DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

pests

May 16 2012

Squirrel Wars!!!

by Dea Anne M

I posted here last month about my adventures this year in raised bed gardening. I can report a lot of satisfaction with the way the garden is progressing. Here’s a picture:

Well you can imagine my dismay when I looked out my kitchen window a week or so ago and saw two squirrels whooping it up in the beds. Their tails were going like propellers and they were leaping about with the sort of lusty glee appropriate to a couple of forty-niners finally hitting gold or a pair of Visigoths deep into the Sack of Rome. A few angry shouts sent them fleeing, but when I went down to the beds to check out the damage my suspicions were confirmed. Every one of the baby lettuces that I had recently planted  from seed were gone.

image from thejacksack.com

When I was a kid, I loved the story of Beatrix Potter’s Squirrel Nutkin. I mean, I thought squirrels were the cutest thing going. These days…not so much. The sorts of furry herbivores that I once considered a delight to witness: squirrels, deer, rabbits look like destruction on four legs now. There’s a real danger when you become a dedicated gardener of developing an us against them view of the animal kingdom and that’s not really where I want my mind to go. After all, squirrels have to eat. On the other hand, I’m not in this gardening thing as a way of providing backyard denizens with a 24/7 salad bar. Measures have to be taken, though I strongly favor those methods that do the least harm. Cayenne pepper tea, made by steeping the chopped peppers in boiling water then straining, has so far been very effective. The trouble with this method is that you have reapply the spray after each rain. Then again, gardening isn’t meant to be without effort. My friend Ray, recommends putting cat hair on the beds as a squirrel deterrent and I have heard this from other folks as well. As my own cats shed hair in quantities that rival the amount of pollen coating the surface of my car on any given day this spring, I’m guessing that I will be experimenting with this method  too.

If you too need to figure out how to deal with unwanted garden incursions and raids, then DCPL has resources to help.

Dead Snails Leave No Trails: natural pest control for home and garden by Loren Nancarrow and Janet Hogan Taylor emphasizes an organic, humane approach to controlling all sorts of garden pests without poisoning the garden in the process. This compendium of useful information includes tips on identifying garden-helpful insects that you might otherwise think to repel.

Bugs, Slugs & Other Thugs: controlling garden pests organically by Rhonda Massingham Hart includes a lot of great information on how to attract “beneficials” (i.e. birds and insects that naturally help control garden pests). Special features include tips on gently repelling pesky garden intruders when they have started helping themselves to more than their fair share. For example: “Clippings of cat or dog hair might be enough to ward off rodents and other pests.” Homespun wisdom is the best!

Outwitting Critters: a surefire manual for confronting devious animals and winning by Bill Adler, Jr. extends its reach beyond the garden to include other areas of animal driven trouble. Here you’ll find information on how to safely and humanely deal with everything from the ant parade in your kitchen, to the coyotes roaming your property, to that annoying alligator who has chosen your front lawn as her favorite sunbathing spot.

Finally there’s Squirrel Wars: backyard wildlife battles and how to win them by George H. Harrison from which I, quite shamelessly I confess, stole the title of this blog post. Harrison approaches critter problems with a sense of humor and documents actual, often off-beat, methods that real homeowners have used to cope. In the interest of understanding the “enemy” Harrison spends a significant portion of the book providing a natural history of squirrels, rabbits, wasps and other potentially problematic fauna.

How do you keep critters at bay?

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