Squirrels: Cute and Fuzzy, or Destructive Rats in Pretty Coats

A desperate gardenerd writes in:

“Help! Squirrels are devouring the fruits (or vegetables) of my labor. My sweet little tomatoes, my succulent squash–all gone. They’re cute little animals and all, but they’re not that cute. How can I deter them?”

Alas, I hear your cries.  I’ve gone toe-to-toe on a few occasions with our well-dressed woodland friends, and my mother has shared stories of the same decimating her yard as well.  They stare defiantly at me (sideways out of one eye) as I threaten them with death, seeming to say, “bring it on.”  There are many reported techniques that work – some better than others.  Let’s take a look at a few:

Human Hair – several people have reported that tucking tufts of human hair (available at any barber shop) among the plants will keep the critters away.  Lightly dig it into the soil and see what happens.

Moth Balls – while I don’t recommend this one, because moth balls are toxic, if you’re really desperate, this might be used as a last resort.

Pepper Spray – we’re not talking Mace here, we’re talking about the homemade concoction of chilies and water in a spray bottle.  Throw a handful of peppers in the blender with water and hit Frappe. Strain out solids and transfer it to a spray bottle.  Or mix powdered cayenne with water in a bottle.  You have to apply it around the perimeter every couple of days, and if you have a small space this might not be a problem for you, but with a large yard, it could be quite a  task.  However, it could help you work out your aggression on the squirrels.

Fox Urine – I have tried pelleted fox urine products for gopher protection and it worked to some degree.  Basically if you introduce a predator’s smell into the environment, the squirrels will stay away.  There is a product called Plantskydd that repels deer and “browsing” animals like rabbits and squirrels.  (Browsing – I like that.  “Would you like to scavenge my tomatoes?”  “No thank you, I’m just browsing”.)

There are other options that the Farmer’s Almanac writes about such as setting mouse traps and having motion-activated sprinklers.  You can read about that here.

Other folks have mentioned planting garlic near those attractive plants and bulbs that squirrels love.  It seems to deter them well.  There is also a small bag of smelly animal hair (cat, I believe) that you hang from trees that to keep them away.  My mother bought those and once witnessed a squirrel sitting next to the bag while it ate some of her grapes.  ARG!

Good luck with these options and keep us posted on what works for you.

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