Thanks for the report of success and kudos to MrClint for the idea.
I make a cylinder with the aviary wire, and slip it over the branch that has the fruit. When I cinch up the ends it looks like a pillow case. I use wire on one end but for easy access to the fruit I’m starting to use clothespins on the other. Squirrels can’t get their mouths through the aviary wire (to take a bite) but with regular chicken wire they can pull the fruit over and nibble away.
Look at the first photo. On the left side you’ll see a cylinder that hasn’t been cinched up yet.
Also…I have an ultra dwarf Pink Lady that was short enough so I could make a cylindrical cage and lift it over the tree…it looked like a fortress. There were six apple ripening on the tree, I watched them grow with pride for a month. Then one day there were five. next day four, then three, then none. Too late I found the hole where a squirrel had dug under the bottom of the cage (concrete form wire with chicken wire wrapped around it and over the top). The ground was nice and soft and slopping where I had cultivated it to be able to level the cylinder…the squirrel is probably still laughing about that. Next time I’ll use some hardware cloth and dig it in around the base.
I was seeing some damage on my apples for the first time this year and thought it was birds. Then I noticed a grey squirrel (we dispatched one last year) scampering out from between the houses for a few days and decided to try the screen bags (fiberglass–no Al screen at our hardware store…).
The results from this morning:
I’ve only used metal screen, can’t speak to using other materials. Works well enough for our suburban squirrel population. They seem to hunt for quick easy meals for the most part. A large buck squirrel that makes its living in the woods might make short work of even metal screen. In that case, I would consider putting a glob of tanglefoot around the stem area of the pouch. A squirrel will soon regret getting sticky tar on their thieving little mitts. The idea is to make them work real hard or think that it’s a trap.
If you try the tanglefoot I hope you can set up a camera with it. I’d like to know if the squirrel would actually stick it’s paw into the sticky stuff, or try to jump/swing over it.
If you put tangle foot on the stem area would you simply wash it off at harvest? Would it be hard to get off of your fruit?
If you have a tip bearing fruit, such as poms, you can just snip the branch tip if it gets all sticky. I haven’t had to go to that extreme yet. Apparently our suburban squirrels are really just opportunists. But they will make fast work of standard BirdBlock.
Thanks Mr clint. I am pretty used to some serious squirrel and bird pressure so I’m trying to learn as much as possible. The first year I tried the metal mesh bags over a zip lock it worked great. The next year the squirrels were ripping the bags off but that was in austin I haven’t tried them yet here in Dallas but I will. I may try the tangle foot if I need to.
Those fruit look great, Annie! Great work!
Thanks for the great advice! It looks do-able and potentially successful, against small and large pests alike! By the way, Annie and Clint, and anyone else who cares to chime in, did you use standard (i.e. usually for paper) staples, or did you invest in hardware staples for this job? I’m hoping to try this to protect a variety of my fruit this year from local critters and am concerned that staple guns don’t usually provide an opposing side for the staples to be crimped against, I think with the idea in mind that they would usually be embedded in the material being stapled, which would obviously not be the case here. What worked for you?
Yes, some of my chicken wire cages rusted up quite quickly. Where can I buy the stucco wire? (Western Wisconsin/St. Paul, MN area). I’ve gone through hundreds of dollars of the stuff, so like it to last for a while.
You are correct you need a handheld stapler with a backer. They are easier to use in the tree anyway. I use regular staples and they are just fine.
Thank you, Drew! I am hoping to start this project post haste, so it’s invaluable to have field-tested feedback before I secure my materials!
I buy the stucco wire (also called stucco netting) at Home Depot. The manufacturer is Davis Wire. I’ve seen two types, 20 gauge wire (the one I buy…hole size same as chicken wire, 1-1.5") and a thicker gauge (17 gauge I think) that has larger holes, too large to use against gophers. Make sure you get the rolls without building paper, or you’ll be spending time removing and disposing of it. Here’s a link: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Davis-Wire-36-in-x-150-ft-Steel-Stucco-Netting-59234/202094282.
I’ve seen a different brand at Home Depot, the wire wasn’t as shiny as the Davis Wire, and didn’t look as well finished (I’m not sure if that matters). Stucco wire/netting is manufactured to meet certain construction standards so it’s higher quality.
I’m going to make up some of the screen wire baskets using eyelets/grommets so they will be easier to open and close(and reuse) than if fastened with staples. I’m also doing that so I’ll be able to secure the baskets to the EMT poles I mentioned earlier. That way the squirrels won’t be able to ripe the baskets off the tree, breaking small branches in the process.
If the screen material stands up to a hungry squirrel, it’s much lighter than the aviary wire baskets I’ve made, so easier to handle, and more forgiving on the tree itself.
Thanks, clem, for that info.
I’m so glad to see folks reporting on their experiences.
I was thinking of using copper tube-formed mesh, kind of like slipping the fruit into a sock and securing it. Rodents are supposed to hate chewing the stuff.
I don’t know if I’ll need it this year with what fruit made it through the late freezes, but I’ll report back if I try it.
I’ve been looking for mesh like this for years. I was even thinking of making my own chainmail. But I’m sure a squirrel could easily gnaw through this mesh, so it would have to be distasteful enough, or cut the squirrel’s mouth in a way to override the squirrel’s desperate need for the ripening peach inside this copper mesh tubing. I’d like to find a smaller quantity and try this out.
People definitely sell smaller quantities. Try Amazon and E-bay for the best prices usually.
It is thin, but folks say it’s strong. But I agree it must be about the rodents not liking it, because surely they could break it.
It does have very small holes, so it should also be good for insect control. Not as small as screen, though. A review guessed they were .25 inch. Good for stupid stink bugs and JBs, so that helps me out a lot
What kind of fruit you plan to protect?
I wonder the holes on the mesh may be to large. My concern is that moths ( codlling, OFM, plum curculio) could lay eggs through those holes. They are my major concern.
I figure I’d still have to spray for those with the mesh, yes.
But the JBs, in particular, here come in absolute droves, so I’d like to keep them off the fruits without even having to wait for insecticide to kick in.