squirels eating plants - Knowledgebase Question

Rochester, Ne
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Question by sandyvalente
June 30, 2010
How do I stop squirrels, as well as rabbits, voles, & moles, from eating tomato plants, sunflower plants, and hostas?

Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010
You'll need to use different strategies to control these various pests. For starters, the moles aren't eating your plants. Moles are carnivores that feed on things like grubs in the soil. So while they may damage plants incidentally with their tunneling, they don't directly harm the plants themselves. Usually if you have a lot of moles, you have a lot of grubs in your lawn, so treating for grubs will usually send the moles on their way looking for food. Voles do chew on the roots of plants. You may see dime size holes where they have tunneled in to the soil near plants. You can discourage voles by going easy on mulch, turning mulch frequently to disrupt tunnels, and keeping grass near garden beds mowed low so voles won't have cover to reach the garden. To get rid of them once they are in a bed, you can set traps baited with a mix of peanut butter and oatmeal and place the traps at the mouth of a tunnel. Fencing is the bet way to keep rabbits out of a garden. Fences should be 2 feet high to keep out true rabbits, 3 feet high to keep out hares. With either kind, the fencing should be made of 3/4" diameter wire mesh and should extend underground vertically about a foot and then bent at a right angle away from the garden for about another foot (kind of an underground L-shape) to prevent the rabbits from digging under. There are also commercially available rabbit repellents; these need to be reapplied frequently. If you already have a fence in place, you can just add this underground wire barrier to it. Squirrels are tough pests to deal with because they can climb over just about anything. Netting over your plants can discourage them from taking bites out of your ripe tomatoes and rabbit repellents often fend off squirrels as well.

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