Iguanas are splendid-looking creatures but can be menaces to landscape plants, shrubs, and trees. Probably introduced as pets to the area, iguanas have now considered an invasive species. They are not usually aggressive but defend themselves against pets or people if cornered. They have powerful tails and can scratch and bite.
Iguanas are mostly herbivorous, and the prettier the flower, the better as far as they are concerned. Prize roses and orchids attract iguanas and make delicious snacks. Digging and living in burrows can cause dangerous damage to buildings by sea walls, increasing the risk of erosion and eventual collapse.
While beautiful, iguanas have become a nuisance in some areas, decimating gardens and flower beds and leaving delightful trails of feces along the side of pools. The problem is that they are super quick and covered in tough, scaly skin, so if they decide to whip you with their massive tails or bit you, you will come off worst.
Iguanas are difficult to catch and are protected by anti cruelty laws, which means that once they are in, they are very hard to get rid of, and they very quickly show you who is boss in your backyard.
Myths About How To Repel Iguanas
If you have an iguana problem, do not be misled by the idea that you can humanely trap them. There are some traps that can do this, but since many states have laws about releasing, selling, or transferring iguanas, you are essentially stuck with an angry iguana in a cage. There are humane ways to kill iguanas, but it is best left to pest control experts.
What are the Best Ways to Control Iguana Populations in Your Garden?
The plan is to make the garden inhospitable for them.
Iguanas are burrowing creatures. They nest, breed, and travel through underground tunnels. Fill any iguana burrows they have made with rocks and trim bushes, so you take away their shelters. Look for areas that iguanas may find attractive and take steps to change that.
They love to climb trees to munch on the leaves. Prevent iguanas from climbing trees by installing sheet-metal cylinders about 18 inches from the base of the trees. Create L-shaped wire barriers along the bottom of seawalls or other fixed objects to stop them from digging underneath.
Iguanas like basking in the sun, on pool decks and boats. Keep a water hose handy to spray them off, and think about things that could make clattering noises to disturb their sunbathing. Windchimes and deer scarers startle them, and they hang old CDs to reflect light and disorient them.
Also Read: Insect Repellent Essential Oils
What Plants Repel Iguanas?
Iguanas have strong senses of smell which they use to find food sources. Although they sometimes eat insects, they are mostly sussing out your leaves for their dinner menu. They like to hang out in hidden spaces or thickly planted shrub beds. Trimming bushes and pruning trees will make it less attractive for them to hang out in.
Iguanas are attracted to flowers and fruit trees, although they dislike citrus fruits intensely, so these can be a great choice to plant. Their favorites are roses and orchids. Hibiscus, impatiens, and melons are like salad crops with tender leaves. Planting leaves that are too heavy to chew can be helpful too.
Weaponize leafy greens in your veggie patch... Spinach, beets, carrots, Swiss chard, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and turnips are all toxic to reptiles, and they seem to sense that. These can make great iguana repellents, especially if you plant them in borders around tender crops like lettuces.
Plant citrus fruit trees, oleanders, milkweed, pigeon plum, and coonties through your landscape to deter them. These are all plants that repel iguanas.
What Scent Repels Iguanas?
Iguanas have a keen sense of smell. As stated, they don't like citruses. In addition, they are discouraged by garlic and habanero peppers.
Scent can be one of the best iguana repellents, and essential oils can be very helpful for this.
Essential oils are made from the concentrated essences of plants. The proper name for the plant's chemicals is "Secondary metabolites." This refers to the fact that they are not required for their primary function of respiration or to exist and survive, but rather, the plant probably makes them not to survive but rather to respond to life challenges.
Consider that a plant is anchored to the spot by its roots. If the sun is fierce or there is a massive downpour, the plant cannot escape it. Likewise, if a curious iguana decides it would make for a great dinner, the plant has to take it. But it does have a defense in that it can make its leaves taste nasty.
Plants don't have sex as such. Essentially pollinating insects are their genitals (although some plants are wind-pollinated), so plants also emit pretty fragrances to try and seduce the bees. Often they can make a second set of chemicals that will help the plant recover after being overly nibbled.
