Help! The squirrels ate all of my peaches!

laura441August 10, 2013

My family and I just came back from a week vacation and found not ONE peach on my tree. My kids were devastated! It was loaded with peaches when we left. This is the third year that we have this tree and it is large and produces lots of fruit....none of which we have ever tasted. Does anyone have any ideas on how to prevent the theft next year?? Any help will be appreciated!

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mrsg47(7)

Loaded question. Pun intended!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 8:50PM
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ltilton

There are a lot of squirrel threads here, each one more bloodthirsty than the last.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:02PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Gotta stay home when they ripen, then pick as soon as possible, before the squirrels get them.

Don't wait until dead ripe. All you need is that the base color of the skin at the stem end is beginning to lose the green color.

Netting may help, too. But make certain no easy "entrances" are available.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 12:37AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Jean,

No offense but if you pick them that early you might as well buy them in the store. The joy of having fruit trees is to get good tree ripened fruit. One could argue it's better to get rock hard fruit opposed to no fruit. Laura you have to kill the squirrels or use one of a number of techniques to keep them out of the tree.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 8:47AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Look for the posts by harvestman talking about squirrel baffles. If you have no trees nearby to jump from you can put a block on the trunk.

Scott

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 9:41AM
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laura441

Thank you! It is so frustrating! Next year I will be more vigilant!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 9:42AM
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laura441

I just saw the other posts! I will search for the threads mentioned. Unfortunately, there are other trees near it and a fence. I have two dogs, but they are lazy and would rather spend the day lounging indoors! I may put them to work next year.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 9:47AM
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lucky_p

Start an intensive and dedicated trap and terminate program - now - and by next year, maybe - just maybe - you'll have impacted the local squirrel population sufficiently to actually get a fruit or two. No guarantees, however.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 11:30AM
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curtis(5)

If trapping you do not need to get a very big head start. squirrels are territorial, so lets say there are 100 in your neighborhood, but only 10 will step foot on your property (for now) So start trapping on the 4th of July, assuming peaches are your only problem. You will clear out the primary group, then others will experiment with entering your yard the rest of the year, so you have to keep a trap going. The trap should be near where they are going, and be visible from the house so you can keep an eye on it. Use black walnuts as bait, not only is it awesome bait, it limits your catch to squirrels. Block off the trap so only one end can be entered, and block off the sides so they can't be messing with it and trip it from outside. Put 6-8 walnuts on the other side of the trip pan. After you get all the easy ones, you can put a free-be walnut just inside the opening to encourage them to go for the rest.

Conventional wisdom is they need to be killed when caught. Squirrels can find their way home from a very long ways away unless you can get them on the other side of a river

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 1:49PM
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guatejo

squirrels ate 90% of my huge apple crop this year. I tried trapping with spring traps but they know how to trip them then get the bait. I have now caught 5 grays and 2 reds in a have a hart trap. The grays easily trip the lever but the reds don't weigh enough. I had to position the lever just so it would be sensitive enough to trip with less weight. Now the Chipmunks are eating the few apples that are left. Somehow they trip the lever but never get caught. Very frustrating.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 2:01PM
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ramble

If your property is isolated, hang a radio from the tree. Watch at night though, because sound travels.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 8:23PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

" Somehow they trip the lever but never get caught. Very frustrating."

Tomahawk makes a trap that has a much better trip mechanism than Havahart. I think Havahart squirrel traps stink. I bought 3 different harvahart squirrel traps (two double door traps and one single door trap) and none of them were very good.

I bought one Tomahawk single door trap (24" long) and it works great. I don't even use the Havahart squirrel traps any more.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 8:50PM
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ltilton

Havahart has a new trip mechanism supposed to easier to set, and it just sucks.

The older style is much better.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 9:45PM
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mjmarco(Zone 6 Upstate NY)

May not only be squirrels...you were on vacation right? So if your neighbors are selling peach jam, peach pie or peach cobbler...save the squirrels.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 7:17AM
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ahgrower Horne

Hi Laura441,
I feel for you.Although all my peach trees are dwarf and semi-dwarf, ( I have about 12 peaches and altogether 25 fruit trees in total) , I use netting and I often double net the trees. No problems with squirrels, birds or even family members! LOL. If you have a standard sized tree, get a tall ladder and have someone help you double-net your tree. I know it can be troublesome trying to make sure you have every opening closed-but if your peaches are as tasty as mine, and if you really want to eat and enjoy your peaches at peak ripeness,(there is no satisfaction to compare with) you will go to all the aggravation it takes to make sure your tree is fully secured... When the peaches are ripe, then just cut in certain sections and harvest your fruit. I guarantee this will work for you!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 9:28AM
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lawanddisorder(6)

Laura, I feel your pain. I had about 18 peaches on my tree, which would've been my first harvest. I checked them on Friday and planned on harvesting them on Sunday. Sunday morning I noticed two were missing, and figured it was my neighbors as I didn't see any remnants nearby and had told the neighbors to help themselves, so I ran some errands and planned to pick them when I returned. An hour or so later, every single one was gone. The bastards left two half eaten ones on the ground.

