Swimming Pool Blog
Rob Cox, July 30, 2018
How to Keep Critters Out of Your Pool
Critters in the pool! Some people can't stand to see bugs, frogs, ducks or dogs in their pool, and almost everyone would swim faster at the sight of a snake swimming with them!
Fact is, bodies of water are a natural habitat for many animals. They prefer darker, more vegetated areas that provide some protection from predators, but your pretty blue pool will sometimes do the job.
This blog post will cover some of methods of discouraging certain animals and other pests from using your pool as their own private oasis.
I've heard that snakes prefer a black-bottomed pool (one that is painted or plastered black) to a traditional blue or white pool. This may be true, I'm not sure. Most snakes, except for aquatic snakes such as water moccasins, probably fall into the pool by accident. But they may have trouble getting out, unless you have an easy step or ramp for the serpents to slither up!
To prevent snakes from coming into the area, here are some old home remedies to scare snakes away from the pool.
- Sprinkle granular sulfur around the outside perimeter of the pool deck, or in the edging of planter beds. Snakes hate the smell, and it gives them a little "belly rash" when they crawl over it.
- Spread cloves or dried garlic around the perimeter of the pool deck, or edge of planter beds. Works on vampires, too!
- Plant mint leaves and lemongrass. Snakes don't like it!
Not surprisingly, frogs love water. So much so that a smart inventor created a product called Frog Log, which provides an exit ramp for frogs, toads, crickets and other such critters. Another product that helps in the same way is called the Critter Skimmer. The Critter Skimmer is a specially modified skimmer lid with a spiral ramp on the inside, which allows frogs and other small critters to climb up and out of the swirling skimmer. Whew!
I have heard of folks who catch the frogs in nets and jars, then they drive down to the river and release them.That's the more frog-friendly way to do it, I suppose. But if you're looking for a method to keep them out of the pool in the first place, try using a rubber snake. Frogs and snakes are not friends. If you place a few around the deck or in the pool, you can scare the frogs - and maybe Grandma, too!
Frogs also don't like high chlorine levels or low pH. I've heard that if you sprinkle DE filter powder along the outer deck edge or in the planters, it will deter the frogs from entering the pool area. If you see frog eggs floating in the pool, try to remove them with a small bucket or jar. A skimmer net will sometimes disperse the dozens of little black dots across the water.
Ducks are some of the messiest visitors to your pool, if you know what I mean. They drastically affect the pH level and increase chloramine production. Cute too look at, especially when the whole family moves in, but oh, what a mess! It's usually only temporary, and ducks move on, but sometimes they stay awhile.
If you post a few plastic owl sentries around, the ducks may avoid your house and setlle down on your neighbor's pool instead. A large barking dog will likely do the trick as well. One chemical product that has been around for several years is called "Duck Off". Funny name, I know. But it really works! Duck Off changes the surface tension on the water so that the ducks don't like it, but the effect is not noticeable by humans. Using an automatic pool cleaner or scary-looking pool floats, like a shark or alligator, will also deter ducks since these products resemble predators in the water. Some pool owners have also found that using a solar pool cover keeps the ducks from landing on the pool surface.
If your dog loves to jump in the pool, and you would rather he didn't, you might need to get creative. Some dogs love to go in the pool, and some dogs won't even go near the pool. Still others just like to chase the pool cleaner around, barking at it. If your dog is a swimmer, boost the chlorine level after use, and check the hair lint basket for dog hair.
If you worry about an older dog - or even a younger dog - falling in the pool and not being able to get back out, check out these pet pool safety ramps. If your pool has no "wedding cake" style steps or swimout, a dog that falls (or jumps) in the pool could tire out, panic and drown. Skamper Ramp and Doggy Docks were made specifically for this very purpose. These are also helpful for cats, racoons or other small animals that may fall into the pool.
The Safety Turtle is another safety device that can be used for pets. It clips to a dog collar and sounds an alarm when the device is submerged. Safety Turtle is mainly used as a wristwatch for children around pools, but it works well for dogs around pools or lakes, or on the boat, to prevent "dog overboard" situations.
Whether you're in the water or lounging nearby, bugs can be a big nuisance around swimming pools. Thankfully, there are several methods that can be used to keep the bugs away from your pool. One way to help with mosquito problems is to keep the water circulating so the water doesn't become stagnant. Keeping a cover on the pool while it's not in use will also drastically reduce the amount of bugs residing in your pool. Keeping the pool area clear of overgrowth, regularly cleaning the pool and using bug zappers, traps or repellent candles can also help control a bug problem.
If you continue to see bugs floating on the surface of the pool, you might need to alter the surface tension of the water. This is something that you won't notice while swimming, but it prevents bugs from being able to float, and they'll sink to the bottom of the pool to be filtered out. There are a couple of products on the market that will accomplish this (Bug Off by Lo-Chlor, or GLB Bug Out). Or, if you'd prefer, you can also make a homemade version to spray on the water:
- Dilute 3 tbsp liquid dish soap into 16-32 oz. of water, and put it in a spray bottle.
- Shake the bottle to mix it. It should only be slightly foamy on top, and the liquid should be clear.
- Spray groups of bugs you're able to get to, then spray the water around the perimeter of the pool. To prevent foamy water or soapy residue, not use more than 1 bottle of the solution at a time!
- The bugs will eventually drown, and can be removed with a skimmer, pool cleaner or by the pool filter.
Now you know a bit more about critters in your pool. If you have stories of battles with creatures of the backyard, fill in a comment below!