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California Gardening: Anyone else have squirrel problems?

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lilystorm
San Jose, CA

April 7, 2005
8:05 PM

Post #1389762

We have such an overpopulation of squirrels here that they seem to be consuming pretty much everything. Each year they eat my entire fruit crop, as well as any plant material that is tasty. For instance, I planted sunflowers last week. Two hours after planting, I noticed they had been eaten to the ground. (This is in broad daylight around noon, so I'm quite sure snails aren't the culprit.) During the summer, the squirrels grab the fruit and then sit joyfully eating on our deck.

Anyone have any solutions? We've tried netting the trees and putting covers on other plants, but the squirrels will pretty much find a way in. And, the netting causes some deforming of the trees.

Is there anything that scares or repels squirrels?
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 8, 2005
1:22 AM

Post #1390168

Oh, yes, we have the little buggers, too -- and we don't have much for them to eat yet, though they have chewed on our little manzanitas. So far, the neighbors dogs seem to be the best deterrent. I was a bit worried about the way they tromp across our property, but they seem to only dig when they get a squirrel or gopher, so I'm not complaining. Besides, they sure look happy when they run around.

We've just planted apple trees, so I'll be watching this thread with interest.
lilystorm
San Jose, CA

April 8, 2005
3:08 AM

Post #1390355

I have a dog, but I think the squirrels know that he's not always outside. Also, the squirrels run along the fence line, secure in the knowledge that he can't jump that far.

I keep looking at gardening catalogues to see if anyone introduces any squirrel deterrents. I always see things for other garden pests, but no squirrels. Unfortunately, squirrels are very crafty. I've thought about the owl on a fence and other scare tactics, but I really think the squirrels would figure out very quickly that the owl just never moved.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 8, 2005
3:03 PM

Post #1391084

I haven't seen much in the way of deterrents, either -- just poisons. We have ground squirrels -- is that your problem, lilystorm? -- and I've read if you can find both ends of their den and block up the holes, you can gas them.

If someone comes up with a deterrent, they will sure make a bundle -- but all those squirrels would have to go somewhere!

Forgot to say we also have coyotes, but even they don't eliminate them. :-(
lilystorm
San Jose, CA

April 8, 2005
4:51 PM

Post #1391352

We have coyotes too, but they definitely are not controlling the squirrel population enough. I don't actually think our squirrels are ground squirrels. They mostly hang out in the trees and run around eating my plants, fruit, etc.

I don't mind sharing a little of my fruit harvest, but when they take every morsel and then go around eating any annual or perennial that is even remotely tasty, I have to take exception. They will eat the fruit as much as two months before it is actually ripe, making it impossible for us to get there first.

I agree, someone could make a bundle on a good squirrel repellent.
karenmcb
Bradbury, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 12, 2005
3:51 AM

Post #1397396

I too am having problems. They are digging up my bulbs as they emerge. I am just about ready to use my son's old beebee gun(sp?). It didn't dawn on me initially that the squirrels were the problem. Yes, they run across the fence and are very safe and secure.

I did see something listed on Gardners' Supply called Bulb Insurance that is made to protect bulbs from these little critters. I just checked and see they have a couple of articles on their website as well that I am going to read. However, I am planting my summer/fall bulbs now and I don't want to go through what I did with my sping bulbs.

Any other thought ?
karenmcb
Bradbury, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 12, 2005
10:59 PM

Post #1399255

Well, I found something I am going to try. I went down to my local Armstrong Nursery today and purchased a product called Shake Away. Time will tell if it works. I have nothing to loose at this point.

Thought you might like a website for this product. Here it is.

http://www.critter-repellent.com/squirrel/squirrel-repellent.php


Hope this works. You might want to explore this for yourself.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 13, 2005
12:25 AM

Post #1399413

Karen,

I've seen this, too, and wondered about it. I haven't seen hide nor hair of our little blighters for a couple of weeks, so either the dogs got 'em/scared 'em away, or they're busy in their den raising youngsters.

