Dang squirrels in my tomatoes!!

mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)August 23, 2013

We noticed a few tomatoes with teeth/claw marks in them yesterday, and wondered what was getting them. Then today, caught 2 squirrels red handed! Dang!!

So I put a few tactics out that I hope will help -
* cut up some tin foil pans and tied them with string to the tomato supports hoping they'll make some noise and the movement might deter them
* cut up some Irish Spring soap and stuck skewers in them, then place around the perimeter of the tomatoes (heard they don't like the smell). Hubby is wondering when the soap deteriorates from rain, will residue going into the ground harm the plants?
* sprinkled red pepper flakes all around the plants
* made a mix of hot pepper sauce and vicks vaporub and coating the foil with it, as well as along the top of the fence which borders the garden.

I also plan on making a scarecrow. Surely (hopefully) one of these will help scare away the varmints!! As last resort, hubby heard about making a trap with plastic pipe - guess you close one end off and fill the bottom with water, then you coat some peanut butter in the center of the inside of the pipe and lean the pipe up against the fence. The squirrels go in for the peanut butter, but can't get out - and, unfortunately, drown :( I really don't like that part, but I also really hate to see our tomatoes go to them instead of us!! Hopefully the other things will keep them away and they won't end up in the trap.

Anyone else having problems with the squirrels in other things besides corn?


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The things you are trying will probably help. The trap may be effective in that you catch the ones that are developing a taste for tomatoes. That said once there is a bit of a void another squirrel will move in but maybe not know about tomatoes.

My opinion is that the best defense against squirrels is a dog and a cat. They won't catch them but they will keep them away.

You can use regular squirrel traps but you need to relocate them at least 10 miles away from what I've read.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 7:59PM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

We have both a cat AND a dog, gjcore. But we do have the garden area fenced off, so guess that's what makes the squirrels feel it's safe. The bunnies feel safe in our yard, too. The dog has given up chasing them off most of the time, and the cat half way tries, but they're too big and fast for her.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 9:44PM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

I should send Percy over.
He LOVES keeping vigil on the squirrels!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 12:32AM
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Are they ground squirrels or tree squirrels? not that it matters....

When you see that they've started to eat a tomato, leave it - they'll return and gnaw on the same one again and again. If you throw it away, they find a new one.

I spoke with a guy yesterday who said that his ground squirrels were digging up his beets.....

I have a hole under my porch that is some sort of ground squirrel condo - I try to block it off, they keep opening it up. So I set a rat trap using sliced almonds as bait - last year, I caught 6. This year, so far, 3.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 11:46AM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

I guess they are tree squirrels, David, as I see them running around in them all the time. Interesting idea about leaving the tomato! I picked up the one they dropped and put it in the compost - maybe I'll fish it out and leave it out for them. It's way too big for them to carry up over the fence and into the trees. Maybe I'll set it outside of the garden for their token treat instead of inside - as I would really like to keep them totally out of there!

I made my scare-squirrel ;) last night - took a pair of my old jeans and an old shirt and hat, stuff newspaper into plastic bags, and stuff it with those. Funny thing - I left it sitting in one of our chairs. After we watched tv in another room, we came into where it was and our cat was curled up on it's lap asleep!! LOL. Not too scary for her, hopefully it will for the squirrels though!

I quickly set it out in the garden this morning, and am going to fix it a little better this afternoon so it won't blow apart, etc.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 2:45PM
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LOL @ "our cat was curled up on it's lap asleep!!"

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 4:46PM
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Yesterday I saw a squirrel carrying a fat carrot from the vegetable garden, across the yard, to his secret hideout.
He had neatly chewed off the carrot tops and dug the carrot up and the carrot was about half as big as the squirrel. This was my first time growing carrots and I let them get too big, they are pretty bitter and soapy tasting, so he can have them, but he'd better leave the beets and tomatoes alone!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 6:06PM
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I think it does matter if it is tree squirrels or ground squirrels, altho' a half-eaten tomato is a half-eaten tomato. If they are in the trees at any time, they are tree squirrels.

The ones around here are mostly interested in the walnuts across the road but they discovered the "everbearing" strawberries I planted in the backyard . . ! I followed David's advice from several years ago, altho' I didn't buy a "supersoaker" water gun. I just went after them with the nozzle on the hose.

Around & around the tree, we went! He will make a dash along a limb and leap into the neighbor's tree at some point - I try to be ready for that! Exercise like this keeps me from setting a rat trap in the strawberries . . . It resulted in several weeks with no squirrel in the berries, however.

I am not sure that your scarecrow will work. I doubt if a squirrel is smarter than your cat, who probably just thought that you'd put a pillow out for him to sleep on. A stuffed cat might work. I have used that to keep sparrows out of newly planted garden beds. It worked to move the cat frequently, keep it half-hidden but in view. Maybe a stuffed dog would work better with a squirrel.

Oh, and to contrast with ground squirrels -- they will eat every plant near their burrows. They'd probably eat the tomatoes AND the tomato plant!


    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 8:28AM
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I used to have 8 or 9 squirrels at a time in my yard, digging and stealing like crazy. I bought a squirrel trap, and trapped several and took them down to the wildlife sanctuary outside Brighton. My next door neighbor hates squirrels even more than me and she borrowed my trap and went on a mission. She has had the trap two years, traps about 30 each summer, and keeps the population pretty low now. The traps are about 40 dollars I believe, and doesn't hurt them, So it's worked pretty good for us!


    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 11:10AM
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