Squirrel defense?

Using galvanized conduit on straight trunked fruit trees has worked well, but is not applicable for wide trees with forked trunks or side branches within the squirrels’ jump zone. Four foot wide galv. sheet metal to encircle wide/branched trees’ bottom 4 feet is not so cheap when you are trying to de-squirrel a bunch of trees. A commercial AC parts supply quoted me $40 for a slit pc. of 18" wide X 4 ft long conduit, which was the smallest conduit size to enclose a triple trunked loaded pear tree that was feeding squirrels each day. So, I used an office stapler, some tie wire, some 5 ft lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe, and about 6 ft. X 7 ft of 4 mil poly sheeting to make a vertical , snuggly wrapped poly semi-barrier. Will they claw/tear/eat up the thin poly the way that mice will to get in? Or, will they just opt for other nearby trees with smaller, less ripe fruit and w/o any barrier? If the poly works, the other wide pear trees will get covered also.

You can also buy a cheap plastic trash can and cut the bottom out and also make a vertical cut from top to bottom. Place the trunk in the center and duck tape the vertical cut. The squirrel or coon won’t be able to climb up the trunk.

Tony

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Today I plastic-wrapped and stapled more pear trees within climbing range of the “guarded/off limits” pear tree. Each has a slick, 4 ft. high, covering that flares wider on top as the plastic is stapled to side branches that fork outward/upward at about 3 to 4 ft… These coverings have no pipe or tie wire to give the plastic support or reinforcement, just poly wrapped and stapled to the tree. I have no problem with stapling pear trees, since on 3/4" to 1-1/4" pear branches with bark grafts I usually staple the slit bark flap snug to the inner wood making more bark-to-inner wood contact on both sides of the scion’s tapered tip. Less gap-less tissue growth need to fill in the gap before it dries/dies. The staples stay permanently in the tree with no obvious problem.

Since stapling the 4 mil poly on the bottom 4-5 feet of that group of pear trees that all have fruit, the daily squirrel routine of munching a few of those pears each day ended at once. The squirrels are still here, but not in those pear trees. In fact, today I noticed that they munched on several pears today on another tree about 125 feet away. It will get plastic wrapped tomorrow, as well as a couple nearby trees that can serve as ladders to reach those pears.

Last night at 10PM I went outside to walk the dog near the plastic-wrapped pear trees and saw a raccoon busy eating a fallen pear that had been on the ground for several hours. Earlier I saw it there and it was overripe and had a big hole eaten in it from the wasps that love harvesting the very sweet flesh on overripe pears in the trees. Instead of the coon just climbing right up the trees like before to “pick-UR-own” fruit, the plastic wrapping blocked it, so now it is just scavenging whatever falls on the ground. This AM I saw a squirrel 40 feet away from the wrapped pear trees, but still no fruit in the wrapped trees are getting chewed on by rodents. On the other hand, some wood peckers have started working on high up fruit that are over ripe.

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You need to hang some flash tapes to scare the birds.

Tony

I guess I’m just not good at planning. I knew the squirrels would be a problem for the harvest from my five grafted pecan trees, but I just never got around to doing anything like putting metal or the like around the trunks. Then this past weekend our last child was getting married and the Colby and Peruques were opening up. The Pawnees were getting there, but not yet ready even to pop the hulls by hand. I obviously had to deal with the wedding and had nothing handy to do about the pecans. Then I ran actoss a big roll of duct tape and started wondering if it was sticky enough to discourage the tree rats. Turns out it is! I wrapped all the trunks with inside-out duct tape and after being gone for the weekend it appears the pests did not even try to climb the tape covered trunks. Now I have time to hand pick the nuts that are ready, and even the Pawnees seem ready now. The trees are 11 years old and this will be the first decent harvest for all but the single Colby that has been producing for a few years. The dang squirrels were pulling the Pawnees off even though they were not ready for the husk to open. I was gone two days and it really appears that no damage was done to the tape wrapped trees during that time. The day I left I chased a red squirrel out of a Pawnee where he was having a fine time pulling off the unripe nuts before I wrapped the trunk, so I do believe the tape worked.

Are you saying squirrels’ claws can’t dig in to the plastic and run right up it? Seems like the plastic would have to be very, very hard and slick?

Chuck,
If I were you I would double the width of the tape band and smear it with Tangled Foot. Why not make it more unpleasant for squirrels?

Fruit - can you post pictues of your conduit? It always good to learn how others do to fight squirrels. They are know to bite through plastic and nets, though. They still have fruit from other trees to eat. Once they are hungry and starving, they can be nasty.

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Hambone, I put the tape on sticky side out. Mamuang, I figured this as a very temporary defense. If it ever rains again here it will likely be less sticky. I would add the Tangle Foot if I had a local source, and in that case the tape would probably be a good thing because I think I have read you maybe shouldn’t apply Tangle Foot directly to the tree? Anyway, the nuts are now really getting about ready. I can squeeze most of the hulls and the seams split right open. I have few enough nuts and trees that I can hand pick the nuts as soon as they get to that stage. I figure if the hulls split open easily, or are already split but the nuts just haven’t dropped, collecting them from the tree is pretty easy. I plan to try getting the higher nuts using my fruit picker. In future years when there are more nuts than this method makes sense for I’ll have to come up with better and longer lasting defenses and some way to get to the nuts on the ground before the varmints get them. However, for an “instant” easy way to at least slow down the tree rats, the duct tape worked darned well. I was thinking that even if they crossed the tape they’d at least pay with some fur, but they seem to have decided that wasn’t a good plan for them. There are so many wild pecans on my place that are loaded down with nuts, as well as many, many hazelnuts, that I guess they are finding plenty to eat without going after my good pecans.

Chuck,

Re. Tangle Foot, definitely not directly on the tree. Squirrels in your neighborhood are not desperate for they have many other food sources. Lucky you.

Very Clever!

I collected almost all the Colbys and Peruques today by whacking the nuts on the trees with my apple collector, but the Pawnees are still almost all in tight hull stage. I hope the tree rats continue to find other food and leave them alone. They will take the nuts before they are ready I know, because they took all my English walnuts way before they were ready to pick.

OK. I said it was temporary, and probably not completely effective, and that seems to be the case. The squirrels had gotten back into my Pawnee trees and knocked down a number of no-quite-ready nuts by yesterday. I tested the Pawnees late yesterday afternoon and very few of the hulls were ready to pop open. What a difference a night makes. This morning I tested the nuts on one of my Pawnees and the hulls opened easily. As there were a number of hulls on the ground around the tree I went ahead and picked the hundred or so I could reach from the ground. Work sure is inconvenient. I had to get in to the lab and am now hoping there are still a few nuts left on the other Pawnee when I get home.