Lizards are the most abundant reptiles, with 3,000 species worldwide. They feed on insects and are harmless to humans, but can attract snakes and nibble on plants in the garden. Some folk tales say that substances like kerosene, sulfur, mothballs or lime can repel lizards, but the only truly effective repellent is to make your garden less attractive to these reptilian visitors.
Lizards and Their Habits
Some lizards eat plants, but they do very little damage to them. Their preferred food are common beetles, ants, wasps, aphids, grasshoppers and spiders. You'll see more lizards in your garden in spring and summer as they search for food before hibernating during winter. Lizards can easily climb buildings, fences, rocks and trees, but they are actually shy and prefer to hide from humans and other predators.
Because lizards like to hide, look for potential shelters to clear away. Keep mulch layers around plants to about 2 to 3 inches deep. Remove thick plants, fallen leaves, log and rock piles and store firewood and lumber away from your home. Use off-the-ground storage for lumber, crates, boxes, sacks and gardening equipment. Close cracks in your foundation and around pipes and utility connections with 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth, mortar or sheet metal. Since lighting draws insects, which in turn draws lizards, use timers so your outdoor lighting doesn't stay on all night.
Traps and Chemicals
There are no chemicals registered to repel lizards, but insecticides can kill their main food source in your garden and make lizards look elsewhere for lunch. Spray an insecticide like cypermethrin at 1 ounce to 1 gallon of water in a band around your house or deck. If you're pregnant or nursing, have someone else spray, and keep children and pets out of the area until the solution is dry. A less-toxic method is to use a trap. Glue traps are effective, but you'll have to pour vegetable oil on the lizard's feet to release the sticky glue. Keep children and pets away from the traps. To remove a lizard inside your home, place a pot over it, and then slide a stiff piece of cardboard or poster board underneath the pot, pick up the cardboard and pot and release the lizard outside.
If All Else Fails
If your family is afraid of lizards, let them know that lizards are actually beneficial to a garden. They eat insects that harm plants and can sting and attack humans, like mosquitoes and spiders. Lizards in turn are a favorite meal of carnivorous birds, mammals, snakes and even other lizards. These garden comedians are often colorful and amusing to watch when they are sunning themselves or they start doing push-ups, which is a form of communication between them. Some people even treat garden lizards as pets.