UACES Facebook Squirrels
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November 7, 2015


I made several cuttings from my gardenia in the spring. They were all six doing fine, set in pots. Yesterday I showed them to some relatives visiting and all were intact. Today I went out to water and one is cut off at ground level, two others are cut of several inches above ground. I first thought someone had actually cut them, but then I noticed on one, below the cut, it looked like something had been chewing on it. Any ideas what is going on?



 Sounds like a squirrel or other creature has had a nibble.  I would suggest you move the cutting s inside now for the winter.  Put them in a sunny window in a cool spot in your house and let them regrow.  They are too fragile to be planted outside this late in the year.  Wait for spring, after all chances of frost have passed and plant in either a larger container outside or in the ground.  


September 2012

QuestionI have deer or rodents eating my hosta, lantana, etc. What is the best way to get rid of them? I live in the woods of Bella Vista and have lots of wildlife around here, i.e., groundhogs, rabbits, deer, squirrels, fox, etc. I have lived here many, many years but this is the first year I have encountered this problem. Please help me save my plants!


AnswerDeer and animal problems are worse this year that ever! The dry weather has taken away much of their natural food source, and they are moving into yards and gardens that are being maintained. In your neck of the woods, I am surprised this is a new occurrence. Many of our gardeners up there are plagued with deer annually. Several options exist—deer fencing, electric fencing, and repellants. We do have a list of deer resistant plants on our website at: but the deer haven’t read it, and occasionally eat plants on the list, if they are desperate enough.

July 2012

QuestionThanks for the information on how to keep the worms from sweet corn; now please advise me how to keep the squirrels away.


AnswerIf only there was a solution for squirrels that was as effective as for corn earworms! Fencing, scare devices—a big dog, are all options, but squirrels are tenacious. Some gardeners trap the squirrels with hav-a-heart traps, but you would need a lot of traps in my neighborhood. Others have tried feeding the squirrels in an area away from the garden, but then you end up inviting more squirrels to your yard, and they may look at your corn as just extra food. Try a variety of approaches, and good luck!

March 2012

QuestionOne morning, after blooming for 4 weeks, all my pansy blooms disappeared...2 days later, all the stalks were gone. What kind of critter eats pansies? They were in a window box, that I have planted pansies in the last 4 years, where they lasted throughout the season. Also our horsetail (they are tall spikes of green with bands around them every inch or so) disappeared this winter, after surviving the last 2 winters outside. Could a creature have eaten these?


AnswerSince they are in a window box, I would have to assume squirrels or rats. Pansies can be eaten by deer, rabbits, squirrels and rats. Once they get the taste for them, they tend to revisit them annually. If the plants are eaten at night, I would bet rats did it, while squirrels would be more likely to eat during the day. You can put out a trap and see what you get. The horsetail (Equisetum) is a highly invasive plant. I can’t imagine it being eaten nor do I think it is gone. Give it time to green up this spring and my bet is it will return.

February 2011

QuestionWe have had a terrible time this year with squirrels eating the bark off our large, specimen Japanese maple tree (Bloodgood variety). They have stripped several large branches bare; we are concerned the tree may not survive. Is there anything we can do to ward them off or stop this? They may not actually be eating the bark, as we find lots of pieces of bark on the ground under each branch, but they do chew it off. Just in the last few days they have discovered a new smaller weeping Japanese maple elsewhere in our yard. The trunk of this one is now half bare.


AnswerFrom time to time squirrels, and occasionally raccoons will strip the bark off of Japanese maples. Usually the damage is more superficial, but it still looks pretty bad and is more damaging on young trees. For some reason this bark stripping tends to occur more in late winter to early spring. One theory—and that is all it is, is that female squirrels do this prior to giving birth to relieve the pain—I guess it takes their mind off of it! Another theory is that they use the bark in their nests or they are searching for food. Whatever the reason, once they start, they often come back and do more damage—much like a woodpecker has its favorite tree. Using a tree wrap in the area, hanging scare devices or spraying with a repellent can all give limited help. Using live traps and relocating the squirrels is another option. For the damage to the tree, clean up any loose bark and monitor it this growing season. If they have gone into the cambium layer it can cause some dieback on those branches and pruning will be needed. But wait and see what happens this spring.

February 2010

QuestionI transplanted some young nandinas and last summer something was eating the leaves. I suspected insects. However, just in the last week something has been eating tender stems off and even some branches of a young arborvitae. Would squirrels do this?


AnswerTo be honest, I have never known of anything to eat nandina's or arborvitaes (except bagworms for the latter). Squirrels, deer, raccoons, are among the possible culprits. If you notice new activity, sprinkle flour around the base of the plants and see if you can spot any tracks, then work on repelling or trapping them.

July 2007

QuestionI have seen squirrels eating leaves from the lowest limbs of my two hibiscus. Besides getting mad as an old wet hen, - I have moved the pots away from the banisters of my deck, now the pots are on a table with chairs moved out of reach to the pests. They are eating the leaves yet. Will they eventually ruin my plants? They are not blooming as well as they have been although I am careful to keep them watered well. I have seen them get the buds and eat them. What can I do? I do have a large brown rabbit in the yard - but have never seen it on the deck.


AnswerOnce squirrels find a new food, they continue to feed on it unless you can deter them. They can ruin your hibiscus and keep it from blooming. Several things to try--scare devices, hot pepper sprays, etc. I have had a few gardeners tell me they used Vaseline and hot pepper sauce mixed and applied it to the rim of the pots. When the squirrels sat on the edge of the pots they got the stuff on their paws and licked it then stayed away. Apart from physically barricading your plants, there is no sure fire way to prevent damage--so try a combination approach and see what works for you. Rabbits usually won't eat anything higher than they can reach, so I think the culprit is the squirrels.


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