How to Protect Trees From Squirrel Bark Stripping
Tree squirrels are notorious for bark stripping, which is not the same thing as eating it. Instead, they strip bark to access the sweet phloem tissue underneath. Most often, tree squirrels will strip bark off young trees in the early summer, leaving them vulnerable to insect infestation and fungal pathogens. While the act itself won’t harm the tree itself, it will stunt the growth of the tree and cause malformation of the wood.
Indicator trapping is an effective way to kill insects that cause pest problems in fruit and nut trees. These pests can be controlled with traps placed 8 to 10 feet from the tree’s trunk. The best time to place the traps is during early summer, around July 15, or when blossoms start to appear on a fruit tree. If you want to protect your trees from indicator trapping, here are some tips:
For the trap top assembly, you can buy 18-inch-by-16-inch aluminum insect screening. Often, you can buy large rolls of this insect screening, which are 36 inches long and 100 linear feet long. Start by folding the screen’s edge into a cone-shape. Then, staple a piece of wood lath of 3/4-inch squares on each side of the folded screen. Don’t use twine or a hammer because it can damage the trap base.
A common way to protect your trees from squirrels’ bark stripping is to place mothballs in the attic or around flowers. These are effective at repelling squirrels, but the scent lingers only for a short period of time. Another option is to plant a plant that has a skunk-like odor, like cleomes. If your trees are susceptible to stripping from the bark of other plants, plant cleomes in their areas.
It’s important to remember that mothballs contain pesticides and shouldn’t be ingested. The chemicals can make their way into places they’re not supposed to be. Because they’re easy to carry, squirrels are unlikely to eat the mothballs. If you use mothballs in your yard, follow the label instructions. Never mix the active ingredients of mothballs with other chemicals, as they may be consumed by other animals.
Keeping squirrels out
Keeping squirrels out of trees is a relatively simple process, but it is important to be aware of the species that live in your area. Generally, squirrels are a nuisance, but they can be useful. Squirrels can eat fruit, bird seed, and tree bark, as well as build nests in your attic or crawlspace. This is because they spend most of their day foraging for food.
One way to discourage squirrels from chewing on your tree is to place noisy items in the area. Using balloons and Mylar strips can be effective. However, if a smart squirrel decides to ignore these objects, mothballs are also an effective deterrent. Make sure to change these items every few days to ensure that the squirrels don’t get used to the noise. Aside from preventing squirrels from eating your tree, you can also keep them away from your yard by avoiding food scraps.
Keeping pocket gophers out of trees
One of the best ways to keep pocket gophers out of your trees is to apply a bait solution. These substances are extremely attractive to gophers, so the best way to keep them away from your tree is to place the bait in two or three locations, and then monitor the area for signs of activity. Alternatively, you can place a small amount of bait in one spot, then cover it with sod. The bait will entice the pocket gophers, and they will eventually cover it.
If you want to get rid of pocket gophers completely, then the best method is to use traps. If you have a small area to cover, you can use solid trigger pan traps, which are particularly effective. Make sure to place the traps in both directions so that they are placed in a convenient location. You can also use post-hole diggers to dig small holes, so you can get a full range of trap placements.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.