We will only use the glue trap if nothing can stop the rat from coming into the yard because of the health hazard. The squirrels would leave right after they eat some fruits, so I actually don’t mind that much. They can’t bring anything out the way the fence works now. The rats would stay all night and I have to clean up the next day. However, there are some lizards in the yard. They would die under the heat if get caught and I don’t release them in time. Yesterday, the bird was lucky that I heard the trap snapped and released it right away. Thank for the very nice method, we will do it that way if we have to.
The rat got in but couldn’t find the easy way out.
It was hot and I was so tired, I hung the whole soap bars along the fence where it used to go in. I also dropped one old solar ultrasonic repeller near the Burgundy, and one near the place where it went to hide when I turned on the lights.
It started showing up on the screen near 10 pm so I turned the lights on and off like the night before. I noticed that it was going the opposite way on the trellis so I knew it was finding the way out. I gave up and went to sleep at 2 am and left some of the lights on, The poor thing might only have a tiny Splash pluot for the whole night. I think I would have gone nut too.
I don’t know where or how it got out so I will hang some more soap and set up the repellers where it may try to get in again. The soap will deter the squirrels too. On the side of the neighbor that have three dogs, I did asked her last year if the smell would bother the dogs, but she said it would be much better than the time the skunk sprayed them, I will use much less on that side. We will see if the rat come back tonight,
Thank you very much for all the suggestions, It was very nice to read them all, made me feel like I have your support, and that means a lot to me.
The last report: we finally got the rat at 3 am.
The rat never left the yard. I found the places where it tried to dig the way out, and where it hid during the day, and put a lot of soap bars around. It showed up on the screen about 10 pm so I started turning the lights on and off to observe. At about 12 am I was doing something for about 40 min, and there were 3 plums on the ground. I was mad, and started the hose fight whenever it came back to the tree and I saw one or a few leaves moved. After three hours of fighting the hose at the Burgundy tree, it finally gave up. It circled the havahart at the old hiding place and got in. We locked both ends with long staples. My husband released it at a far away place so I don’t think it can get back.
Some observations: 1. The unripe Sugar plums didn’t taste good yet, the rat had a few during the day but kept coming back to the Burgundy. 2. Nothing will stop a hungry animal, the repeller and four soap bars were at the Burgundy trunk. 3. The rat was a quick learner, after a few times it avoided the place with the motion-activated light. 4. The night cameras system is the main factor in capturing the rat.
Thank you for all you help and suggestions, I wouldn’t have the stamina to do it without them all.
Update: Rats usually travel in a pack, or at least in pairs. I noticed in the afternoon that there was another one. I was too tired so I just observed on the screen, and used the hose a few times at night. The next morning I knew the glue traps would work, but my husband got too upset just thinking about it. For his sanity, I got another three Havahart traps. We cleaned the hillside and mowed the lawn to minimize the hiding places. I didn’t want to spend time to fight the rat anymore, so we took all the fruits from the Burgundy tree. The rat didn’t like the Flavor Grenade that much, maybe too dry and it needed water. Other trees with fruits have the tulle on so it avoided those. At night on the screen, it was very satisfying to see the rat ran around the Burgundy tree trying to find out what happened to the fruits. I didn’t even stay up late. The rat got in the same Havahart trap the other one was caught, at the same hiding place. There has been no more rats in the yard since then.
Edit: We closed the traps during the day so no birds could get in. The rats totally ignored the Tomcat. Too much cheese and peanut butter attracted ants, and the rats avoided the trap until we cleaned up.
I hope these information would help anyone who can’t use the lead poisoning method.
No more droppings in the back yard. I can still hear some big animals going on the roof near midnight but no fruit damage.
After the rats are no longer there, the figs grow very fast so I think they ate a lot of figs along with the Burgundy plums. The Tiger fig tree is in the front yard, it will look weird with the tulle cover, so I hang the soap bars at the lower branches. So far the birds took only a few figs at the top of the tree, and the squirrel left it alone for now. Yes, he came back after the neighbor across the street caught a rat too. He got in the other part of the front yard so I will hang some soap bars at the other trees tomorrow.
There are so many figs, and they turn bad very quickly after ripen even in the fridge. We have to either dry them, or freeze then combine with other fruit when making jam instead of adding a lot of sugar. That thickens the jam nicely too.
