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Keeping Squirrels Out of Fruit Trees

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Closeup of Gray Squirrel

Squirrels can be really adorable, except when they are decimating your fruit trees. Stopping the squirrels from eating the fruit on your trees will help ensure a good harvest. This is a guide about keeping squirrels out if fruit trees.

Solutions: Keeping Squirrels Out of Fruit Trees

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Clear Plastic to Keep Squirrels Out of Pears

Squirrels ate every pear from my tree a few years ago. They start early in the season, well before the fruit ripens. The next year as soon as I noticed the fruit being eaten, I wrapped the tree with enormous sheets of clear plastic that I bought in the paint department sold as dropcloths. I bought 3 of the cheapest, biggest ones, spent less than $10. Then with the help of my son and a ladder, I wrapped the tree with the plastic, pinning it to branches and to itself with clothespins. My tree is about 10 years old and about 15 feet high.

The wrap job is nowhere near perfect but it works nevertheless. I concentrate on covering the branches with the most fruit. Some branches are too high so I don't get those covered. I loosely closepin the gaps between the sheets and I pin the plastic to the lower branches and close to the trunk.

In my yard, the squirrels jump from other trees onto the pear tree as well as approach from below. Even though the plastic is rather thin, the wrap job stays intact for the season. Windy days pop a clothepin or two off so I repair it, if necessary. The fruit seem to ripen just fine. Hooray! I save the plastic for next year. I have done this 3 years in a row with very good results.

By

Tip: Deer Cloth for Deterring Squirrels from Apples

This was my solution after every single apple disappeared last year. I go out several times a day and eyeball a count of ALL of the apples and they ALL seem to still be there.

I bought a fine mesh roll of deer cloth in July, about 36 inches x 50 feet and wrapped it around my Honeycrisp apple tree. I am going to have apple pie IN A MONTH! (8/8/13)

Supplies:

  • 50 ft deer cloth net
  • 12 ft pipe or pole
  • 40 in twist ties
  • 2 yd rope
  • 6 yd Top Hat lattice or 6 at 1/2 inch x 8 foot plastic pipes

The plastic pipes could be joined in the center of each to form a disc to extend and support net somewhat away from the branches.

Steps:

  1. First, I had help. We took a plastic pipe, about 3 inch diameter, and tied it vertically to the trunk of the tree. It is about 2 feet taller than the top branch.
  2. After encircling the 10 foot tree, starting at the top, several times, I tied where the wrapped deer cloth overlapped in many places, using twist ties from the produce department in the grocery store.
  3. I took the loose net that was next to the ground and tied all of it up to the trunk at the bottom of the trunk, using a piece of plastic rope.
  4. After the apples started weighing on the netting, I sorta crawled up and in and attached a leftover piece of plastic lattice fence horizontally on the tip top of the pipe to create a "hat" to hold the net away from the branches. I should have put in 2 or 3 to make an X. Next year.

By

Tip: Hang CDs in Cherry Trees

We have birds and squirrels visit our cherry tree. In order to have any cherries ourselves, I take old CDs, tie one end of a string through the center hole, and tie the other end on the tip of a tree branch. A gentle breeze will twist and turn them, causing the critters to leave the cherries alone. I don't put them out until just before harvest because, like anything else, once the critters become used to them they are useless as a deterrent. As soon as the harvest is done, I bring them in to keep until next year.

Where do I get so many CDs? I accumulate them all year long and even have family members hand me theirs. Some are old broken CD's or DVD's. Each new electronic device has a CD to give directions, making the old ones obsolete. By the time cherry picking time is here, I have quite a stack of them.

By

Tip: Use Electricity to Deter Garden Pests

I will be trying this in about a month. My friends in MA had very good luck last year with a small vegetable patch in their back yard. It took a few tweaks to the volts to not kill the birds. But they had an excellent harvest.

I planted my 3 dwarf apple trees 6 years ago and still have not enjoyed a single apple! I had such high hopes last year as I had been prepared with the bird netting wrapped over my trees. The fruit lasted long enough for me to realize I could get enough to make several pies and put up some sauce for the winter, until one afternoon I returned home from work to find the hairy little bugger inside the netting picking the apples and dropping them down to the bottom of the netting.

I scared him and he got out by an opening he had created in the closing seam of the netting. I went inside to get some fasteners to close it up some more and by the time I came out, he was bouncing his harvested apples over to the opening and dropping them to the ground to run off with. If I wasn't so mad, I would be impressed with his ingenuity.

I'll take some photos of the install and instructions in another posting as soon as my friend can get up here and set this plan up.

By

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Questions

Here are questions related to Keeping Squirrels Out of Fruit Trees.

