Q: I just noticed today that something is eating our seven-year old Japanese maple. The damage looks fresh. There are plenty of bark chips all around the base. This tree has been beautiful and we would hate to lose it. Do you have any suggestions as to what is happening to our tree and what should we do?
A: It’s gotta be squirrels. Their population builds all summer long…and then all their food sources go away when cold weather arrives.
They eat dogwood flowerbuds and all sorts of other plant material as they try to survive winter.
Japanese maples have thin bark, easy to strip off with front teeth. That’s why the damage is so wide, unlike the quarter-inch holes a sapsucker bird would peck.
I think your only chance for relief would be to spray a bad-tasting product on the trunk of the tree. Ropel and Hot Pepper Wax are two such products. You could also try making your own pepper concoction …but be SURE to wear rubber gloves!