How Southwest Florida residents deal with invasive iguanas

Published: August 12, 2022 3:50 PM EDT
Updated: August 12, 2022 5:58 PM EDT

A Southwest Florida man uses an unorthodox method to keep invasive iguanas out of his yard.

In Cape Coral, iguanas are seen sunbathing along seawalls and running across yards, but Richard Dahlstrom has a plan to get rid of the pesky pest. He uses CDs in his yard to deter them. It’s been about a month since he put them up and he said his plants are grateful.

“They can be cute, but they devastate a lot of the plants, you know, and we had trouble with like, our bougainvillea,” Dahlstrom said. “They were eating it.”

Iguanas, an invasive species, have stirred up trouble in Cape Coral for years. The bougainvillea was a wedding gift to him and his wife a few years ago. They are doing a good job of taking care of it until the iguanas invaded their yard.

The “little buggers” kept gnawing at his plants, he said.

“It turns out that flashy items interfere with their eyesight,” Dahlstrom said. “In company with that, I had a lot of CDs. And my wife said, what do you need all those CDs for anymore? Everybody’s streaming, you know, get rid of those.”

Harold Rondan uses a different approach to keep the common pests out of people’s yards.

“We have to use air guns, which is regulated here in the State of Florida,” said Rondan, an iguana hunter. “There’s a certain pellet that you need to use, a certain place need to hit them; it has to be humane.”

While he uses an airgun, he doesn’t recommend it to others.

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, it is a recipe for disaster,” Rondan said. “Most people don’t understand that they’re putting six, seven shots into the iguana, which is very inhumane.”

Rondan said anyone can join him for a scheduled trip where he can show the humane way to stop the large lizards.

There are consequences if the animals are killed inhumanely like a $100 fine.

“You can call in a trapper or somebody to come and who has a permit to move the iguana,” said Ella Guedour, an environmental sciences graduate student at FGCU. “It’s kind of required the help of everybody living here to keep these numbers of invasive species low.”

As for Dahlstrom, he said he will stick to his method.

“Now that we know that the technique was successful, well, we’re gonna do is probably go online and get, you know, whirly gigs,” he said.

The whirly gigs may be a more appealing backyard decoration too. If you do happen to see someone though remove the iguanas in an inhumane way, you are encouraged to contact The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.