It is very hot nowadays so running the dehydrator is a very bad choice. Since during the day there are only birds in the back yard and they somehow avoid anything covered with tulle, I dry the fruit under the sun. I sliced the fruit to about 3/8" and put them on a stainless steel rack. The rack is then put over an aluminum foil pan, to reflect and heat the bottom side too, and covered with tulle. The whole set up is on a water bath to prevent ants from getting in. The figs and sugar plums take the whole day to dry, and taste good. I put them in the Ball jar with the food grade desiccant, and seal with cling wrap under the lid. I shake the jar everyday to make sure the pieces don’t stick together. If they do I will get them out and dry them a little further in the dehydrator. Hopefully when my sister take them back to Missouri next month they will still be fine. She likes them chewy and not too dry.
Tiger (above) vs Garnsey figs
Tiger figs with soap bar
Garnsey fig slices
Sugar Plum slices
I was finally fed up with cleaning up all the broken branches and half eaten unripe fruits in the front yard. I put the 1/4" hardware cloth over the top of the fence and around the persimmon tree. They got in under the bushes and over big tree, which is on the neighbor yard, to avoid the open space I guess. They could climb on any thing with a bigger opening size. The original fence I made was only 3’ high to deter people from checking out the part of the front yard leading to the windows. My son can get over it with no trouble, but I figured out if they want to break in I can’t stop them anyway. I only fixed part of the fence, and made sure that even the human thieves wouldn’t easily get injured from the hardware cloth. I needed gloves, long sleeved shirt, long pants, and shoes while doing it. It was miserable on a summer day, even in the morning and late afternoon.
The result is a relative clean yard, the birds still mess up a little while eating the figs, but we have figs ripen now. The Tiger and Black Mission figs are from the front yard, and the Garnsey are from the back since the rats are gone.
Edit: my neighbor just told me that she hung the Irish soap bars over her compost and nothing disturb it since then.
I think we never can win the war with the hungry animals. After I put the hardware cloth on so the squirrels couldn’t climb over the fence, it chewed through the HDPE mesh fencing to made a hole at the ground level. This morning I saw a rabbit in the front yard eating figs on the ground. It ran to a corner and I couldn’t find it. I had to leave the gate open for a while so it could get out after I blocked the hole. Now I understand why the neighbor across the street kept asking me if the rabbits ate anything in my yard. They, including the birds, all like the Black Mission better than the Tiger figs because the skin is softer, even when unripe.
I picked some of the fruits in the front and back yard. We will take a break and go away tomorrow and let the animals enjoy the fruits. I hope you all have a nice weekend. Summer will be over soon.
I put in some new fencing to protect the other part of the front yard. It was so hot the last ten days not much could be done each day. The simplest way to keep the hardware cloth in place is with rebars. I painted them with Rust-Oleum. It was simple to stand a few rebars in an empty 5 gallon pot, wrap a very small piece of paper towel to the end of a stick and use it to paint the rebars. After they dried, flip them upside down and paint the other ends. Very little paint was wasted and no cleaning required when the stick was thrown away.
The difficult part happened when the fence was nearly finished. I walked out one day and saw a squirrel got out, ran across the street, and dropped a fig. Looking at the fig rolling down the street, I guess the mother part in me felt pity for it. I asked my husband if I could leave a few figs for it everyday outside, after finishing up the fence. He said I was asking for troubles. So I left one part of the fence low enough for the squirrel to get in and out to eat some figs, not easy though, but can’t bring any fruits out with it. It is still very hot and I can’t finish drying all the fruits anyway. In the fall I will finish the fence and plant some more roses to deter the squirrels.
Yesterday we picked nearly all the fruits from the backyard. I don’t want to make jam, unless they are overripe and can’t be dried, because of the added sugar. The Zinfandel takes a lot of time for removing the seeds but they turned out very good dried, thin skinned, sour and sweet. The small and not so juicy freestone plum/pluerry are easy to quartered. After they are somewhat dried, I use pointed scissors to snip in the middle to make them dry faster.
Seemed like no creatures could climb the 3 feet high, 1/4" opening hardware cloth. We didn’t lose any persimmons since then. When the fruits changed color, I put the tulle on for the birds. This is what we got. We bought the tree from HD as unknown non astringent, and as usual it turned out to be not really true. The fruits are very small compared to the Hachiya in the container, but much sweeter so we are very happy. They are both seedless.