Question: Moth Balls in Fruit Tree

I have a fruit tree want to keep squirrels from eating. Can I hang moth balls to deter them? Will my fruit taste like moth balls over time?

By maryc.

Question: Squirrels Eating My Apricots

I have an apricot tree that generally yields well. This year, there are dozens due to mild winter weather in northest Ohio. The tree is one of those varietals with an alleged, edible pit. In the past five years, we have yet to taste a ripe apricot. The problem, fox and gray squirels during the day and a mystery critter during the night, probably raccoons or flying squirrels. I have tried hot pepper spray, netting and don't think they would be afraid of an owl decoy after a couple of days. The one I placed to scare away the English sparrows has become a perch.

Short of ordinance which is certainly an option and perhaps a diabolical treat for me at this point, does anyone have any suggestions to: 1) Allow a reasonabie harvest of fresh apricots on my part and 2) allow another/ other species to share a few of these tasty fruits?

By Grumpy gardener


Most Recent Answer

By Suntydt [75]05/18/2012

I don't know if it would work for all the critters but it would cut down on some of them (especially the birds).

Add bells to your branches. Don't hang them from the limbs on strings tie them directly to the branch. This way when a critter goes on the branch (shaking it) the bells clatter. It may scare them away. Find bells that are very senstive. Smaller bells tend to be more sensitive than larger ones because their clacker isn't as heavy.

Another trick (that my father does) is to find a Model T coil and hook it up with a wire around the bottom of the tree. This gives any critter trying to cross and climb a shock. We had raccoons eating peaches off our tree before they developed enough to be picked. This trick stopped the little guys.

I was told or read that you can also put something sticky around the base of the trunk of the tree and it will deter climbing critters. They don't like how their paws stick. Not sure off hand what would be wide enough that the critters wouldn't step over it easily. Something like a fly strip but much wider. Maybe there is a substance they sell at a yard and garden place for insects (like ants) that you can spray on the trunk.

Question: Keeping Squirrels Out of Fruit Trees

I just landscaped my backyard and added about 5 fruit trees. First I noticed all the pomegranate blossoms and one small fruit on the ground one morning. Then I was admiring the Asian pear on my tree and the next day it was gone. There was a slight hole under the tree like it was dug away. Lots of gardenia blossoms were also on the ground, but those may be from overwatering.

I do have squirrels visiting my yard cause I feed the birds and they try to get at that food. Any good ways to keep my fruit away from them? I spent a lot of time and money on the yard and was looking forward to the fruit.

By Barb


Most Recent Answer

By gbk [45]08/29/2011

The only thing I have found that works to keep my fruit for myself from the squirrels is to grow hot peppers. Make hot pepper sauce with water from them and spray that on the trees. The pepper burns their mouth and they leave it alone but have to add it every couple of weeks. Sometimes I add a little Murphy's oil soap to the mix and that helps too. This was the first year I actually got all my peaches.

Question: Keeping Squirrels Out Of Fruit Trees

How do you keep squirrels out of nut and fruit trees?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

By Sarah from MS


Most Recent Answer

By jffb07/25/2011

Adjustable animal shield

Archives

Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Squirrels Eating My Apples

Q: Is there a way to discourage squirrels from feasting in my garden? They have eaten every apple on my three trees.

Diane

A: Diane,

This is a tough problem. Other than tying a cat or dog out to guard your tree, your best line of defense is trying to discourage squirrels from climbing it in the first place. Here are a few suggestions:

Attach a 2-3 ft wide metal collar/baffle around the trunk about 6 ft. up from the ground. Use one that is fastened with springs to allow for expansion as the tree trunk grows.

If possible, remove branches less than 6 ft from the ground and those that come within 6 ft of other trees or buildings.

If squirrels are using a telephone or cable wire to access you tree, you can slip a plastic disk or some 10-inch PVC tubing over the wire to prevent squirrels from crossing it. CAUTION: DO NOT do this to power lines! It's very dangerous!

I have a flowering crab tree in my backyard. I feed birds from feeders in my front yard. For the past 5 years I have offered the squirrels and chipmunks a pan of black-oil sunflower seeds a few feet away from the feeders at the base of another tree. So far this has successfully kept them from raiding the rest of my feeders and my apple tree. I haven't noticed any increases in their population, but I admit there may be other forces at work-a large predatory bird population and (unfortunately) several neighborhood cats on the prowl.

