I love squirrels. They are fun to watch scampering up and down trees, chasing each other, and even stopping to pose when I get my camera pointed at them.
I always brake when I see one running across the road, hoping they make it to the other side. I enjoy hearing their “barks,” especially when I walk too close to one of their nests.
But as cute as they are, there are several squirrel behaviors that cause concern for homeowners and gardeners, and that is when these little furry guys are labeled as “pests.”
Squirrels are chewers. They chew on tree and shrub bark, power lines, our eaves and shutters, and if they make their way into our attics, well, they can chew on our wiring. This chewing causes damage, power outages and even increases the risk of a fire if they damage the electrical wiring in our walls and attics.
I have some friends who got squirrels in their attic and they had to bring in traps to get them out. You will know if you have squirrels because you can hear them chewing and scurrying in the walls and ceilings above you.
Routinely inspect your eaves and other possible entries that squirrels might find access into your home and after removing them, block or plug up entry points.
Also, trimming back tree branches close to your home can lessen their chances of gaining entrance.
Other squirrel problems have to do with lawn, landscaping and gardens. Besides chewing, squirrels bury acorns, berries and seeds. They can dig holes in yards and flower beds, and although the damage may be minimal, it can be frustrating.
Home bird watchers, like me, take issue with squirrels when they feast on the expensive bird seed we purchase to feed our backyard feathered friends. Squirrels can consume large amounts and in no time, the feeder is bare.
There is an entire market of outdoor products that claim to be “squirrel proof.” Some claim that if you use sticky substances, stinky products like mothballs or hot pepper sauce, you can stop squirrels. Most experts will tell you those products are a temporary deterrent.
Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org