I searched Google Groups to see if there was a mention of Shake Away and could only find second hand mentions. However, a couple of people had luck with something I've heard of before -- feed them peanuts away from your desireables. I don't think this would work with a large number, but for one or two, it might be worth it.

I also heard of this tactic to keep jays away from the small-bird feeders. Must be in the shell, because they take them away and bury them! I had no idea birds did that.

The other idea in the thread was funny. A guy said he used a slingshot with ice-cubes for ammo. Now this one has some positives -- no evidence and no bodies to dispose of! Apparently the cubes are annoying enough to convince the squirrels to go to friendlier territory, even if you just get close. I know I would be convinced by a high velocity ice cube in the rear! :-)

I hope the Shake-Away works and will watch the thread for your report.

Cheers,

Kathleen
lilystorm
San Jose, CA

April 13, 2005
1:40 AM

Post #1399604

Thanks for the link, Karen. I wonder if their directions for hanging stockings stuffed with the repellent would work on my fruit trees? This might be worth a try. My only concern is that it could get costly with their recommendation of initially applying the repellent twice a week and then twice a month.
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 13, 2005
2:44 AM

Post #1399716

My wife chases them off the deck and yells at them. That seems to keep them away for a while. They have built several very large complexes of dens, she calls them condos. They spend a lot of the year hibernating. Mostly they eat grass and grass seeds and do not bother my stuff, so I have not had any great desire to do them in. A friend of mine who lives about a mile away shoots them with his pellet gun. He says he killed 90 last year. He says he leaves them lay and they are gone by the next morning. Population here is pretty stable, youngsters are plentiful in the spring but then seem to disappear as the summer rolls on. Once I weed wack you can have a great show. Until then it is hard to see them.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

April 13, 2005
2:49 AM

Post #1399732

Chuck,

I usually hear them before I see them. And yes, I chase them off, too -- but I can get within a few feet of them before they run off. Guess I'll see as time goes on how much of a problem they will be. I still like the ice cube idea. LOL

Kathleen
Chuck1260
Arroyo Grande, CA

April 13, 2005
2:56 AM

Post #1399748

The two neighbor cats come over and watch them from the barbecue in the morning. They are pretty skittish, if you move inside the house they can see you and dive for the hole. They have moved a little farther away each year. When the people finally build on the lot next door, the squirrels will move into the open space beyond. So it is a temporary problem. Food for the hawks, coyotes, foxes, cats and anyone else who is hungry. Saw a possum the other morning, early wandering across the deck. He didn't see and just sauntered along for a while.
karenmcb
Bradbury, CA
(Zone 9b)

April 13, 2005
5:28 AM

Post #1399966

Chuck, it sounds as if you have a problem with ground squirrels. I believe mine are tree squirrels.

Lilystorm, I had not read far enough to see the mention on the site about the fruit trees. I will have to go back and read this. I have fruit trees and avocado tree. However, right not I am most concerend about my bulbs and plants. I will read about this tomorrow and put into use tomorrow. Since I have a problem with racoons in the area as well, I am going to talk to the manuafacuturer. When I spoke with the people at Armstrong, they said I could use the one for racoons and deer and it would work for squirrels as well. It seems from what I did read on the site that this is true. Time will tell. I will keep you posted on my success or lack there of.
Blackwing
Gazelle, CA

July 20, 2005
4:23 PM

Post #1636538

Has anyone tried scattering black pepper on the ground near the plants you want to protect? This spring I had critters nesting in the air system in my car -- very nasty, since they died in there! -- and the mechanic who cleaned it out told me I should go to a discount place, buy black pepper in bulk, and shake it on the ground near the cars. Haven't tried it yet.
3girls
SE PA, PA
(Zone 6b)

July 21, 2005
5:56 PM

Post #1639149

I've heard they dislike cayenne. I wonder if a strong solution of garlic and cayenne with some soap mixed into 2-3 gal sprayers and sprayed all over everything would work.

