Squirrel killer


#21

Everything is nuts this year for me on the critter front. Check out this huge Shizuka apple, the yellow jackets ate it down to the core:

All that is left is a paper-thin skin and the core. I am trapping them heavily now, many hundreds trapped but more keep coming.


#22

Nothing too out of the ordinary. I looked back at my journal and see it was 17 degrees on 4/13 and we had 4-5" of snow on the 17th.

In '18 we had 13 degrees on 4/4, and 12 degrees on 4/7, but then on 9/18 I harvested the first of several big black tubs of McIntosh that year.

IDK, it’s just disgusting. No acorns and my fields are in CRP rather than corn/bean rotation. Probably has a lot to do with it.


#23

Well, we don’t have many acorns either after the squirrel population exploded with the fine crop we had last year. This is when they go completely freaky as some instinct that famine is coming clicks in or just the unfulfilled need to bury acorns leaves them like a junkie without a fix.


#24

What do you use to trap them?

I’ve never seen wasp damage like this year.


#25

Any reusable trap works well, I bought some on Amazon. I fill with whatever is handy in the way of sweet/fruity. Whatever I put in I trap a ton.


#26

Jerry,

I’m curious why you think your electric fence is not working for the coons? How are they getting around it, going under/over it without getting shocked?

The reason I ask is that I’m getting ready to attach a hot wire to my deer fence to try to stop coons and possums next year.

This year, even with most of the peaches froze off, there for a while we were losing about 30 peaches/night to coon/possum damage. When they scratch them off the trees, we squish them the next day, so we can keep an accurate count of the damage. One night they knocked off 80 peaches. Of course this doesn’t count the damage they did to the sweet corn.

I destroyed about 25 of them in a month and that slowed the damage down a lot. But I’d like to just try to fence them out with electric, if possible. It’s a lot of work to trap them out. At one point I had 6 trap sets out, plus a couple cage traps. It was a lot to manage.

It’s a lot of work every year, and they always do a tremendous amount of damage until I can get them trapped out. The problem is people from the city bring out live trapped animals and release them near the orchard. I’ve had two customers admit this to me. My employee said he saw someone releasing a possum close to the orchard one day this summer while he was driving home. So it’s a never ending battle. I trap one, and someone releases two more.


#27

I’ve never really understood how the commercial orchards don’t get snowed under by squirrels, birds, raccoons, etc.


#28

Unless you are getting reasonable rain, then you want one with a built in umbrella. I buy the reusable Victor traps without bait included in enough quantity to get them for around $3 per. I’d like to know what baits Scott finds equally effective as the 2-1 water apple juice concentrate I use. I’d like something less expensive but haven’t found a cheaper substitute. Mixing it with a little dish detergent and citric acid does help it stay attractive longer if your traps aren’t filling up right away. Also much easier to clean.


#29

Commercial orchards do get snowed under. It’s not just mine. I have a pretty good friend who has a much larger commercial orchard than mine. He was noting that coons/possums were especially bad for him this year also. Coon/possum poop everywhere. Eating blackberries, peaches, etc. I think he said one year he killed 7 in one day. He also has a deer fence.

Fortunately, squirrels aren’t much of a problem in commercial orchards. Generally the trees are too low for squirrels to feel comfortable nesting in, or even hiding in. Plus the acreage is large enough they have to traverse a lot of ground unprotected and unable to scamper up a large tree in case they see danger (like hawks). Frequently the grass is tall around the border, which they also don’t like because they can’t use their superior vision to their advantage. Lastly the gray squirrel imports don’t like it much in the country. They thrive in cities, where they are adapted to places where there are few predators. Here, red squirrels mostly live in the country, and they don’t seem to be nearly as prolific. They move slower too, so I expect their metabolism is slower, so they don’t need as much food as the gray squirrels. This probably keeps them from starving to death as much in years where food is scarce.

Birds are also a serious problem for commercial orchards. They destroy bushels and bushels of fruit from bird pecks. In the past, we’ve even netted trees, which is a huge endeavor for a commercial orchard. I can’t remember how many nets I have, but it’s a bunch. You have to move the nets off trees which were picked and move them to the next ripening trees. This year I carried a 12 gauge shotgun in my truck. Some evenings, I shot them out of the window for about 30 minutes, out of the blackberries.

Here’s a story about a decade old of a farmer in New Zealand who used explosives to kill birds. The story set off a backlash from some people, but anyone who has put in the time and expense to grow fruit, then have it destroyed by wildlife can sympathize with the man’s frustration, even if they disagree with the methods he used. I remember reading about the story at the time, and he was battling about 100,000 birds.

I disagree with some portions of the article. Some bystander in this article was quoted as saying starlings did not cause widespread damage to the man’s orchard, and are beneficial to pastoral farming. In fact, starlings are a huge problem for some orchards, and are drawn to any grain to eat it. They can also be a carrier for a disease called transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE). A corona virus which is lethal to piglets. It kills about 95% of them, if it gets in the herd.


#30

Yes you are right that some kinds take on rain more… so some types do work more well than others.

I did switch to a different brand for that reason. The yellow ones that look like a bee hive in shape have too many holes in them (also the ones I had were made of plastic not highly UV-resistant). The latest ones I got have a UV generator to supposedly attract more bugs, but I think that is a waste of money… but the traps are very durable and don’t take on much rain so I am still using them. I just re-ordered some more and got these:

$3 per trap and no holes for rain other than the entrance holes.

