Daylilies forum: Help! Advice needed ...

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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jun 10, 2015 8:19 AM CST
I posted this originally in the Hybridizer Questions thread, but decided to post it in it's own thread hoping to better solicit advice....

HELP! I have a serious issue and need advice pronto ....

I had been noticing some of my scapes with pods were bent down and some of the pods were chewed. I see those large grasshoppers sometimes on the pods and assumed it was the grasshoppers so I have been removing any I find. Well, it turns out that it is NOT the grasshoppers but something worse. I am quite sure it is at least one rat, probably more. I had no idea they would eat the seed pods on my daylilies. I covered one of my prized daylily pods yesterday with those small sheer fabric baggies to protect the pods. Well, it was gone along with the enclosed pods this morning!

I have a pretty lush garden all around my backyard because I garden for Butterflies and Hummingbirds. I started checking all over the place to see where the fabric baggie may have wound up. I had my suspicions and was right, though I did not find the baggie w/pods, but I did find a stash of seed pods much to my utter dismay! I had no idea I was missing that many pods. (Given the large number currently on most all my daylilies, it is hard to keep track ... it was my prized pods that alerted me that something was wrong.) I found a stash of seed pods and paper clips underneath some Caldiums in the corner of my garden right next to my screen porch. And in the process, I also found a hole chewed in my screening that is large enough for a rat to get through to my porch. Grrrrr!!!!

HELP! I need advice pronto ....

What can I do to save my existing seed pods? Can I cut the scapes and place them in water and place the vase in a safe place (that the rats can't get to) until the pods ripen and I can collect all the seeds? I am going to try to find the rat's nest. I have a gut feeling where such a nest might be. I will also be checking around on my screen porch for any hiding places that the rat(s) might be using and replacing the screen soon. Time is a factor for me at this point because I start back to work next week. (sigh) But my first priority is to try to save the current seed pods on my daylily scapes.

This is what I found under the caldiums:

Thumb of 2015-06-10/beckygardener/3dce47

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Vegetable Grower Daylilies Hummingbirder Heucheras
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Hemlady
Jun 10, 2015 8:41 AM CST
Oh geeze Becky, that's awful. I never knew that rats would do that. Our city is over run with rats and we get them too. They actually have dug big holes in my garden and the holes a lot of times go under the daylily plant. We usually put poison as deep in the hole as we can so no other animals get it. On occasion my DH will get his pellet gun out and hunt them, lol. It makes sense now when I think of it though because we have seen them underneath our bird feeder getting the fallen seed. So I guess they would eat daylily seeds then. Maybe if you didn't want to kill them your city may have traps that they could loan out to you to trap them.
Lighthouse Gardens
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 10, 2015 8:57 AM CST
You can buy large rat traps. Just like a mouse trap but larger. I would bait it and set it INside your porch area. Right where the rat has been. Keep in mind that you could have something else. Have you seen droppings? It could be a chipmunk? This is where the term Pack Rat comes from. They like to collect things. objects, which I would guess they have no use for-like paperclips.
I think your only option is to keep them in water for now and hope they continue to mature. The only other thing you can do is clean it all up, throw it all out, order ya some seeds from someone else and sit down with a tea. Sticking tongue out
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jun 10, 2015 9:02 AM CST
Cindy - Thanks for your post. I've tried trapping in the past. They are very smart rats. I have a bird feeder, but have a tarp under it to catch all the fallen seeds which I remove at the end of the day. So they don't have access to bird seeds at night. Which might be why they are going after the daylily pods. The reason they are in my yard is because I have a privacy vinyl fence that keeps most of their predators out, so they are safe inside my backyard. I also think the reason that they are getting onto my screen porch is because I have a worm bin on the porch and they can smell the waste I feed the worms as well as the fact that rats will eat worms, too!

I have had issues with rats off and on in the past. Usually if I find and destroy their nest, they will leave. But they always come back into my backyard because it is safer than living outside my backyard fence. We have several predators here such as owls, bobcats, foxes, snakes, etc. but it is harder for them to find or get to the rats in my fenced backyard.

Rats are resourceful. They look for safe places to live to survive. Once they have babies ....OH! MY! They can multiply like crazy. So finding the nest is priority one for me right now. I have a pretty good idea that the nest is where it often is. Not an easy place for me to get to either. Under a very heavy waterfall fountain that I can not lift by myself. I also will guess that some non-poisonous snakes are living with them and eating the babies one by one. But rats WILL attack snakes, so snakes don't entirely take care of my problem. There is too much cover in my yard for the rats to hide from owls. And foxes and bobcats have a hard time getting into my backyard. (sigh) This may sound crazy, but I wished I had a lot more snakes in my yard. Snakes (non-poisonous ones) do not bother me. But there just aren't enough snakes in my yard nor are they big enough to actually eat the adult rats. I guess I need a python or something to rid my yard of this problem. Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious!

Crazy problem, huh? That's one of the downsides to having a wildlife habitat on one's property. Though I have no intention of removing my habitat. Instead, I just have to become the rat's biggest and most dangerous predator and find the nest and destroy it. And try to run them out of my yard once again.

