Armadillo Dilemma: To Kill or Not to Kill

Armadillo hide-out.
Armadillo hide-out.

So an armadillo moved into one of the ginseng nursery beds. It’s been a destructive force in the area since it arrived a couple of weeks ago.

What would you do? Kill the armadillo or let it live?

Why a dilemma to me?

First of all, I don’t like to kill anything unless we’re going to eat it. I’m not going to eat an armadillo.

But the armadillo is causing havoc. Wild Ozark grows wild-simulated American ginseng, which is indistinguishable from wild except on a genetic level.

The critter isn’t eating the ginseng, but the earthworms that live in the ginseng patch.

If I let this go and allow Nature to determine what happens next, the armadillo will continue to tear up ginseng rootlets as it hunts earthworms at night.

Armadillos are not native here. Neither are the earthworms. Am I native here? At least on a human-level, I think I am.

There is evidence that humans lived here many thousands of years ago. Not so for the cute little leprosy-hosting armored bandits. They migrated up from Texas, along with their road-runner friends.

At least the earthworms are beneficial and don’t harm the plant that is the  basis of our livelihood.

But the armadillo is also eating grubs, which are the larva of an insect (Japanese beetle) that also isn’t native. And the grubs do eat the roots of plants possibly including the ginseng.

So it could be doing me a service even if it is very destructive in the process.

Don’t fear the Armadillo-Leprosy connection

As a side-note, there’s no need to worry about the leprosy unless you’re cuddling armadillos. You can’t catch the disease just by inhabiting the same piece of ground.

If you do tend to play with wild animals, however, I’d leave the armadillo off of your list of critters to cuddle. Just in case. At least leprosy can be treated nowadays.

But that’s about as comforting to me as knowing that I can get rabies shots if I’m bitten by a rabid animal.  I’d just rather not.

Armadillo Decision

If I kill the armadillo, then I have interfered with Nature, right? If I don’t kill it, maybe it’ll help cut down on the Japanese beetle problem.

If I let the it live, then it will likely produce offspring, if it hasn’t already. Then those in turn will turn up even more of the nursery beds.

Even if it eats every last one of the grubs it’ll never run out of earthworms to devour. The grubs aren’t so much of an issue in our woods. The earthworms are doing a helpful job.

I feel that I myself am a natural part of Nature, and therefore have a right to defend territory I’ve marked as “mine”.

I’ll tell this to the invader later today. Then it can either leave or stay and face the consequences.

First I’ll try the live trap and relocation. If that doesn’t work, it’ll be on the hit list.

 


First Hunt by Ima ErthwitchPredator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.

Nature Farming


Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


6 thoughts on “Armadillo Dilemma: To Kill or Not to Kill

  1. No need to kill the armadillo. If you apply some milky spore disease in the area all of the grubs will die and the armadillo will have to move on to find food.

  2. I believe we have a responsibility to help maintain the land we are responsible for. We don’t have problems pulling invasive weeds to protect natives, watering during hot spells or nourishing vegetable gardens. If we let ‘nature take its course’ in those areas we’d be living in thickets.

    I see no difference in dealing with invasive animals like squirrels, deer & armadillo. The #s will grow out of control without our intervention. That leads to overpopulation, then disease & destruction. And yes, if you don’t take care of the armadillo you have they will only grow worse. We used to never see them here 25 yrs ago & now they run rampant in the woods & farmland around us.

  3. The milky spore is specific to grubs, so no problem to the worms. When I used it in Louisiana it got rid of the grubs in the first summer and with them the armadillos. We still had plenty of worms so I guess the ‘possums on half-shells moved on to find more fat, juicy grubs.
    As far as armadillos being an invasive species, I have no issues with that. They were at one time common all the way into the Midwest, died off for some reason 11,000 years ago, and have been repopulating sine the middle of the 1800’s. They got here own, like the cattle egrets, so I feel they have as much right to the land as I do.
    They are beneficial in one sense, they eat the imported red fire ant. They can clean out a nest over night. Unfortunately they do leave a hole behind.

Info or feedback to share?