Dropping the raw eggs down in gopher tunnels early this year stopped them. We have a lot of citrus trees on the route recovered and are fruiting. However, recently the rats are using the same tunnels. I didn’t put any eggs in since that may attract more rats to come. Last week before the rain, I put pavers on part of the sloped hillside that I can smell the rodents sometimes. Each piece weighs about 5 lbs and that is all I can handle safely. My husband can help me on the ground but not up there. There is no more rats. I will try to extend the cover for the whole slope, but will have to wait for a sunny period. The pavers are much heavier with water from the rain.
It is the citrus season in Southern California so the fruits are ripening. The backyard is always my sanctuary, especially when this is the saddest first week after the New Year that I remember.
Last year was pretty good. We finally had no squirrels in the backyard so we added some stone fruit and eight apple trees. My kids really like Jonagold and Pink Lady.
A lot of nurseries stopped selling citrus trees so I planted as much as space allowed. We have 22 out of 34 citrus trees presently fruiting with 15 of that in containers. The result is some weird fruits, some good and some bad. Next season I will put netting on some of the trees to prevent the bees from pollinating certain trees.
Yesterday there was an empty mandarin and some shells of the small snails on the ground. That would be a rat coming from the hill below. I put some hardware cloth on top of that section of the wall, where it chewed up the HDPE mesh again. If I ever start on a new yard I will use the 1/4" hardward cloth on everything.
These are some pictures of the fruiting citrus trees. The one in the containers were only planted one or two years ago. My favorite this year is the Yosemite Gold that recovered after I plugged the gopher route.
All the work from yesterday paid off. We trapped the rat right at the place it entered. Normally it would be impossible to trap them if there are fruits on the trees, even when they couldn’t get out of the yard. Last December we had to remove all the citrus fruits before they went into the traps. The fruits this year are not quite ripe yet so I guess the cut up pieces in the trap were more attractive.
The name of the tree is shown when clicking at the bottom of the picture.
Last summer I put up a lot of Irish soap bars on the fences and had no squirrels in the backyard.
I removed most of them before the rain season began. However, there were a few pieces that were too high so I just left them there because there were no fruit trees under.
During last week seemed like something was eating the soap bars and the citrus. I couldn’t trap it no matter what were in the traps, fruits and real foods. My husband was very much against the glue traps so I didn’t use them. It could be a rat, an opossum or a raccoon, from the way the fruit was peeled perfectly, or the two bats from the next door neighbor. I finally collected and threw away all the soap bars. The result was more citrus eaten. That was why we picked all the remaining citrus. Now the traps still have the foods and are closed sometimes so I guess it may be the opossum trying to take the food out. Something is moving on the roof at night. When it stops raining we may set up the camera system again.
Some of citrus fruits are still a little unripe but will sweeten after a few weeks on the counter. Our favorite this year so far are Yosemite Gold mandarin, and Cara Cara orange.
With the rain softened the ground, the gophers tried to come back on the hillside. It was hard to put the pavers on with the weeds and grass growing so fast everywhere. On a sunny day, I would be pulling weeds, carrying the bricks and pavers up the steps, redistributing the soil before putting the pavers in place. Last week my husband started working from home. When he had a break, he helped retrieving all the stuffs I dropped from the hillside, so I didn’t need to go up and down so many times. I got about two-thirds everywhere up the slope. It is too high and kind of scary when I don’t feel up to it, and we are running out of bricks and pavers so I think I will stop for now. I plugged up many tunnels. The result is well worth all the cuts and bruises: there is no trace or smell of rodents anywhere, and the view while sitting at the top is so peaceful and beautiful.
The next step will be putting 12 inch of 1/4" hardware cloth on top of the fence around the backyard to stop the rats before the vines on the trellis leaf out.
Today is the first time ever I have to prune the trees on the hillside so hopefully the gophers no longer come and eat the roots. I am planting some vegetables, with hardware cloth and netting when need to. The trees in the containers are doing very well. The sunshades disintegrated after a year so I just wrap the containers with heavy duty aluminum foil to reflect the sun light and keep the roots cool.
Sun Gold tomato
Flavor Punch pluot
Emerald Beaut plum
Atomic Red nectarine
Pink Lady apple
Arkansas Black apple
Granny Smith apple
With the rain in early April and then heat wave this week, it was very hard to have any work done in the yard. I finally put up the 1/4" hardware cloth on top of the fence around the backyard before the grapes leaf out a lot. If I smelled the rodents behind the fence in any section, I would use the 3’x10’ sections, otherwise it would be 2’x10’. That is the maximum length I can handle without any accidents. Hopefully I won’t see any rats in the backyard anymore.
