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Squirrel Control Newsletter



Squirrels are pretty little rodents and they are funny at times - but they are incredibly destructive pests. There are no foolproof solutions to the damage they do. There are, however, some relatively effective solutions to some of the damaging habits they have.


Damage to fruit and nut trees. Truth is - I don’t have a clue. Netting is recommended but that is too much trouble and sometimes ineffective. Have tried various repellents but nothing works very well. The photo above is one of the most interesting ever. An attendee at my latest talk at the Mother Earth Fair in Topeka, Kansas brought me the story and the walnut. The squirrel’s precision drilling to get the tasty black walnut meat is fascinating. The symmetry of the work is excellent. Making a mess with acorns. Beats me. Just use a rake and/or shop vac to clean up the mess.


Dead spots in trees. This is an ugly condition that pops in various trees, especially pecans in the summer. It is a tough situation to stop short term but the long-term solution is the Sick Tree Treatment. That’s because the stress in the tree is causing sugars to build up and the sugars are attracting the animals. The STT will relieve the stress. Believe me – it works.

Bark eaten off Japanese maples, redbuds, fruit trees and other thin barked trees. Squirrels will sometimes chew on tree branches to sharpen and clean their teeth. That's why you may see many small branches on the ground around large trees. But again the main reason this damage is happening is the attractiveness of the sugar accumulations in the tree. The root flares (bases) of the trees should be uncovered and the rest of the Sick Tree Treatment applied. Once healthy again the trees won’t be so attractive to munch on.

Digging out beds, pots and flats. The most damage I get from squirrels is from digging. Squirrels love to plant acorns but seem to forget where they put them and proceed to dig randomly. In beds that usually isn’t a problem, but around small transplants and especially in pots, this is a frustrating problem. My solution for this behavior works well. Mulch the bare soil with lava gravel. Squirrels will sometimes push the gravel out of the way and dig anyway but it is rare. The jagged surfaces of the lava irritate their little paws. Other kinds of gravel won’t work. Lava gravel also holds moisture well and helps plants grow.

Damage to outdoor furniture and other wood structures. Tabasco sauce in water or any other hot pepper mixtures at 1 oz. per gallon of water repels most rodents including mice, rats, rabbits and even squirrels. The only problem is that the treatment has to be repeated as the hot wears away.

Here’s one case study that’s a good example.

Q: We planted a 5-gallon Shumard red oak about 4 years ago. It has grown very well without any problems. Today I noticed that the bark has chipped away nearly all the way around the bottom of the tree. Upon inspection, I see that there are several joints where the bark is gone. Could you tell me what is happening to our tree and what I should do to stop it? Thank you. S.F. Mineola

A: Animal damage like this causes severe injury to trees or shrubs. If the damage is all the way around the trunk, the tree will not survive. To prevent this problem in the future, increase the health of the soil and the tree. This tree is at least 6" too deep in the ground. Its root flare should be exposed and any circling and girdling roots should be removed.

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Naturally yours,

Howard Garrett
The Dirt Doctor


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