Brazilian Raintree under attack!

AKNicolle

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This morning I did my usual tree inspection and found something had attacked our Brazilian Raintree sometime in the last 24 hrs. From the looks of it, I'd say it was probably a squirrel. Whatever it was had even pulled out some of the wire securing the roots! This particular tree has had some bark stripped before, but thankfully has mostly been left alone since last summer. I'm moving it behind some chicken wire, so hopefully that'll be enough to keep it away from the destructive creature(s).

Any ideas for keeping pests away from trees? I usually steer clear of fertilizers likely to attract pests (esp. with fish emulsion), but I don't know what else I can do to avoid damage.
 

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Mike423

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Sorry to hear that I have a BRT as well an short of a little digging in the soil I have never had any problems with squirrels. I do have a cesspool of ground squirrels in my neighborhood though and for everyone I catch and relocate it seems like five take their place. I was thinking of buying some Repell all or something like that to spread along the yard to see if it keeps them away. Hope you find something that works.
 

007

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I too have a BRT that was attacked by squirrels when I lived in Michigan. The damage wasn't as severe as what has happened to your tree, but it has taken several years to heal over.

I unfortunately never found any successful deterrents for the vermin. They damaged many tree's and keeping Ficus was impossible. I found that the attacks increased during dry periods and assumed the squirrels were looking to the tree's as a source of water.

Things tried:

Cayenne Powder on the soil: FAIL
Mouse Traps on the table: FAIL
Plastic Owl (moved daily): FAIL
Moth Balls: FAIL
Hanging CDs: FAIL

The most effective deterrent:
 

AKNicolle

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Hey, there's an idea! Not the dog - I wonder if it'd help to put out a bowl of water? It has been dry over the past week. I've tried cayenne pepper in the past, but the squirrels around here seem to love eating it!?
 

Alex DeRuiter

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From the few posts I've seen about animal deterrence, I've seen only a few good suggestions. One was sprinkling cayenne pepper on the soil, but everyone says that this is very temporary. Another suggestion was to pretty much fence the trees off and hope for the best...just put it in a place where it will continue to grow well, but is out of danger from the animals.

I didn't realize BRTs get such fat roots! Nice base :)
 

007

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Hey, there's an idea! Not the dog - I wonder if it'd help to put out a bowl of water? It has been dry over the past week. I've tried cayenne pepper in the past, but the squirrels around here seem to love eating it!?

It might just work. I'd put it well away from your tree's though . . . and if it works, a bigger bird bath type yard ornament might be great. Another suggestion I forgot to add was I actually tried feeding the squirrels too. This also worked to some extent, but I got tired of buying peanuts, stocking the feeder, etc. etc. etc. It reduced the attacks, but didn't stop them.
 

Alex DeRuiter

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I don't want to sound like some hippie or weirdo or something, but...I remember reading this book called American Earth, which is a collection of short stories and articles about nature in the US, the evolution of the ways people live in the US, and some other stories about spirituality and magic from the perspective of different cultures. One thing I thought was interesting about a particular story about "magic" was the idea of giving back to nature. An Indian family (Eastern Indian, but I'm not sure exactly where or what sub-culture these people belonged to) would cook a bunch of rice each morning, place the rice in leaves, and place the rice-filled leaves in the corners of each house on their estate. The rice would disappear within a couple hours, but nobody knew why and assumed it was mother nature accepting the gift. It turns out that ants had been taking the taking the rice and it was so gradual that nobody had noticed. Anyway, the author speculated that perhaps this offering is what had kept the ants out of their houses and outside. I wonder if something similar could be implemented for the little critters -- maybe set up some bird/squirrel feeders far away from your trees?

I have a squirrel feeder literally right next to my greenhouse where most of my trees are, and I haven't had a single problem yet. Now, if this backfires and all of my trees get eaten, I will just have to eat my words. ;-p
 

jk_lewis

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I assume you live in a city, but if not, an air rifle is a wonderful squirrel deterrant.
 

AKNicolle

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We have 4 bird-feeders in the yard, so the squirrels already have a good feed whenever they want! Unfortunately it'd probably only make them thirstier. I've put out some water and applied cut paste to the affected trees (they'd also nipped the trident maple & willow-leaf ficus nearby), so we'll see what happens next. We're not quite rural enough for air rifles!
 

treebeard55

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Ouch! A squirrel knocked over a friend's shimpaku, that I'm tree-sitting, a few weeks ago. Seems to have done a bit of root damage, but I expect the tree to recover.

Our local squirrels are black-phase fox squirrels, which adds to the "cute" quotient to many people. (Including the state of Indiana, I think.) Aargh! :mad:

Set, unbaited mousetraps have worked best for me. There's still the occasional time when a pot gets dug in anyway, and each generation has to be taught anew that being around my trees can mean a scare. Call the tactic 90% effective, in my experience.

And our local squirrels also have a good natural food supply available. That may well make more of a difference than the mousetraps!
 

jk_lewis

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Unfortunately, fox squirrels are considered endangered or threatened species by most jurisdictions. They are not -- usually -- anywhere near as pesky as the gray squirrel.
 

grog

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I too have a BRT that was attacked by squirrels when I lived in Michigan. The damage wasn't as severe as what has happened to your tree, but it has taken several years to heal over.

I unfortunately never found any successful deterrents for the vermin. They damaged many tree's and keeping Ficus was impossible. I found that the attacks increased during dry periods and assumed the squirrels were looking to the tree's as a source of water.

Things tried:

Cayenne Powder on the soil: FAIL
Mouse Traps on the table: FAIL
Plastic Owl (moved daily): FAIL
Moth Balls: FAIL
Hanging CDs: FAIL

The most effective deterrent:

Very good looking pup! I've found ficus to be the one tree the squirrels and rabbits will leave alone. I have pretty ghetto benches with tiered step style ones at 1, 2, then 3 concrete blocks high and moving the ficus down low has seemed to keep the cute little bastards away. Elms seem to be their favorite target, even over maples.
 

treebeard55

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Unfortunately, fox squirrels are considered endangered or threatened species by most jurisdictions. ...

You're probably right where other areas are concerned, but the little blaggards aren't endangered in northern Indiana! Very common here, with the standard coloration. The black phase occurs in isolated populations spotted here and there -- one of which happens to be spotted in our neighborhood!

I've never killed a squirrel with one of these traps, and that's not what I'm out to do: just scare them often enough that they become conditioned to stay away from where I keep my trees.
 

007

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Very good looking pup! I've found ficus to be the one tree the squirrels and rabbits will leave alone. I have pretty ghetto benches with tiered step style ones at 1, 2, then 3 concrete blocks high and moving the ficus down low has seemed to keep the cute little bastards away. Elms seem to be their favorite target, even over maples.

Thanks! He's a fair bit bigger now ;)

I actually found that Ficus were the favorites of the squirrels . . . they chewed completely through a 3" trunk on a retusa. Fortunately it wasn't anything special, but still . . . . that was my last ficus. Between the neverending battle with scale and the squirrels, I abandonded the species.

Now that I'm in a warmer climate though, I might give em' another whirl. Plus the squirrels in LA are few and far between (just ask the dog . . . he misses them :D)
 

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