But my real question is this ....

Can I cut the scapes with pods and put them in water until the pods/seeds ripen?????
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Vegetable Grower Daylilies Hummingbirder Heucheras
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Hemlady
Jun 10, 2015 9:10 AM CST
I have cut scapes before and put them in water and they did mature. I would try it.

I understand your problem because my yard is the same way, a haven for animals but I mainly get everyone in the neighborhoods cat here. I have catnip growing and they all visit it on a daily basis. There is so many daylilies and flowers in my yard that it provides a cover for a lot of animals. A couple of years ago I heard something running under cover in my daylilies and thought it was a rabbit. Turns out it was a rat, and I was actually trying to follow the darn thing to get a glimpse of what I thought was a baby bunny, lol.
Lighthouse Gardens
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jun 10, 2015 9:10 AM CST
FrillyLily - I've had no luck with rat traps. None. I may call my exterminator to see what they can do. (But they are quick to use poisons, unfortunately, so I am hesitant to call them). I don't want to poison them because then the predators such as owls, foxes, bobcats might be able to catch a sick rat and eat it and become poisoned also in the process. I need to get them out of my backyard so their natural predators have access to them. Never a dull moment when it comes to co-habitating with wildlife. (sigh)
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Vegetable Grower Daylilies Hummingbirder Heucheras
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Hemlady
Jun 10, 2015 9:13 AM CST
They certainly can be destructive. They chewed a hole in our small garage door and got in there and we put poison in there. They can die in the garage and there won't be the chance of other animals eating them.
Lighthouse Gardens
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jun 10, 2015 9:23 AM CST
Poison is the last resort. If they get into an area that is hard to access, the smell from a decaying dead rat is not something I want to deal with. I REALLY DO NOT want to go the poison route at all. Nadda.

I need to run them out of my yard again. I've been able to do that in the past. Perhaps I can do it once again. My backyard is such a great place for them to hide and live, much to my dismay. I also get other wildlife such as possums, raccoons, rabbits, turtles, armadillos, etc. You name it, if it's FL wildlife, I can get it in my yard! LOL! Most of the time none of these critters bother me. Just the rats. I haven't had the problem for a couple of years and now they are back again. Grrrr .... it's something that I am doing which brings them back. Most likely the worm bin, the bird feeder, and the water sources. They can smell food and water for quite a distance. I have undeveloped lots around me, so they live in the wooded areas around my yard.

We also had feral cats wandering around for the past couple of years, but those were trapped and removed by neighbors a few streets over. I think those very cats were keeping the rat population down. Now the cats are gone, so the rats are having a field day ... and unfortunately some are coming into my yard. (double sigh)

This is so frustrating!!!!

I will try cutting all my daylily scapes and placing in water. Hunt down the rat's nest, run them off, and try to discourage them from coming into my yard, and repair my screen. If I wasn't working this summer, it wouldn't be such a challenge. Never a dull moment here .... Sticking tongue out
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 10, 2015 9:41 AM CST
get a rat terrier nodding
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Jun 10, 2015 9:44 AM CST
Yeah. Right. I wish. But then you have the problem of the dog running through your garden beds and destroying the entire plants! It's a challenge to find an acceptable balance for all .... human and wildlife. The pursuit of solutions to ever constant problems when it comes to gardening. I will say one thing .... gardening is FAR from boring!!! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Vegetable Grower Daylilies Hummingbirder Heucheras
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Hemlady
Jun 10, 2015 10:32 AM CST
Poison is our only option here other than trapping them. We really don't have any owls around. About the only animals that may feed on a dead rat carcus would be possums or cats. I sure wouldn't want to harm any cats though. I don't mind the neighborhood cats visiting, especially since I had to have mine put down in March.
Lighthouse Gardens
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Jun 10, 2015 12:43 PM CST
How are they bending the scapes down to get the pods? If they're climbing up the scapes then Vaseline smeared around the scapes might work, they'd hopefully slip back down again or else not like getting gooey paws. I'm not sure how high they can jump, I've seen chipmunks jump up and grab a shasta daisy flower, but don't know if rats do that.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Jun 10, 2015 12:52 PM CST
I fear the possible consequences of poison onto other wildlife from rats, so I have no desire to use poison. I try to be an organic gardener so poison is something I try my best to stay away from. So it's really not an option for me.

I suspected that the rat(s) eating my seed pods were a mother rat probably nursing her babies and had dug a nest under my birdbath fountain. I've been there, done this before. So my husband and I removed each piece of the heavy concrete birdbath water fountain. THAT is a chore as the 3 pieces are very heavy even with two of us moving them. Thought I would share some photos of what I did and what I found:

1) Removing birdbath fountain pieces:

Thumb of 2015-06-10/beckygardener/b54101

2) Here you can see the pavers that the birdbath was sitting on. Notice that they are leaning inward. That's a good indication that something had dug the dirt and rocks out from underneath it!

