It’s so annoying having waited in anticipation for your apricots to ripen when all the while you’re thinking of sinking your teeth into their soft, sweet flesh and enjoying their succulent, juicy deliciousness, only to find the birds and squirrels have beaten you to it. So what can you do about it? How do you protect your apricot trees from squirrels and birds? Read on to find out!
What You'll Learn Today
- What Is A Good Natural Squirrel Repellent?
- How Do You Keep Squirrels From Going Up A Tree?
- What Is The Best Bird Deterrent?
- How Do You Repel Birds?
- Are Birds Afraid Of Aluminum Foil?
- How Do I Keep Squirrels From Eating My Apricots?
- What Scares Squirrels, Birds, And Other Animals?
- Are There Any Plants That Repel Squirrels?
What Is A Good Natural Squirrel Repellent?
Like most small rodents, squirrels have a fantastic sense of smell. In a way, that’s part of the problem, as they can smell those delicious, sweet, juicy apricots from a good distance away.
To use their olfactory prowess to your advantage, you can try adding powerful-smelling things around your garden, such as coffee grounds or adding capsicum to bird feeders. Surprisingly, the birds themselves can’t taste it, but the squirrels sure will.
A slightly different tactic is using things that squirrels are naturally afraid of, such as snakes, owls, and birds of prey.
Placing a rubber snake or several into the branches of your apricot tree and moving them regularly will help deter the squirrels.
Fake owls or self-flying kites that look like large birds of prey tethered in your yard are usually very effective, at least until the very clever squirrels learn that they are no real threat.
How Do You Keep Squirrels From Going Up A Tree?
To prevent squirrels from climbing the trunk of your apricot trees, you need to fit something around the trunk. This can be either a piece of aluminum sheeting or a specially designed squirrel baffle. These can be purchased on the internet.
The idea is that the squirrel cannot grip the smooth metal surface with their feet, as they simply slide off. This means that it can’t climb up the tree and take your fruit.
When fitting your metal sheet, there are a few things to remember.
- Firstly, the sheet must go all the way around the tree’s trunk.
- Secondly, it must be long enough so the squirrel can’t simply jump or stretch itself over it. You’d be surprised just how tall these creatures can make themselves!
The sheet must be smooth enough so that no grip can be achieved when climbing it. This means the way you secure the sheet mustn’t provide a foothold.
Fitting the Aluminum Sheeting
First, cut it to the required size by measuring the circumference of the tree where you intend to place it.
As squirrels can leap around 6ft, you must place the sheeting high enough up the trunk so they can’t just jump over it.
Aluminum is generally best for this purpose, as it has a good amount of give in it, but this type of barrier defense is only really suitable for very mature trees with a decent trunk circumference. For younger trees, try using a baffle instead.
Next, drill a small hole in each corner of the sheet and then thread some wire through the holes so you can tie it on firmly.
It’s really important not to damage the bark, as this can kill the tree. The sheet should be removed when the fruits have gone, and a replacement fitted each year.
Another option is to fit squirrel baffles to your apricot trees. These are generally cone-shaped devices that fit around the tree’s trunk, and either the cone section faces down towards the ground or up and out towards the top of the tree.
There is a wide range of squirrel baffles available to buy, or you can have a go at creating your own. Extra large funnels, dog cones, traffic cones – there are all kinds of things you can use to make one.
What Is The Best Bird Deterrent?
By nature, birds are flighty creatures. Bad joke. Anyway, birds are generally easier to deter than other more determined creatures that will steal your apricots, such as squirrels.
Strips of very shiny metallic tape or ribbon or anything that glints in the light and moves around in the wind once hung in the tree will help deter birds. CDs, streamers, or small mirrors can work well.
The hawk kites that you tether to the ground and will take flight when the wind blows are also effective against birds, as are actual living cats and dogs. Even your kids will deter birds, although you can’t really put your kid in the yard ALL day, and you can’t always guarantee there will be a wind to blow your kite.
The problem with just about anything you try is that, ultimately, the birds will probably get wise to your attempts to keep them off and just ignore them. They may be small, but their tiny brains ain’t so dumb!
How Do You Repel Birds?
You can try a few things to repel birds, but a barrier is often the most effective, and this involves placing a large bird netting around your tree.
- Netting – Bird netting needs to be erected so that it surrounds your tree and is not entangled in its branches. This means you must devise strong supports to keep the net in place in all weather conditions. A strong wind can be a bit of a challenge. Creating a frame from wood works best, but sadly isn’t really practical if your tree is large.
- Noise – Another idea is to buy a solar or battery-operated scare device that gives off a loud noise the birds don’t like. Some of these even look like owls for a double effect.
- Dancing men – If you’ve ever seen one of those blow-up dancing men at car dealerships, then you’ll understand why a bird might be scared of this brightly colored crazy moving thing. The good thing about these is that they move fairly erratically, so they stay frightening to the birds for longer.
