In the end, Nelson thinks what drove the raccoons away was the fear of her obsessed husband, who once woke up in time to maniacally chase them into the street.
Cindi Kane of the Coastal Animal Services Authority in San Clemente told me to try a "scarecrow motion detector" sprinkler that guns down squirrels with a jet stream.
Others, including Marjorie Noyes of Chula Vista, recommended professional trappers. But Susan Groesbeck gave me some doubts about trappers, saying she pulled up to a stoplight near UCLA and saw an unusual sight in a nearby car.
"I ... said, 'Hey, you have a raccoon on your shoulder.' " Turned out to be a trapper who informed Groesbeck he had another raccoon on his lap and five skunks in the back.
I don't know how some of my readers made such discoveries, but Bob Gale is convinced that bars of white Dial soap -- they have to be white and they have to be Dial -- will drive raccoons away if left in the yard.
In Woodland Hills, William Schneck hired a trapper who baited a cage with cantaloupe. Schneck looked outside one night to see a Houdini-like raccoon eating the cantaloupe outside the cage. The trapper retired.
When Janet Paulson's neighbor lost a battle with raccoons, she was moved to poetry.
"Raccoons are digging up all of my sod, I've cursed them to Satan, I've pleaded to God."
Actress Eva Marie Saint and husband Jeff Hayden suffered for years in Santa Barbara, gave up on trapping and decided instead to try a chemical spray to kill the grubs the raccoons were dining on.
"You have to repeat the treatment a couple of times a year, as I recall," Hayden said. "But it works!"
Here's another winner: "Nothing worked until I bought two rubber coral snakes at a toy store," said Bill Borgers Sr.
Jim Hughes suggested setting an AM-FM receiver near the offending creatures and tuning into talk radio, a sure-fire repellent.
"That, along with having motion sensor lights in the backyard, did the trick," he said.
I don't know. I think I'd rather be subjected to raccoons than to talk radio.
Ron and Erin Smelser suggested that urine isn't a bad way to go, but they recommended against relying on coyotes.
"Take a 6-pack of your favorite beer," they advised. "Drink copious amounts of said beer. This is key: DO NOT GO TO THE BATHROOM. Go out into your yard."
Do you get the picture?
I like the idea, but I'd probably end up getting arrested for indecent exposure.
In the end, I decided to go with two popular reader recommendations -- mothballs and cayenne pepper.
"Shake the cayenne over whatever area you don't want raccoons on," said Alyce Harris. John Schulian of Pasadena backed her up.
"It's a very simple process," Schulian said, "and if the animal-rights folks start bellyaching, you can tell them you're just clearing up the raccoon's sinuses."
To be honest, I don't know what kind of credentials some of these people have. But Hugh Taylor, a Caltech professor, was one of several who suggested mothballs. The guy's in the geological and planetary sciences department, so he must know something.
And so one night, more than a week ago, I went outside and sprinkled cayenne pepper on one side of my yard. I sprinkled mothballs on the other.
I don't know if I've won the war or if the raccoons are plotting a monstrous insurgency, but so far, so good.
And to think I was about to try the six-pack suggestion.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org and read previous columns at latimes.com/lopez.