Since their introduction as exotic pets in the 1960s, iguanas have become a major nuisance in South Florida. Iguanas love leafy tropical plants, fruits, and vegetables. This leaves homeowners with destroyed flower beds and half-eaten fruits to show for their hours of labor in the yard. In exchange, iguanas leave behind their droppings, creating an unsanitary mess in your yard or on your car. Additionally, iguanas are detrimental to native wildlife populations, inhabiting the nests of the Florida Burrowing Owl and eating host plants for the critically endangered Miami blue butterfly.
Because of their destructive effect on our landscapes and wildlife, iguanas are now prohibited in Florida. It is illegal to sell, release, or relocate them, so Florida landowners have to find ways to remove iguanas in a legal and humane manner. There are several methods of driving iguanas away from your property, but finding an effective, long-term solution can be difficult. Companies offer “iguana repellent” granules and sprays, but these are ultimately ineffective, and chemical treatments may actually be harmful to your family or yard. Natural treatments containing ingredients such as garlic or hot peppers may work in the short term but are easily washed off, requiring repeat applications. The best iguana repellents are ones that either chase the iguanas away or prevent them from entering your property in the first place.
If You See an Iguana in Your Yard
Do not approach iguanas or attempt to catch them by hand – especially the big ones. Iguanas can carry salmonella, an infectious bacteria transferable to humans. Iguanas use their tails as whips that can leave painful welts, and bites can become infected. Therefore, any tactic used to chase an iguana off should be done from a distance. If you see an iguana in your yard, you can blast it with a water hose, scaring it away. Other deterrents include motion-sensitive sprinklers or aluminum pans tied to plants, trees, and boats.
However, these are only short-term solutions. First, you need to have a hose ready to give iguanas a good squirt, and they can become accustomed to the sprinklers. Eventually, you will need more persuasive methods.
Remove Iguana-Friendly Features from Your Yard
A more effective repellent is to simply remove or cover landscaping features that iguanas find attractive. Clear out any underbrush that iguanas can hide in, fill in burrows with rocks or gravel, and trim tree branches that hang over your roof. Replace your hibiscus and impatiens with tough-leaved plants like purple queen and milkweed, and plant silver buttonwoods and citrus trees instead of mangos or Hong Kong orchids. If your trees are well established and cannot be removed easily, then install metal tree wraps to prevent iguanas from climbing.
Hire a Professional Iguana Removal Service
The most effective iguana repellent is a multi-system approach, which can be developed in consultation with a professional iguana removal service. Companies specializing in iguana control in Miami will send licensed professionals to evaluate your property, identifying features that may attract iguanas and searching for indicators of iguana burrows. They will then develop a humane removal and deterrence plan tailored to your needs. Some companies also offer maintenance plans for continued protection. If you are battling iguanas on your property, contact a licensed professional for help.