Sitting very quietly, plants are their stationary weapons factories; what humans have appropriated as luxury perfumes are, in fact, natural pesticides. These natural ingredients are what animals have evolved to interact with.
Also Read: Does Peppermint Oil Repel Mice?
How Do The Best Iguana Repellent Essential Oils Work?
Iguanas belong to the same subspecies of reptiles as snakes, known as Squamates. Squamate creatures don't have separate senses of smell and taste. Their two senses combine into one. When they taste the air with their tongues, they pick up fragrance molecules, take them back into their mouth, and place them into holes in their head, called their Jacobson's Organ. This then translates from taste to smell. There is one hole on the left and one on the right. If the smell is stronger on the left, then they know which way they need to go to find your roses, for example.
Strong fragrances confuse that sense, obscuring the messages about where dinner is.
Now, it's easier to understand chemoreception in human terms than reptile ones. So if you imagine using peppermint toothpaste, your mouth is full of cold receptors that also interact with menthol. That's why menthol smells and tastes cold. (This doesn't make sense if you think about it, but it is true.) In the same way, we, and reptiles, can smell "hot."
Interestingly, they react the same way as we do to capsaicin in hot peppers and chili. We have that hot flush and start feeling jittery and sweaty. So do they. This can be a great way to drive iguanas away.
What's more, iguanas seem not to like certain fragrances like oregano, for example, and especially citrus smells, so again, lemongrass and citronella work in our favor here.
How Are Lemongrass Iguana Repellent Plants?
Lemongrass is especially fascinating when you think about it from a pest control perspective. We sell much lemongrass to beekeepers because it attracts swarms of bees. But lemongrass has very tasty leaves. When reptiles eat lemongrass, they can often decimate the plant to its roots, making fragrance lizards hate. The plant's future is ensured entirely by the way it uses fragrance to interact with the environment.
Citronella is a close cousin of lemongrass but unlike lemongrass. You can't eat it. So what's the point of growing it? It is a tremendous insect repellent, so it can usefully be grown between plants to deter pests. Funnily enough, iguanas think it's pretty vile, too, presumably because of its citrus notes.
We need to fully understand why they react to certain smells, just that they do. On the other hand, sometimes it's easy to explain, like in the case of cedarwood.
Cedarwood - A Natural Iguana Repellent
If you had a pet lizard and put cedarwood shavings into its cage, it wouldn't take long for it to start struggling to breathe or for lesions to start appearing on its scales. Cedar contains several problematic phenols for reptiles; in particular, thujone can cause seizures. Like humans, though, their intuition presumably gives them a subliminal warning as "that's not a nice smell…I don't want to be near that…" and they back off. It's been used in traditional medicines across Asia and Africa for hundreds of years, so we use cedarwood in our blends.
So, what we have here are natural deterrents. Not just made from natural ingredients but also in line with research that shows which things naturally deter them in the wild.
Does Garlic Repel Iguanas?
Difficult to say for certain if garlic is, in fact, a natural repellent for iguanas. Some people swear by it, but there is no scientific evidence to support or disprove it. It certainly can't hurt to try laying some garlic-repellent granules here and there.
Do Mothballs Repel Iguanas?
No, sadly, they don't. Indeed, they don't like the smell - let's be honest, who does - but the amounts needed are too great to be effective.
Does Neem Oil Repel Iguanas?
Yes, there is some evidence that Iguanas do not like the smell and taste of the smell. Neem is a good ingredient to put into an iguana repellent spray to create boundaries around your yard, your decking, and the poolside.
Does Bobcat Urine Repel Iguanas?
No bobcat urine is better for rats and mice.
Is Snake Repellent Bad for Iguanas?
No. It may be effective since they use similar ways of chemoreception.
The best iguana repellent is to make the garden as inhospitable as you can, then use iguana repellent spray to signal that they are not welcome in your garden. At Vinevida, we have combined the best iguana-repellent essential oils with a fixative to ensure it last longer to protect you from these invasive pests.