I envision a one time marathon session, and then, making the circuit of the garden/orchard spraying out a sprayer- full each day or two. If it rains, start over--should last for a couple weeks. Diligence in the beginning could make your yard taste really nasty. I think this is called aversion training.
doss
Stanford, CA
(Zone 9b)

July 25, 2005
3:23 AM

Post #1647586

Seems as if you have a bulb problem, chicken wire would do the trick. Sadly, squirrels can jump 7 feet. The only thing that has worked for me is to really water and feed my fruit trees well so they make a lot of fruit - and then there is some left for me. Any squirrel worth it's salt can get through a net.

The home and garden network had a program on squirrels that was really good. They may still have it available.

One other thing. Take down squirrel nests. They'll break your trees as they can get to 50 pounds. And while they won't get rid of squirrels it may deter others from coming.
abbyday
Stamford, CT

May 14, 2008
6:52 PM

Post #4950867

My gorgeous pulmonaria was doing so well until I came out one day to find a quarter of the patch gone. Thought it was the Bartlett guy who came to feed the dogwood above...sorry Bartlett guy for cursing you. A few days later I noticed about 3/4 of the patch was gone. Drat! Then a couple days ago I see this fat little squirrel chewing away on the leaves. Maybe he has lung issues. I put about a dozen garlic cloves around the remaining four leaves and he just walks right over them. Maybe put peanuts in ice and watch them try to get to it! That would keep them busy. Oh, well the little guys have to eat too. Maybe I will grow some lettuce over there.
LindaCA
Concord, CA
(Zone 9a)

May 14, 2008
9:01 PM

Post #4951333

The only thing I have found to deter the squirrels is cayenne pepper. I tried Shake Away and a couple others I think one was called scat but it didn't work. I put the cayenne in my hanging baskets and potted plants and even around some plants in the ground. It does work, however it also washes away and has to be re-applied every couple of weeks. We have tree squirrels or as I like to call them tree rats. I get the big containers of cayenne at Sams lucky its pretty cheap.
Linda

lavender4ever

lavender4ever
(Louise) Highland, MI
(Zone 5b)

May 14, 2008
9:06 PM

Post #4951351

i had to quit feeding the birds to get rid of the squirrels. They come less frequently now. They use to eat all the grape flowers off my vines.
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

May 14, 2008
9:21 PM

Post #4951395

That's who's been after our grapes! This is the first year we've had flowers and I noticed they had been chewed off. Stinkers. Ours have taken residence under our compost bin and it's going to be a battle to get rid of them.
BerkeleyAnnie
Berkeley, CA
(Zone 10a)

June 13, 2008
2:41 PM

Post #5097846

I just planted four fejoa and an arbutus. I might as well have planted a sign that read "squirrel's, PLEASE RUIN THIS"
They tease my dogs staying just out of reach and twitching their infared tails (YES!)
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12477-squirrels-wield-a-hot-secret-weapon.html
They are sassy little buggers and as a berkeleyite and peace nick and otherwise politically correct person, I WANT TO SHOOT THEM! and their infared amazing tails!
KaperC
No. San Diego Co., CA
(Zone 10b)

June 13, 2008
3:33 PM

Post #5098149

Hmmm...I'm rooting for the snakes to evolve past this. Our property is absolutely riddled with squirrel holes now. Can't keep up with the cursed rodents.
BerkeleyAnnie
Berkeley, CA
(Zone 10a)

July 15, 2008
3:50 PM

Post #5262957

I put mothballs in the trees and the little guys seem to hate it!
A.
ecopepper
Orlando, FL

August 2, 2008
6:40 PM

Post #5359030

I put a big fake iguana in my garden by my bell peppers...I will let you know next week if it worked...otherwise I am keeping more kittens from a litter my cat just had and letting them got crazy...

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