How to Control Squirrels: Squirrel Problems & Prevention Tips

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Deer can be a problem more so in rural areas or near forest preserves. Squirrels, on the other hand, can be a "nutty nuisance" in the city, suburbs, or the country and can be a major disturbance in terms of grass and lawn care. They will dig up your bulbs, eat all the birdseed you put out, dig holes in your lawn, chew a hole into your attic, make a mess of your garden, and even harass your dog. They can be very cute when they hold a piece of food in their little paws and delicately nibble at it sitting up in a tree. But don't let their cuteness deter you from taking precautions to protect your yard.

Here are answers to some typical questions you may have when you're trying to control squirrels:

What are the common squirrel species I should look out for?

The most common squirrels are the gray and black species. They mainly inhabit trees and build their 'nests' in the crotch of large trees. They may be cute to watch, but they can be annoying and destructive in their search for food and shelter. Since they can cause a variety of problems, it is difficult to give a one-yard control method that will work in every situation. As with deer problems, it is often best to implement several different approaches instead of relying on one.

How do I prevent squirrels from hurting my home and landscape?

The first thing to do is to try to prevent access to the area they are disrupting. If they are getting into the attic or storage shed, try removing any overhanging branches that may give them easy access to the structure. The same is true for any decorative trim. If they are gaining access across utility or phone lines, there are cone-shaped shields that can be attached to the wire. Some of the commercially-available squirrel repellent products leave a sticky residue on ledges to discourage their entry into an attic or other structure. Other products are placed inside the structure and work to keep the squirrels outside.

What do I do if squirrels are on the inside of my house or walls?

If squirrels do gain access to an attic or other structure, they can do a lot of damage. They will rip up furniture, gnaw at windowsills, rip apart curtains, and generally make a mess of everything. They are most active in the early morning (4 a.m. to 7 a.m.) and late afternoon (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.). They can be heard scurrying about at these times, causing mischief and mayhem. It may require the use of a live trap in these situations. Any animal removal or control services can assist in the removal process. Live traps may be rented from rental companies or villages. Relocation should occur at least five miles away from the point of capture to prevent them from coming back. Be sure to release them in an area where they will not become a problem for another homeowner. Pick a forest preserve or natural area and release them there.

How do I stop squirrels from eating birdseed from my birdfeeders?

Devouring all the birdseed that is put out for the birds is one of the squirrels' main offenses. They are voracious eaters and will gorge themselves on the feed, especially if the mix contains sunflower seeds. There are many squirrel-proof feeders available, but they are usually relatively expensive. Prices can reach more than $75 and are usually purchased by serious bird lovers. Try mixing pepper-based additives into the seed mix to deter squirrels (this will not affect the birds).

Is there a way to make squirrels stop digging up my landscape?

Another destructive activity squirrels love to do is dig up grass and feed on landscape or vegetable garden plants. Pepper sprays can be used in these situations. Some other sprays have a foul odor or taste, which will act as a deterrent. Check the labels of these yard care products to make sure they can be used on edible plants.

Visual repellents are usually not very effective. Squirrels normally ignore them. To prevent them from digging up garden bulbs in your yard, place chicken wire over the area. Bury the fence about an inch underground. The plants will grow through the holes in the fence, but the squirrels cannot get through the netting. Be sure the holes are at least an inch in size to allow the plants to grow through them.

Squirrels can be entertaining, but more often than not, they are a nuisance. They are part of the environment - it is impractical to attempt to eliminate them. So, reducing the amount of yard and house damage they cause and putting up with a certain amount of their "nutty" lifestyle is the best scenario. And they are pretty cute!

For more information on controlling and preventing the squirrel population in your environment, or any other lawn, tree or pest related questions, contact Spring Green today!