By Ellen Brown

More Answers:

RE: Squirrels Eating My Apples

Could it be raccoons? They love apples too. And they will come at night and seem to have very large tummies. (08/29/2005)

By valleyrimgirl

RE: Squirrels Eating My Apples

I hadn't thought of raccoons - maybe they are in on this too. I have seen the squirrels boldly sitting in the trees eating though. Whatever it is, I desparately need a solution. After all the work of pruning and spraying, it is very discouraging to watch the apples disappear before they even ripen. (08/29/2005)

By Diane

RE: Squirrels Eating My Apples

Raccoons do NOT like the smell of vinegar. My mom just read that in a magazine article to me last night. Place jars with vinegar at the base of the tree and poke holes in the lid of the jar. This supposedly works to keep the raccoons out of a corn patch. I would think that they would then not climb the apple tree.

If it is squirrels... I do not know if that would work. Squirrels jump from tree to tree. Do you have netting that you can put over the tree? What about picking the apples? Are they close to being ready...even if you have to make all of them into apple pies (with lots of sugar) at least you would get to eat the apples, not the squirrels. What about giving the squirrels an alternate source of food (to deter them)?What about spraying a mixture of cayenne pepper on the tree? They HATE that taste. All you would have to do later is wash the apples off.

What do you think? (08/29/2005)

By valleyrimgirl

RE: Squirrels Eating My Apples

If you have a lot of trees around your's and the neighboring properties, it is like you are in a squirrel run!

If you and your neighbors have bird feeders in yards that squirrels can get to, it will encourage them to hang around. For us it was a problem keeping the squirrels from eating from the bird feeder. Eliminate food sources is a help ... not always the answer ... but a start.

There are traps that you can trap and release to another area; we have a park that hubby releases them to. We have released hundreds over the years. We have three traps ... one high price purchased and two cheaper ones purchased at a yard sale.

Squirrels are smart little things, and it always seems like they have the upper hand in figuring out how to get the fruits! It is a battle of the witts!

I don't think there is any perfect solution. (08/31/2005)

By syd

RE: Squirrels Eating My Apples

Source: http://www.garden.org/pestlibrary/animals.php?q=show&id=1795

These furry rodents are regulars at many backyard birdfeeders and will also attack a variety of garden targets such as young seedlings, berries, fruits, and vegetables. They even have been known to decapitate flowers such as tulips -- seemingly just for fun. Chipmunks are particularly good at unearthing bulbs, eating freshly planted seeds, and munching on maturing root crops.

Control

These rodents are smart. Given time, they'll find a way to get to their desired target. As with birds, it's best to vary your approach every so often to keep the rodents off balance. An good exclusion trick is to place a baffle on fruit tree trunks or bird feeder poles. New "squirrel-proof" feeders appear frequently in catalogs -- they may feature counter-weighted or electrified perches that surprise the critters when they visit the feeder. Some gardeners have had success spraying animal repellents such as cayenne pepper mix, predator urine, mothballs, and commercial formulas on or around plants. Others have had short-term success using ultrasonic noisemakers or setting up separate squirrel-feeding stations to lure them away from the garden. Trapping is the surest way to remove problem rodents. Live traps are very effective for particularly pesky squirrels or chipmunks. However, don't expect to control a whole population with trapping -- there are always more squirrels and chipmunks waiting to move in. (09/04/2005)

By Anonymous, NY

RE: Squirrels Eating My Apples

I had a problem with squirrels eating my strawberries.I put a electric radio under a 5 gallon pail and turned on the music to a country and western station. No more squirrel. And now wonderful berries. Hope this works for you. (09/09/2005)

By Kinga Duchin

Archive: Keeping Squirrels off of Fruit Trees

Keeping squirrels from harvesting your apples and pears. Puncture a hole in a few aluminum pie plates, tie them singly with twine to the lower branches of your fruit trees. The clanging will scare them away.

By Chell


RE: Keeping Squirrels off of Fruit Trees

Here is a recipe called Squirrel Beaters Tonic
  • 2 Tbsp. of cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. of tabasco sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. of chilli pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. of Murphy Oil Soap
  • 1 quart of warm water
Mix all together and pour in a hand sprayer and spray all over fruit. Hope it works for you. I have not tried it yet but plan to. (05/20/2008)

By Raymond

Archive: Squirrels Eating My Apples

This year, we are over-run with squirrels. They are even picking green apples off my tree, taking a bite out of them, then tossing them to the ground.

Read More...

Archive: Keeping Squirrels Out Of Fruit Trees

I have tried owls, snakes, moth balls and spray. None worked for more than a day. Tried the plastic cone around the trunk and they jumped to the top edge and crawled up anyway.

This year I put "tangle foot", a product that is very sticky and used to keep pigeons off areas. Worked great. As soon as they jumped to the cone edge and got the adhesive on the front feet, they dropped off the cone and did not come back. They were not hurt in any way, but did not like the adhesive.

By rn4005 from Omaha, NE