Q: My apple and pear trees began to bear last year but I didn’t get a single one. The squirrels got them all! Now that I see the fruit beginning to form, what can I do to protect my crop?
A: Squirrels present an interesting evolutionary conundrum. When motorists run them over in the street, the least intelligent ones are removed from the population. That leaves the intelligent ones alive. These are the ones who are smart enough to invade houses and raid “squirrel proof” bird feeders – and steal fruit with impunity. They are smart enough to laugh at plastic owls and fake snakes. They are quick enough to avoid prowling cats and yapping dogs.
In fact about the only thing that will help you is to forcibly remove some of your squirrel population.
Squirrels are easy to trap.
Buy a cage trap and some sunflower seed.
Put the trap on a piece of newspaper in a spot where you commonly see squirrels. Place a small handful of sunflower seed BEHIND the trigger plate, so the animal has to step on the plate to get to the bait.
I catch most squirrels in the morning, as they do their daily foraging. Put a towel over the cage after you catch the animal to keep it calm.
In my experience, taking the squirrels two miles away is sufficient to keep them from returning.
Remember that by law you must have permission from the landowner to release an animal.
Also, some proportion of the squirrels will not survive in their new environment. See Squirrel Relocation Problems
I’ll let you weigh your options and proceed accordingly.
When you’ve caught a dozen or so, there will be more food to eat in your yard for those that are left. They won’t be quite as interested in your apples and pears. An aggressive dog or cat will help even more. Good luck!
Q: How can we keep squirrels from taking a bite out of green tomatoes? They take one bite and drop them on the ground, ruining a perfectly good tomato! We have tried various things but nothing works!
A: I wish there were a product called “Varmit-B-Gon” but there is no such item.
I’ve heard of folks doing everything from leaving plastic bowls of water for their squirrels to draping sweaty shirts over the tomato cage.
When it comes to animal pest control, there are all sorts of home remedies that worked once for someone – so they share their secret with everyone without bothering to find out if it works for many other people.
The best I can suggest is using a cage trap, baited with peanut butter and sunflower seed. You’ll catch bluejays and mockingbirds along with a few individual squirrels, who can be taken to visit their country cousins. Eventually you’ll catch the miscreant squirrel(s) and your tomatoes can ripen in peace.
An added benefit of your squirrel adventures is that you’ll have cocktail party stories to last ’til Christmas!