Does anyone know of a poison that works only for squirrels? It would need to be safe for use around outdoor cats because there are a few in the neighborhood... trapping and drowning seems a little too harsh because my neighbors would see and trapping and relocating seems like a major pain. and shooting is not an option because of proximity of neighbors. So, its either netting or poisoning for me.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 1:39PM
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ltilton

Poisoning isn't good for the reason you suspect. Not only cats, but dogs, foxes, coyotes and birds could be harmed by the secondary poisoning.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 2:49PM
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insteng

I had the same problem only it wasn't squirrels it was either a raccoon or a oppussum. My problem is I am only there on the weekends. Next year I will have to either set traps out or stay up one weeekend and shoot them. I have several barn cats so I don't have any problems with squirrels. I don't even have squirrels in my pecan trees.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 2:59PM
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insteng

I had the same problem only it wasn't squirrels it was either a raccoon or a oppussum. My problem is I am only there on the weekends. Next year I will have to either set traps out or stay up one weeekend and shoot them. I have several barn cats so I don't have any problems with squirrels. I don't even have squirrels in my pecan trees.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 3:00PM
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lawanddisorder(6)

I just saw this amazing contraption on a link posted in another thread...

This will be added to my backyard next year. the neighbors will have no idea what I am up to!

Here is a link that might be useful: Squirrel Trap

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 12:57PM
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ltilton

Yes, that's the wondrousness of it!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 1:15PM
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olympia_gardener(5)

The squirrel trap seems an good idea and easier to set it up. The resident squirrel stole my only nectarine that I have been waiting for it to bear fruit and to taste its flavor for the past three years. The squirrel cleaned up all the fruits on my Reliance; the squirrel reduced tree-full of fruits to 4 on my July Elberta. I have these 4 peaches enclosed in plastic berry containers. So far, it seems effective but don't know how long.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 12:07PM
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ltilton

I have found that to a certain extent, certain individual squirrels are responsible for much of the damage. I had one squirrel gnawing on the squash in my garden. That squirrel went away. No more gnawing.

It's best to eliminate problem squirrels before they can pass on their evil ways to their own young.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 1:40PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

The squirrel trap link is hilarious!! I like the trap that launches them straight into the air!!

Then for catch duty: "You do have a dog don't you?"

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:21PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

ltilton,

Im in the camp of:

"Kill them all and let God sort them out." ~Arnaud Amalric

By the time you've identified malicious behavior, its either learned by another or your crop has been destroyed or both.

They are a top 100 invasive species in the world. I have no qualms about controlling my local population.

-Eric
----------------------------------------------------

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 3:01PM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

I agree with the "it might be something else" advice.

This year I caught 3 raccoons in two days and then one more a day later in my peach orchard. They got 95% of my early/mid season peaches. I'm hoping the later ones will be ok, but my son told me he saw a mother and 5 young walking into the woods the other day!!

The other thing I did last year that seemed to help (but I stupidly didn't get around to doing this year) was to cage individual trees as they ripened. I have a big fence around the orchard for deer, but it obviously doesn't stop the little guys, so I'd take those 4 or 5 foot high rolls of welded wire fence and circle the tree with it. I then drapped bird netting over the top.

I don't know if I just got lucky last year because none of that should stop a determined raccoon, but I harvested close to 100% of the fruit.

I keep my trees pretty short and not too wide so it makes it much easier to circle the trees, but since the ripening was spread out, I never had to do more than 2 trees at once.

Interestingly, the one squirrel I trapped this year was in the apple orchard.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:30PM
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spartan-apple

I agree with the statement from Itilton. When I had a peach in my backyard, the squirrels would start hitting my
peaches as soon as they colored well in mid-July.

I baited a hav-ahart just below the tree with a peanut and
eventually would get the squirrel. Even though I am in the city with lots of squirrels, it seemed all the damage was caused by just a few nuisance ones. Once trapped,
I had no more issues the rest of the picking season even
though I left the trap baited just in case.

I don;t mind if they eat a few but to go down a branch and bite on every peach was frustrating!

My best defense was finally my neighbor who taught a
gun control class. Being home all day, he used the sheridan air rifle to really reduce the population. Just a temporary thing as more move into the area later.

I have heard of others leaving their dog chained up by the peach tree at harvest time as the dog would keep them away.

Thankfully my peach trees are now out on my country site and I have had no squirrel issues there (just deer).

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 11:09AM
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