For bait I take whatever I can find that is cheap and sweet. I had a lot of fruit partly eaten by wasps that I threw in, we had some syrup nobody was using, etc. I make it very sweet (like apple juice with no dilution) as the rain will dilute it. Add vinegar if it needs to be more sour (apple juice sourness is my rough goal). Also when I dump them out I don’t clean them, they stink but the wasps don’t seem to mind.


#31

I enjoyed and agreed with most of what you wrote, but I’m a bit confused by these two sentences. You’ve always assumed that people from towns have brought squirrels to your location, which I wonder about, since they are a native species in your state. Also, around here in areas with plenty of homes there are also many predators of squirrels, including ample red foxes. Even coons likely grab babies from nests when they can.

How do you know your squirrels are city slickers- the soft hands, or their condescending manner?:wink:

I don’t care if it is a native, I consider it a highly invasive species.


#32

Well that’s the $64,000 question for me. As seen in the picture above, they are inside the wires so I assume maybe the inexpensive fencer I have just isn’t powerful enough?

I’ll readily admit I know precious little about electric fencing short of hooking it up to make it work.

I’m willing to buy a bigger more robust unit if it will get the job done.

Here’s what I used.

So you can see it’s just about the smallest one the farm store had. I want to say $40ish.

So I don’t know if you can zoom the picture, but it says “Controls up to 4 acres - .15 Joule”

It energizes the wires, but maybe not hot enough?

This year I bought a bunch of these plastic step-in posts that have spacing as follows from the bottom up: 4.75", 2.75", 4.25" and 4.75".

So I stopped the wire on the 4th rung which was around 16-17" off the ground.

When it became clear to me that the fence wasn’t slowing them down much, I added a second fence inside the first, and on a couple trees I even went as far as to set posts closer to the trunk and wrap a piece of chicken wire around it and attach a hot wire.

But it’s just maddening. They get up there and break limbs too. Just getting too fat off my peaches!!!

Anyway, I guess I’ll try a couple things differently next year. Maybe a bigger fencer, and maybe go back to the steel posts with insulators so I can get the wires tighter. These plastic posts bust bend when you try to get the next level tight and if ya do, it’ll loosen the strand you just did so…


#33

Same here. Many acorns fell immature in early July this year so not many left on the trees. Hoping it will reduce the population next year. Also it’s a good idea to start trapping in January before mating starts.


#34

i notice when I hike in local nature preserves large enough to have fox i seldom see squirrels. When I drive through my residential area I constantly see them. Same thing for yellowjackets and some bird species. Wherever they nest safely they come to my yard for dinner.


#35

When a suburbanite starts to kill their squirrels with a pellet gun, I bet they adjust in a hurry.

I have noticed what you are talking about, but those that have aggressive dogs probably have more cautious squirrels. I’m not sure if my neighbors have tamer squirrels that I do but I bet they do, even though certain predators are plentiful around us.


#36

When we first moved to our home on a creek (pronounced crick), I saw a few tree-type squirrels and chipmunks, but I think my cats have run them away. I don’t see any of those squirrels anymore, and only occasionally do I see a chipmunk. The bigger problem, here, was with the ground squirrels and pocket gophers. And the numbers are so many that trapping was out of the question. I ended up making some bait stations, like these in the link, and filling with Ramik. I put the bait stations out early in the Spring, during the mating season, and before the grass begins to grow and there is anything else to eat. It seems to have worked pretty well on the ground squirrels, and the bait may have gotten some of the voles/pocket-gophers too. I believe the squirrels die in their holes, so that none of the predators are harmed (by eating poisoned rodents). I don’t see the ground squirrels at all anymore, and though I do still have some pockets gophers, they have moved away from where the bait stations are located.

Here’s the link for homemade bait stations I use: https://youtu.be/IXfqSXoeFmg


#37

I wish I had your method when I lived in Topanga Canyon in S. CA and grew fruit for my father. At that time the only thing I knew of to protect from ground squirrels was a full and partially buried chicken wire cage. That effort I only deemed worthwhile when protecting a particular herb.


#38

That’s because it’s incorrect. I mistakenly thought that gray squirrels were not native to the U.S. Error on my part.


#39

Jerry,

I’m not an expert either on electric fencing, but I’ve been reading quite a bit about it lately.

Most experts seem to suggest bigger is better for fence chargers. It sound like yours is pretty puny (no offense intended). I think they over-rated their fence charger. It may work for 4 acres under very ideal conditions, but who knows how they “Controls”? I had planned to go with a 2.5 joule fence charger (3 stored joules) which the company said covers 25 acres. But after reading a lot of literature, plan to go with a stronger 5 joule charger (6.3 stored joules).

You might get an electric fence tester to see how many volts your fence is putting out. Or you could just touch it and see if it jolts you? :wink:

Also I can’t tell from your set up, but you know you don’t want all your wires hot, right? In other words, you alternate “hot” wires with “grounded” wires. That way when the critter crawls up the fence, or crawls through it, they are touching an hot wire, as well as touching a well grounded wire, which should give them a good jolt. But I really think the biggest problem is your fence isn’t delivering enough juice to the fence. If conditions are dry, they may not be getting much, if any, shock at all.

Make sure your ground rod is deep in the ground, and keep the ground rod watered in the driest part of the summer, unless it’s in a naturally wet spot.

Here is a good write-up on installing electric fence, if you have time to read it.


#40

Thanks for the link, and I think you’re right about it just being way undersized. Next year…