Answer: Yes, as squirrels can eat away bark and cause the tree to stress. They also can access your attic and create nests.
If you are trimming the tree it’s easy to cut the branch supporting the squirrel’s nest and it will fall to the ground. This is a short term solution, of course, as they’ll build another nest.
What else can I do to prevent squirrel damage to my tree?
The arborist’s opinion is that there is no permanent long term solution to prevent squirrels.
Many of the short term solutions are inconsistent. Squirrels’ natural habitat are trees, they can jump six feet or more, and they multiply like crazy. This makes them hard to prevent.##
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If you have squirrels eating away bark, it becomes a matter of constant prevention until the tree can recover. Here are six methods to try.
Six Ways to Deter Squirrels from Your Tree
1. Remove the squirrels nest. This requires trimming the branch where the squirrel nest sits. This is a short term solution.
2. Apply a taste deterrent. Apply this and when the squirrel takes a bite of the tree, it gets a mouthful of the “most vile tasting substance ever discovered,” according to a leading brand, Ropel. Taste deterrents get good reviews from gardeners for small plant protection. However, the label directions for Ropel, say to use the built in hand sprayer meaning to apply on a tree, you have to climb it or use a ladder. Ouch. And then do a second application 3 to 7 days later as recommended. Ropel costs $49.99 per gallon which will cover 1000 to 4000 square feet depending on application method. Here are the full directions for use.
3. Wrap aluminum foil around the base of the trunk. This works better if a tree is on its own, away from the house and fence. Otherwise the squirrels just jump over it from another structure.
4. Trim trees above the house line. Trees close to the house can be trimmed above the roof and fence line. This breaks up the “squirrel highway” that the critters travel on.
5. Traps. “Trapping provides only short term relief. Squirrels are prolific and mobile,” Russ Carlson, President of Tree Tech Consulting out of Delaware. “Trapping is sort of like bailing water out of a lake. More just rushes in to take its place.”
Home Depot and Ace Hardware carry a wide range of squirrel traps.
6. Shooting them. Shooting a squirrel with a BB or pellet gun won’t kill the rodent. But certainly drive them away. Eventually, they may come back, but anecdotal evidence indicates that they get the message. Check city ordinances in your town before attempting this method.
A squirrel has to eat and is stripping away the bark on your tree in search of nuts, fungi and other high protein food sources. It will take a marriage of the above methods to keep squirrels at bay. Good luck.
Did this help? If not, then ask us.
Thanks to the University of Georgia Extension office for their input.