Ducks are charming little waterfowl that people might not immediately think of as pests. But anyone with a pool in their backyard or a garden full of crops knows that they can be a huge hassle, swimming around in the water dropping feces everywhere, or munching on your fresh herbs.
These waterfowl may look adorable and harmless, but they can disrupt your home if they want to. Luckily, there are many ways to keep them out, like taking away food sources from your yard or creating the illusion of a predator in the area.
But one of the best ways to deter them is with strong scents. Luckily, the scents that will deter ducks from entering your property aren’t toxic or unsafe for birds or humans. On the contrary, you might even like some of them.
So, what smell do ducks hate? Keep reading to learn more about scents that keep ducks away.
How Strong Are Ducks’ Sense of Smell?
Ducks are semi-aquatic birds, which means a huge chunk of their time is spent near bodies of water. They use their sense of smell not just for hunting for food on land, but also sniffing out algae and other treats in water, like algae.
The thing is, this bird’s sense of smell isn’t particularly strong. If anything, their olfactory glands aren’t as developed as those of human beings and other mammals. All they use their sense of smell for is food anyway.
Because ducks aren’t that sensitive to smells, you have to work twice as hard to deter ducks with scents. The scents you choose need to be incredibly strong and distracting to the point that even ducks with weak olfactory glands will hate them. You also need to use them in bigger quantities.
Aside from being overpowering, strong scents also mask the smell of food. Some ducks lurk in people’s homes because there are food sources around. Strong scents from food and oils hide the appetizing smell of food, forcing them to look for another place to find a snack.
8 Strong Scents That Will Keep Ducks Away
If you want to use scents that will drive ducks out of your property, make sure to use ones that are safe and won’t cause harm, especially to humans. You don’t have to bring out dangerously toxic chemicals like bleach and ammonia just to deter ducks.
In fact, you can easily add a strong scent to your yard or pool with plants and foods that you likely already have stocked up in your kitchen.
Here are eight different scents that are strong enough to repel ducks from hanging out on your property:
1. Peppermint oil
Menthol is probably one of the strongest scents out there. While many people find its cool, refreshing, crisp odor relaxing and calming, ducks won’t like how strong it is. If you have a bottle of peppermint oil at home, it can be your secret to getting rid of ducks once and for all.
Soak some cotton balls in peppermint oil and scatter them throughout your pool area or yard. You can also use a store-bought peppermint oil spray to spread the scent everywhere. Not only will this deter ducks from coming close, but it will also drive out other small animals, like rats and raccoons.
2. Crushed garlic
Garlic is another overwhelming scent that ducks don’t like. Not only is the odor strong, but it’s pungent too. The very unique, distracting scent of garlic comes from the volatile organic sulfur-containing compounds that it releases into the air when it’s chopped up.
To use garlic to keep ducks away, crush them or chop them up and put them in small bowls. Place the bowls in strategic areas where ducks are likely to enter your property. Just remember to put them away once they start to go bad, or else you may attract other animals to eat them.
3. Lemon oil (or the oil or juice of any citrus fruit)
Lemon is an awesome smell in your home and kitchen if you want your space to smell extra fresh. However, it’s a scent that ducks don’t like because it’s so powerful, just like any other citrus fruit.
Add a sweet, refreshing smell to your garden while simultaneously keeping ducks away by spraying lemon all over the area. Dilute lemon oil or lemon juice in some water and put the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray in the areas ducks like to stay in the most.
You can also do this with other citrus fruits, like limes and grapefruits.
Because cinnamon has a spicy and bold aroma, it’s fantastic at hiding the scent of food. Sprinkle some cinnamon powder around your lawn or cut up some cinnamon sticks and scatter it in the garden to keep ducks from entering it.
Citronella oil is a popular deterrent for mosquitoes and other insects. But did you know that it works great as a bird repellent too? Its powerful aroma pushes ducks to look for food elsewhere, leaving your property safe and untouched.
6. White vinegar
Even humans hate the smell of vinegar—that’s how powerful it is. Make the most out of the vinegar you have at home by pouring it into small bowls and placing them in your yard. You can also dilute it in water and spray it all over the place. This is super effective at deterring ducks and other pests.
7. Cayenne pepper
Aside from minty and fruity smells, ducks may also be deterred by hot and spicy scents. Grab your cayenne pepper and grind them in your garden, sprinkling each area with pepper as you go. This is also a great way to deter other trespassers, such as cats and rodents.
8. Chili peppers
Another option for deterring ducks with spicy scents is using chili peppers. You can either hang up some chili peppers in your garden or chop them up and scatter them on the ground. You can also opt for chili powder instead, which you can simply sprinkle anywhere ducks like to go in your yard.
Other Tips to Deter Ducks from Entering Your Pool or Garden
Sometimes, ducks may get desensitized to you using the same scents over and over. They may end up still coming into your home, no matter how much vinegar or peppermint oil you spray in your yard or pool area.
If you need a plan B to deter ducks from hanging out and wreaking havoc in your garden, we’ve got you. Here are other options for keeping ducks away:
- Netting: By creating a physical barrier between the ducks and your garden or pool, they’ll have no way of making a mess there. Cover up the areas you want to protect with some netting or a fence so that no duck can enter them.
- Wind chimes: Like many birds, ducks are sensitive to noise and sounds—especially high-pitched ones. Wind chimes are very distracting and might also signal to ducks that there is a threat in the area. They may help keep ducks out while making your garden more zen.
- Decoys of birds of prey: Ducks can also be deterred by decoys of larger birds that might attack them, like a hawk or an owl. These visual deterrents might frighten the ducks and keep them from coming too close. You can use plastic owls or bird figurines for this.
- Motion-activated sprinkler: Although ducks are semi-aquatic and love bodies of water like ponds and pools, they will still feel threatened by unexpected bursts of water. Invest in a motion-activated sprinkler that can detect a duck’s motion and startle it with water.
- Automatic pool cleaner: When this device is turned on, it sends ripples and vibrations throughout the water. If ducks are swimming in your pool, they might interpret these vibrations as a predator waiting to attack. Hopefully, it drives them out of your pool.
You can also get creative and scatter items that ducks will hate around your pool. Check out this video of a pool owner “decorating” his pool area with rubber snakes and fishing lines to deter ducks:
With a quick spray of an essential oil blend or chopped peppers and garlic, you can easily deter ducks from coming near your home. Whether you go for peppermint, cayenne pepper, vinegar, and anything in between, these strong smells will get rid of ducks fast.
While some scents listed above don’t necessarily scare ducks away, they mask the smell of food. As a result, the ducks are discouraged to stay on your property.
And if the ducks that trespass on your property are somehow immune to these scents, try other duck deterrents, like wind chimes and automatic pool cleaners. Hopefully, with a dash of creativity and diligence, you can keep ducks out of your home moving forward.