottle with water and shake to mix thoroughly.
- Spray near plants that iguanas are snacking on.
Use caution when applying this spray as pepper sauce can irritate your eyes if it should come in contact with them. Pepper spray can also be detrimental to bees, so apply it only to nonflowering plants or during late evening or early morning hours when bees generally aren't foraging.
Try Crushed Eggshells
This simple hack may help keep iguanas at bay: Crush up eggshells into medium-sized pieces and sprinkle them around areas of your yard where iguanas congregate. You can place them next to or around any plants in your garden that iguanas are eating. The iguanas may get a sense that the eggs are from predatory birds and leave.
Leave It to Lemongrass
Iguanas do not like the taste or smell of citrus, so try planting some lemongrass in your garden or yard to help keep iguanas away. You can plant lemongrass near other plants that you want to protect. As an added bonus, lemongrass will fill your yard with its inviting and refreshing scent.
The use of homemade sprays, crushed eggshells, and lemongrass plants as iguana repellents isn't supported by scientific research, but these remedies may be helpful if used as part of a multipronged strategy for managing these pests.
- Reynolds Pest Management: How to Get Rid of Iguanas Without Hurting Them
- Clean Air Gardening: How to Make Neem Oil Spray for Plants
- Texas Invasive Species Institute: Green Iguana
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: Green Iguana
- San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance: Iguana
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Keep Out: How to Stop Iguanas From Invading Your Yard
- HowStuffWorks: South Florida Is Overrun With Green Iguanas
- Tampa Bay Times: Florida’s Invasive Iguana Population Is Booming. And That’s a Problem.
- University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Outreach: Dealing With Iguanas in the South Florida Landscape
- National Pesticide Information Center: Neem Oil
- How I Get Rid Of: Best Lizard Repellent
- Simplemost: 8 Ways To Use Tabasco You Probably Haven’t Tried Yet
- Michigan State University: Bee Aware
- Michigan State University: Minimizing Pesticide Exposure to Pollinators