Protecting Fruit Trees From Squirrels and Other Pests

Furry squirrel on a tree eating a big red apple.
What You'll Need
Hot pepper sauce
Dish-washing detergent
Spray bottle
Garden hose with fertilizing sprayer.
Coyote and cat urine
Garlic oil
Metal sheeting
Insecticidal soap
Noisemakers like pie pans

If you have fruit trees, you are bound to have pests. Although squirrels may be fun to watch, they are no fun when they damage your fruit harvest. Unfortunately, fruit trees attract a wide range of pests and it is essential to come up with pest management plans that are relevant to your particular pest problem.

TIP: Expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Proper pruning, fertilizing, and watering will keep fruit trees healthy. Healthy fruit trees are better able to fend off insect pests than sickly trees."

Combine Control Methods

While many gardeners swear their method is the best for chasing squirrels and pests away, the best deterrents involve a combination of methods. For instance, keep squirrels at bay by allowing your dogs to go on orchard patrol, while also using an organic solution such as hot pepper sauce. When faced with several deterrents, dogs, nets, cats, pepper spray, obnoxious odors, and so on, squirrels may feel overwhelmed and leave your trees alone. Combine squirrel deterrents with deterrents for insects that are attracted to your trees, like natural predators and organic insecticides.

A Combination Plan - As a squirrel deterrent, mix hot pepper sauce with a cap of dish-washing detergent in a spray bottle or fertilizing sprayer attached to your garden hose. Spray your fruit trees with it and reapply after each rain. Attack insect pests by providing a watering hole for beneficial predators like frogs, lizards, praying mantis, and ladybugs. Natural predators, including the family pets, are great deterrents for pests. Consider a sacrificial orchard. Plant a few fruit trees away from your orchard and let the squirrels, birds, and pests have their fill of those trees. The ease with which they can access those fruits can often deter them from the harder-to-reach fruits on the trees you've sprayed, netted, and erected squirrel guards around.

Pest Control Is a Year-Round Job

Squirrels hibernate, and insects often only emerge during certain seasons, but deer and birds are year-round problems. Your pest control efforts should be year-round too. Plan your pest control efforts to deter all your insect and animal pests before the fruit becomes such a strong attraction.

Plant deer resistant plants like garlic, basil, leeks, onions, and rosemary. Most herbs are repellent to deer and may deter many insects as well. Traditional deer repellent recipes will help deter both deer and squirrels. Rotate and change up the recipe every month. Begin your control efforts early in the spring, before there's fruit, and continue them throughout the fall harvest in order for your efforts to be most effective.

Pest Control for Squirrels

  • It's simple but effective, recruit your cats and dogs
  • Pepper sauce
  • Coyote and cat urine at the base of trees or sprayed on limbs
  • Garlic oil

TIP: Susan suggests, "Wrap a thin sheet of metal that is 5 inches wide around the bottom of fruit tree trunks. This will keep good climbers out of your trees."

Pest Control for Insects

  • Invite natural predators to your orchard
  • Bring in praying mantis, frogs, lizards, ladybugs, and wasps
  • Insecticidal soap

Pest Control for Birds

  • Netting
  • Scarecrows
  • Noisemakers like pie pans tied to tree limbs
  • Welcome cats on your property and feed them near your trees

TIP: Susan advises, "Birds do not like shiny things. Try hanging old CD's from fruit trees until after you harvest your fruit."

Using these tips will surely help deter squirrels and other pests. Your trees will be protected and bearing fruit for years to come!