Most of the citrus fruits removed more than six weeks ago turned out very good. I put them in single layer on open racks. The peels dried up but the inside was juicy and sweetened nicely. If some were still a little sour after peeling, I would leave them on the counter for half a day and they would be sweeter.
There is still one creature coming from the roof at night, the only way to stop it from eating the fruitlets is to make a loop out of a 1’x3’ piece of 1/4" hardware cloth around each trunk.
Last year the Elephant Hart plum in the front yard was full of flowers but had only a few fruits, so seemed like the Catalina plum with a lot of flowers in the same place couldn’t pollinate it. This year, when it started flowering, we bought a small Santa Rosa that still had some flowers and put next to it. There were a lot of little fruitlets now. The same Catalina had no flowers or fruitlets this year.
We got a lot of new apple trees before I realized some of them are self-sterile. We bought a Granny Smith to put in the apple section of the yard. Now that the Granny Smith no longer has flowers but the Fuji starts blooming and pollinating the new flowers, it would be interesting to see later if the fruits on the same tree would be different because of the different pollen.
We are also planting some veggies because we can’t go to the market often anymore. Hopefully we will have some later.
Last but not least, nothing to do with fruit trees, my favorite flowers: Fortnight lily.
Golden Italian Muscat grape
Elephant Heart plum
Sugar Twist Pluerry
Artic Star Nectarine
Cucumber and Eggplant
You should thin your stone fruits and apples.
Thank you for reminding me of the hardest job in growing fruit.
With a lot of rain until last week I couldn’t put the tulle on because the fungus will grow from the trapped moisture. Also there were so many kinds of bugs I have never seen before. I am sure there are many bug bites on the fruitlets. When I put the tulle on, hopefully soon, I will remove the damaged ones. Thanks again for your help.
Sorry. I didn’t mean to take you advice lightly. We had a big heat wave in 2018 and there were not many fruit left, so last year I didn’t thin anything and all the fruits were pretty small. This year there was a lot of rain and my Flordaprince peach that I got last year was loaded. I was happy just looking at them until suddenly the whole tree drooped, the fruits wrinkled, and the leaves dropped. I removed most of the fruits and the tree only started recovering now with new leaves. There are a few more peach trees and I am thinning them everyday. I still couldn’t bring myself to leave only one on each branch as it should be, but I am getting there. Thanks again for your help.
Sure, no problem. I certainly had my share of trees that I did not thin enough causing them to become stunted.
Everything I read online says mandarins, or citrus fruits in general, do not continue to ripen once picked. At least in my experience, they would sweeten with time, if picked not too green. About ten years ago my sister gave us a box of navel oranges from her tree. They were sour and we were supposed to juice them. They were actually too sour so I kept the box on the kitchen floor for a long time. One day my daughter tried it, and it was so sweet. Since then every year my sister saves all of her oranges for my daughter.
It is not the same with the ones in store. My other sister used to buy “Cutie” and left them on the counter for a few weeks, and they would be nice. The last few years, maybe they picked them too early, they were still sour so she stopped buying them.
These are the honey mandarins picked more than six weeks ago when we had the rat problem. They were very sour.
The leftovers today are ugly, hard and dry on the outside, but so juicy and sweet.
I was surprised that the Dancy mandarins were very good after a few weeks so they were gone already. The Gold nugget were too green when picked so they are still sour, and I don’t think they will improve later.
It is interesting that since I put the 1/4" hardware cloth on top of the fence there was no walking birds in the backyard. It was so hot I couldn’t put up the pinwheels on the trees and trellis like last year yet. The May Pride peach tree is only a few feet from the fence but there has been no bird mark on any of the fruits, and no bird perching on the hardware cloth. They would be on the chicken wire. I still hear them chirping on the neighbors’ trees. The sunlight does reflect on the hardware cloth and makes it a little shiny.
Too many birds in the neighborhood today. I cleaned the solar powered rodent repellers and put them on the trellis. I have them for a few years already, so some of the connections were rusted. After some Qtip and WD-40, they all worked again. In ground, they did nothing to the rodents. I saw a gopher popped up from a hole right next to the repeller once. They do stop the birds from perching close by and reduce the messy droppings. The draw backs are: they don’t work until the sun goes up, and I have to turn the one that needs cleaning off and on again in the morning. I think the neighbors hear them too, but I gave them fruits in the summer so no one complained. It is back to normal in the backyard now. The only bird still comes by is the hummingbird.