Thumb of 2015-06-10/beckygardener/f29a32

3) Move the pavers away and this is what I found:

Thumb of 2015-06-10/beckygardener/41a2d9

4) In total, there were 6 baby rats. I managed to capture 4 of them (some without their eyes open yet), while two got away. I put them in this bucket. I then dumped them outside my fence near an opening that the mother rat could get through. I am hoping that as they get hungry that they will start crying, so that the mother rat will hear them and find them. If she finds them outside the fence, she will possibly find a new nest out in the wooded area. HOPEFULLY! If not, the babies will die or be eaten by tonight's predators. Cycle of life. Rats are one wildlife critter I just can't tolerate. They wreck havoc around your home. So even though I won't kill them, I will release them in an area where they can scurry away or be eaten by other predators:

Thumb of 2015-06-10/beckygardener/eabfbe

5) I filled the nest in and stacked the pavers. I am going to try using 24" heavy pavers stacked 3 high as a base for my fountain. The deeper the concrete, the less likely the rats will dig under them. (Or so I hope!):

Thumb of 2015-06-10/beckygardener/c003e6
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
[Last edited by beckygardener - Jun 10, 2015 12:54 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #875451 (13)
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jun 10, 2015 1:00 PM CST
I managed to use painter's blue tape around the scapes in the closest garden bed that I was noticing missing pods. Unfortunately, it has started storming here, so I am unable to cut all those scapes yet to add to a vase of water to ripen. I will do that if this storm stops today or tonight. It is pouring down rain with lightning, so I am not going to attempt collecting the pods until the rain subsides.

Here is my 3-tiered daylily bed:

Thumb of 2015-06-10/beckygardener/d9dffd

This is a close-up of the blue "flags" on each scape with the code for the plant:

Thumb of 2015-06-10/beckygardener/898766

Typically, a mother rat will panic and come back later to look for her babies. Hopefully she will find the 2 escapees and move them somewhere else. (Hopefully NOT elsewhere in my backyard!) And I sure hope she finds the others and just moves them all outside my backyard fence.

When I was cleaning out the nest, I found more pods (some still had seeds inside) and paper clips. The paper clips were still attached to the pods. So I collected those seeds and will label all of them as "unknown" seeds. I kept seeds from each pod together and will grow out a couple of each to determine what plant it may have come from. Or at least figure a possibility. But they will just be unknown parentage seedlings. I never did find the nylon bag. Which makes me wonder if there is more than 1 mother rat somewhere in my yard with more babies. (sigh)
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
[Last edited by beckygardener - Jun 10, 2015 1:03 PM (+)]
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Name: Debra
Nashville, TN (Zone 7a)
Daylilies Cat Lover Butterflies Region: Tennessee Seed Starter
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shive1
Jun 10, 2015 1:06 PM CST
Yikes!!! My sympathy to you. I just could not deal with losing my seed pods like that, or finding a nest of baby rats. I had rats that dug burrows under my trash can in past years. Luckily having three and a half outdoor cats took care of that problem.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 10, 2015 1:23 PM CST
sprinkle some ground red peppers around the area, or make a liquid with habaneros in your blender !
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Vegetable Grower Daylilies Hummingbirder Heucheras
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Hemlady
Jun 10, 2015 1:28 PM CST
I would not have been that sympathetic toward baby rats I'm afraid. I have heard that where you see one rat there could be up to 50. They breed constantly.
Lighthouse Gardens
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jun 10, 2015 2:07 PM CST
I would have chopped their little heads of with the shrub pruners/loppers. It is very fast and they don't suffer. I do think they are cute myself. But I would not want them tearing up my stuff or IN my house !

Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Jun 10, 2015 4:40 PM CST
No, I don't want "killing" on my conscience (except for carpenter & fire ants, roaches, and termites). I prefer to respect nature, even the things I don't like because I know they were here first and have just as much a right to live as I do. I am concerned though that I did not find the nylon fabric bag. I am really hoping there was just the one nest in my yard and not another somewhere else. Believe me! I will be checking around my entire backyard now. There are only so many places they can hide.

I did finally go out between rain squalls and cut many of my daylily seed pod scapes. Boy! Is this a bummer! Below is a photo of my pod bouquets. I am hoping that the larger, maturing pods/seeds do ripen and produce viable seeds. I suspect that they probably will. But the smaller ones ... probably not. Fortunately, most are mature seed pods. We shall see ...

Thumb of 2015-06-10/beckygardener/4d2ead
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Jun 10, 2015 5:28 PM CST
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and support.

Sue - These are not tiny mice but larger rats. They literally stand up on their hind legs and pull the scapes down with their front paws to reach the seed pods (that's my guess). No climbing. When they are hungry they will do whatever they have to, to survive.

Cindy - So sorry to hear you recently lost your cat. I know about having to put down a beloved pet. It's heartbreaking. Group hug

Thanks to the rest of you. I hope no one else here ever has to deal with this problem. I gotta say ... if something can happen, it WILL happen to me! I am the queen of challenges ... Angry Sticking tongue out Thumbs down
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
[Last edited by beckygardener - Jun 10, 2015 5:28 PM (+)]
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