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Tactics to fight iguana invasion

Can you legally kill iguanas invading your property? How can you discourage them from moving in, especially if you live near water?

Here’s advice from Lake Worth Drainage District.

Q: Does LWDD provide eradication services for iguana infestations?

A: LWDD is a single-purpose, special district with the authority to provide flood control and water supply to the residents within its boundary. Tax assessments are collected for the maintenance and operation of these facilities. Iguanas do not interfere with LWDD’s flood control operations; therefore, LWDD does not provide iguana eradication services.

Q: What might be attracting the iguanas to my property?

A: Typically, iguanas will use an area for foraging or nesting. To prevent iguanas from entering your property, consider what might be attracting them. Never feed iguanas intentionally or unintentionally. Food left outdoors will attract iguanas. Cut fruit and outside pet food will attract iguanas and other unwanted visitors like rats and raccoons.

Q: How can I prevent the iguanas from nesting?

A: Remove protective covers, including dense thickets, brush or rock piles where iguanas congregate. Fill vacant iguana burrows with sand during the day. Make certain the animals are outside the burrow first. Some property owners have constructed artificial nesting habitats to attract iguanas. The purpose of this approach is to control reproduction. Iguanas lay their eggs in sand or mulch. By adding mulch piles or sand piles near sea walls, you can encourage iguanas to nest in controlled structures. Once eggs are deposited, they can be easily removed and disposed of in a sealed plastic bag.

Q: What type of landscape material can I plant to deter iguanas?

A: Iguanas prefer to eat popular landscaping material, such as hibiscus, orchids, roses, nasturtiums, impatiens and purple heart plant. Iguanas prefer bright red, orange or yellow flowers and fruits and feed on tender leaves. Instead, plant species that are iguana-resistant, such as milkweed, pentas and citrus. Generally, plants with thick, tough or waxy leaves are less palatable and often difficult to digest. If the food source is removed, iguanas will be less likely to inhabit an area.

Q: What types of exclusion techniques can I use?

A: Consider protecting valuable plants with cages or screen enclosures. Iguanas are excellent climbers. They may get into and on dwellings via overhanging trees. Trim overhanging branches to remove the unintentional “bridge” to buildings. Sheet metal guards on trees, palms, and dock pilings can prevent them from climbing.

Wire barriers can prevent digging on your property. In areas where iguanas burrow or dig, consider installing chicken wire fencing. This fencing should be buried several inches underground or the iguanas may dig underneath the fence.

Photo credit Lacey Lin Photography

Q: What types of deterrent techniques can I use?

A: Property owners can surprise iguanas by spraying them with a water hose until they leave the area. You can also make loud noises to startle iguanas and create an unwelcome atmosphere. Other techniques include hanging CD-ROM discs near sea walls or on trees or plants you want to protect. You will need to change the position of CDs weekly, so the iguanas do not become accustomed to their light reflections.

Q: Is there an iguana repellent I can use?

A: While not proven, some property owners have experienced success with iguana repellents. A homemade spray repellent can be made using garlic, lime juice, habanero pepper, and dish soap. Iguanas loathe the smell of these ingredients and, for the most part, try to avoid the areas. Using iguana repellents requires the need to redo the application each time it rains as the repellent will be washed away.

Q: Where can I get professional help?

A: Residents are encouraged to seek professionals to remove iguanas from their property. Property owners can search the internet or phone book to locate wildlife control companies. Costs vary, depending on the extent of iguana infestation and the species. Be sure to get a written quote from several service providers before contracting with a provider.

Q: Can I kill the iguanas on my property?

A: Iguanas and all other wildlife are protected by anticruelty laws. Inhumane treatment is prohibited and punishable by state law. Inhumane treatment includes the use of poisons to kill iguanas or any other reptile in Florida.

Property owners can kill iguanas safely and humanely by stabbing or shooting directly in the brain or decapitating them without having them suffer. However, it is strongly recommended homeowners contact their local sheriff’s office to inquire about local firearm ordinances before discharging any firearms.

Q: Can a property owner or a professional service provider enter LWDD’s canal right-of-way to trap or provide iguana eradication services?

A: Prior to working on LWDD’s right-of-way authorization is required. Property owners and/or professional service providers should contact LWDD for authorization at 561-498-5363 or info@lwdd.net.

Q: Where can I find more information on iguana control?

A: Visit Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at  https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/reptiles/green-iguana/ or https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/reptiles/iguanas-and-relatives/black-spinytail-iguana/

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