Q: I need information about putting red pepper on birdseed. Does this work to repel squirrels and, if so, how much should I use? I hate to quit feeding the birds, but I can’t afford to fill my feeder every day because the squirrels are emptying it so fast.
A: Researchers at Cornell University mixed cayenne pepper with sunflower seed and found it significantly reduced squirrel feeding. Previous research reported that birds are not sensitive to capsaicin, the heat-producing chemical in hot pepper.
Squirrel Away powder is available at garden centers. Follow label directions for mixing it with sunflower seed. It’s best to work with only five pounds at a time, to achieve through coverage. Try lightly spraying the seed with cooking oil to make the pepper powder stick tightly.
Thad Weed at Wild Birds Unlimited says pepper oil, such as Squirrel-Free Seed Saver can be used to make both seed and home-made suet repellent to squirrels. Be SURE to wear rubber gloves and work in a windless spot when using pepper products.