What to do to keep them away?
Shotgun with bird shot and good aim.
I think they've got spring fever. They chew off my bottlebrush flowers (don't eat them, just drop them on the ground), and the other day they chewed some leaves off a philodendrum. I moved the bird feeder to the back yard to try to keep them occupied back there.
something is eating the strawberries but I would think a squirrel would take the entire fruit? Could it be lizards?
I've got to agree with fawnridge.
The unfortunate fact is that almost nothing short of lethal force can stop squirrels once they've made up their minds to get at something.
It is fairly easy to catch them in a live-trap and relocate them somewhere FAR away.
Your trap will be more effective if you run a length of fishing line or sewing thread from the trap's trigger latch, across the yard to the house. Bait the trap with birdseed, and when you see the squirrel inside the trap and he hasn't sprung it, jerk on the string and trip it yourself. Sometimes squirrels don't have enough weight to trip the trigger.
If you cover the trap with a towel while transporting the squirrel, he'll remain calm and not injure himself bouncing around the cage.
You might try putting fake rubber snakes or owls around, but that might not work, you would have to move them around all the time, too, squirrels are smart. My son is having a time with them getting into his attic, I suggested he throw a pest control bomb up there but he doesn't want them to die up there. I would rather smell dead squirrels for awhile than to have one eat through the wiring and burn the house down. I suggested also that he go buy a huge rat snake and throw it up there, but there's no guarantee it would stay there. They are a huge nuisance and I don't have a problem using them for target practice, myself. I did hear that if you mix up plaster of paris and peanut butter, then roll them into balls and put them around, if the squirrels eat them they will die. Don't know if it works. But then the woodpeckers might get them, too. Or someone's pet.
> I would think a squirrel would take the entire fruit?
Nah, that's one of the irritating things about them. Lots of times one bite is enough. Some people say they do that because they need the moisture, so you might try putting out a water pan for them.
Squirrels do that one-bite thing to tomatoes and tree fruits all the time. They'll take a chunk out of every tomato on your plant just as it starts to color up and nibble every peach on a tree just as they start to ripen...grrr! As to them needing moisture, there's a ditch behind my yard that holds water all year. I have a fountain in the front, and I have tried putting water in pans near the tomatoes. Didn't change anything.
One year I planted 50 strawberry plants. Darn squirrels dug up every single one! I discovered the plants lying on the dirt the next morning; most of them were just beside their hole. They hadn't been eaten or chewed, just dug out. I replanted them, and they did it AGAIN. There weren't even any acorns planted in the holes. So, I have no idea what possessed them to dig up 50 strawberry plants...twice! (I'm used to them planting acorns everywhere...if they had their way my yard would be an impenetrable stand of oak trees.) I lost a lot of the plants from the roots drying out. Even I eventually learn, so I protected the strawberries with a net the third time I planted them.
They're cute, but as a gardener I dislike squirrels intensely. I'll always have plenty of them, too - both my next door neighbors have oak trees. I could trap individual squirrels, but others would quickly replace them.
It is my understanding that they do not like the thorns on rose bushes.
I have had problems with squirrels eating up my siding on the house. Some got into the house thru the fan door in the bathroom. Large piece of hardware clothe fixed that hole. The other one chewed thru the vinyl siding on the house and tried to make a nest in there. Up on the second floor. They dug up all my avocado plants, ate the seeds, even the plants I bought and were growing and blooming. I hate them. Like you say, if you get rid of them more just take their place. Oh, I have chicken wire around my hibiscus plant because something was eating the blossoms.
I am surrounded with very mature live oak trees, so there are an abundance of squirrels. They run along the top on our fence and taunt our labrador. I am afraid to see what happens with our new fruit plantings: barbados cherry, peach, mulberry, raspberry, and blueberry! I don't have the heart to kill them :-/