It’s the fall season. You have bought a huge jack-o-lantern as a prop for your Halloween decorations. You proceed to carve out intricate designs on your pumpkin. And then you place it on your porch.
You are very excited to show off your carving talents. But lo and behold! What do you see the next morning?
You find that your pumpkin has lost its carved glory. Now it looks nothing short of a half-eaten vegetable someone disposed of on your porch. Huh.
Your frustration over this is understandable. But don’t worry. We have brought some easy and effective methods to keep the critters away from your pumpkin.
Read ahead to know more!
Why and When are Squirrels Attracted to Pumpkins?
Pumpkin is not a favorite for these cute critters. But they will snack on it if the need and opportunity arrive.
And when does this situation arise? Why, towards the fall, when your yards have turned into a pumpkin exhibition?
The logic behind this is that just before the onset of winter when the squirrels go into hibernation, they need food. At this time they will not be choosy. They will eat anything available.
So if pumpkins are lying around this time, it’s not their fault for gnawing at them.
What Smells do Squirrels Hate?
There are a few smells that squirrels hate, including peppermint, chili peppers, and vinegar. You can use these to your advantage by creating a squirrel-proof spray for your pumpkin patch. Simply combine equal parts of each ingredient in a spray bottle and spritz around the perimeter of your patch.
How to Protect Pumpkins from Squirrels?
Cover the Pumpkin Patch
One effective way to prevent squirrels from accessing your pumpkins is by using a physical barrier such as a mesh or netting to cover the entire patch. This can prevent squirrels from landing on the pumpkins or digging around them.
Use Hot Sauce/Pepper
Mix some water with a small bottle of hot sauce. Keep adding water till the texture of the sauce is gone and it has become light and flowy liquid. Add a teaspoon of detergent or 3-4 drops of liquid soap to make the solution sticky.
Shake well. Pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture all over your beloved pumpkins.
Squirrels might eat pumpkins when needed, but they cannot take the hot taste associated with hot sauce. With the first bite or gnaw they will be repelled from future attempts at your pumpkins.
Another way to shock those critters into spicy heat is by applying a paste of chili flakes over the pumpkins. Take a generous amount of chili flakes and grind them into a fine powder (or you can use red chili powder if you have some). Add water to the powder till the texture is like a loose paste. Wear light gloves and apply the paste to the pumpkin.
Use both the mixture and paste every day for an effective deterrent.
Spray a generous amount of peppermint oil around the pumpkin. Squirrels have sensitive olfactory senses. They cannot take the intense scent of the oil. To avoid it they will be forced to keep away from your pumpkins.
You can also use eucalyptus oil to make your pumpkin repulsive to squirrels. Mix one part of the oil with ten parts of water. Shake well. Add soap or detergent to make the mixture sticky enough. Pour it into a spray bottle and spray.
Another way of using peppermint to repel squirrels is by placing several peppermint candies inside the carved pumpkin or around it.
Placing coffee beans or garlic cloves could also be of help because they too have intense smells and squirrels do not like them.
Use your Pets
If you have predatory pets in your house like dogs and they shed fur, don’t let it go to waste. Use these furs to repel squirrels.
Collect the fallen furs and sprinkle them around the pumpkins. Squirrels who try to approach your pumpkins will instantly become aware of a predator’s presence. This will make them hesitant to come near.
The squirrels (that are the prey species) will be afraid to encroach upon the predator’s territory and thus, will stay away.
Squirrels are terrified of aerial predators. So you can set up models or statues resembling hawks, eagles, or owls around your yard or a single one beside your pumpkin. Make it look real and scary with big eyes.
The squirrels won’t be able to tell the difference and frightened of the birds will refrain from stepping near your pumpkins.
Decoys misguide the critters but distraction also works. Since pumpkins are not their favorite, to keep squirrels away from pumpkins keep a plate of nuts and seeds a little away from the pumpkin in your garden.
If you have a spying spot without getting noticed, hide there and keep an eye. In no time the critters will come, bypass the pumpkins, and crowd around the plate.
Squirrels cannot take the pungent odor of vinegar. So if you keep bowls of vinegar around your yard, it can effectively deter squirrels from coming and destroying your pumpkin.
Take some large dollops of petroleum jelly and gently apply them to the pumpkin. This will prevent the drying up of the pumpkin skin and it will also repel the squirrels. Do this daily.
This is used as a finishing touch on surfaces. You do the same. Coat the entire pumpkin with lacquer spray and let it dry.
The lacquer spray hardens the surface of the pumpkin making it difficult for the critters to chew through. Make sure to coat all the exposed surfaces, or else if the squirrels find even a small uncoated part, it will start eating through that only.
Coating pumpkins with hair spray works wonders too. Hair spray will make the surface sticky which will turn away many squirrels.
Windex on Pumpkins
One popular method is to cover the pumpkins with Windex. The strong smell of the chemicals will deter squirrels, and the glass cleaner can also act as a fungicide, helping to keep your pumpkins healthy. Just be sure to reapply after it rains.
Any local animal repellant or plain deer repellent works on squirrels. They just need to be stinking like rotten eggs.
Try to set up motion detectors around the yard. When the squirrels trigger them, the shrill alarm attached will scare them away.
Use Motion-Activated Sprinklers
Motion-activated sprinklers are an effective way to scare off squirrels. When a squirrel approaches the pumpkin patch, the sprinkler will activate and spray water, causing the squirrel to run away.
Hang Aluminum Foil Strips
Squirrels are easily frightened by sudden movements and bright, reflective objects. Hanging strips of aluminum foil around the pumpkin patch can create a deterrent for squirrels.
Remove Food sources
Squirrels are attracted to food sources such as birdseed, nuts, and fruits. By removing these food sources from your yard, you can reduce the likelihood of squirrels coming into your pumpkin patch.
Consider using Commercial Squirrel Repellents
There are many commercial squirrel repellents available on the market, such as sprays and granules. These products contain natural ingredients that repel squirrels and can be an effective solution for keeping them away from your pumpkins.
- The urine of other predators can also deter squirrels. But using this is not a safe choice. Because animal waste is known to spread many diseases. So there is no point spilling it all around your house yard and pumpkins.
- Chemicals like mothballs, bleach, etc. are known to affect the critters’ sensitive noses. But using these can also pose harm to your pumpkin as well as the ground around it.
- After applying pepper or hot sauce, make sure to wash your hands, or else the heat might burn your eyes and face when you touch them.
- Do not apply vinegar to the body of the pumpkin. It will shrivel up the coat and damage it faster.
These methods are not only limited to Halloween but can be used throughout the year as well. You just have to be mindful of the suggested precautions.
But as final thoughts, we would like to point out that squirrels are intelligent creatures. They adjust and adapt rapidly. So if the squirrel infestation is too severe, like you see numerous squirrels scurrying around, these methods will not be sufficient after a point.
In that case, we suggest investing in some squirrel traps or calling in professional pest control.
Nevertheless, we hope this article helped alleviate some of your frustrations.