About to pull out that gun, crossbow, or bat to kill those pesky garden eaters? Think again. MinnPost’s Sharon Schmickle tells us of a new scientific development from the University of Minnesota.

The news is that scientist Thomas Levar at the U of M Duluth has developed an animal repellent that works from the inside of plants by delivering a natural hot-pepper concentrate through their roots, making the plants inedible for deer, mice, voles, rabbits and other animals.

Levar, a forestry and horticulture specialist at UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute, had learned how Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) was used in veterinary and sports medicine to open pores in a membrane and move medicines through skin.

He adapted the process to plants, developing a formulation to move different types of protective chemicals through easily accessible plant pores. He started with a bitter substance that is used to keep children from sucking their thumb and moved on to capsicum, which comes from the plants that give us chili peppers.

Capsicum is “very safe and very effective,” Levar said in a statement. And the plants are not genetically modified in any way.

It’s rather like that hot pepper sprays some of us use.

The down side, it only works for about three months, until the plant outgrows the treatment. It’s also not recommended for plants that we eat.

“The active ingredient is dispersed throughout the tissue of the plant, therefore affecting the taste of the crop,” Levar said.