- Nesting Owls – If your yard is suitable, you may want to try attracting natural bird predators such as owls to nest there. You can do this by:
- Installing nest boxes suited to the owls you want to attract.
- Allowing your other trees to grow tall with large branches where the owls can perch.
- Mow your lawn less frequently, so there are voles and other creatures for them to hunt.
- Place a large bird bath in the yard. This not only provides fresh water for your owls but also for all the other birds. This may seem rather counterintuitive, but if you keep the birds well-watered, then they are less likely to attack your succulent, juicy fruits because they aren’t thirsty.
Are Birds Afraid Of Aluminum Foil?
We’ve already mentioned that birds don’t like shiny things that move in the wind. Aluminum foil can be used for this purpose, but it often breaks and blows away if there is a strong wind.
Birds don’t like how foil feels against their beaks either, so they learn not to come near it. Wrapping it around the branches can give some protection.
How Do I Keep Squirrels From Eating My Apricots?
Despite what many people believe, squirrels don’t actually hibernate. They do have a dormant period during the winter, especially when the weather is cold.
At this time of year, they will only venture out to raid their carefully prepared food stores of nuts and seeds, which they will have hidden away during the summer and fall.
Protecting Bird tables
Bird tables can be an additional attraction drawing squirrels to your yard, as they often offer items that are very suitable for a squirrel’s winter storage needs.
On the one hand, having a bird table can be useful for feeding the birds and so preventing them from also feasting on your apricots.
If you do have a bird table, then ensure it is also protected to prevent squirrels from using it to feast on. Baffles are effective for this purpose.
Cozy Home Removal
Besides food sources, other things that attract squirrels are places to make a warm and cozy nest. Ensure you remove any access and entry points squirrels can use to reach your attic, shed or other building where they might want to nest and spend the winter.
Due to the incredible agility of squirrels, they can often find ways to access places you don’t want them to go.
Another great attraction for squirrels is letting the ripe fruits drop to the floor and then be left there. They give off a sweet aroma that will surely bring those pesky squirrels a running and looking for more!
Try to collect as many fruits as possible before they drop from the tree, and any that do rake up daily.
Probably one of the most reliable ways of keeping squirrels at bay is to erect squirrel size electric fencing. You can use the netting type fencing that comes on a roll, but ensure you get one with a small gauge at the bottom or the squirrels will just hop through it. It needs to give them a really good zap!
If you can’t get the netting, use the double fence method by erecting a chicken wire fence and then placing several strands of electric wire in a second fence in front of it.
These strands of wire must start low to the ground but be high enough so that they don’t just earth out all of the time. Then add additional strands every few inches.
You can either buy a mains unit that you plug in or try a solar one. All the pieces you need, including the energizer, wire, and poles, can be purchased online or at a farm store.
Think like a squirrel
You may have created a barrier to prevent them from going up the trunk of your apricot tree, but if there is a fence, building, or another tree close by, they will use this and jump into your apricot tree branches. You need to think like a squirrel and try to see all the possible entry points.
One deterrent is never enough
When it comes to squirrels, one form of defense is never sufficient, and it takes multiple tactics to keep them at bay.
Changing things up
Just because you’ve set up many obstacles, don’t sit back and think you’ve cracked it. These critters quickly work out how to bypass them, so the trick is to keep changing things up frequently.
In this video, one gardener takes a hilarious look at the multiple ways he has tried to keep squirrels out of his yard, with varying degrees of success.
What Scares Squirrels, Birds, And Other Animals?
Automatic devices, such as water sprayers that send out jets of water on sensing movement, are a good way to deter all kinds of animals (and even some humans), which can help to stop them from eating your apricots.
Dogs and cats will also be beneficial for this job as they will generally chase a squirrel or scare birds.
Are There Any Plants That Repel Squirrels?
There are quite a few plants you can try in your squirrel warfare. The reason the squirrels don’t like them is due to their strong aroma.
Herbs such as:
Flowers such as:
- Scented Geraniums
- Lily of the Valley
Or you can try plants that are members of the onion family:
Despite there being quite a wide variety of methods to deter not just birds and squirrels but many different animals, you’re always faced with one problem – animals are way smarter than we give them credit for!
Whatever methods you use, you’ll need to keep changing them and using different combinations on a fairly regular basis.
Luckily, the ripe apricot season is fairly short, so you should be OK if you only deploy a few of the methods we’ve discussed here.
Remember that trapping live squirrels and birds won’t keep them away, as others simply move in to replace them.
Killing them is also inadvisable, as squirrels, and a fair number of bird species, are protected by law in many states, so even harming them is an offense.
To learn more about how to grow healthy apricot trees and many other useful topics, take a closer look at our website.