Squirrels are intelligent daredevils, and they love to solve problems.

Natural Ways to Repel Squirrels From the Garden Using Spices

by Mara Dolph

Squirrels are undeniably cute creatures. They are also very intelligent and adaptable animals, and they can successfully live in a wide variety of environments. Not only have they adapted to human habitats, but they have also thrived in them. Unfortunately, because of this they have become one of America's most lovable pests, and they can create havoc in a garden, especially if there is a bird feeder around. One humane way to deter these rodents from using your garden as their own personal buffet is with certain spices.

1. Chili Powder and Cayenne Pepper

Squirrels, like all mammals, have good senses of smell and taste, and this can be used to advantage. A good dose of chili powder in the soil around garden plants -- enough so that they get a good amount in their noses -- will ensure that they don't come back. If they do, add ground black or cayenne pepper to the mix. They will get it in their nose and mouth and on their feet, and the burning will act as a deterrent without harming the plants or harming the animals. Coating birdseed with the same mixture will keep them out of bird feeders.

2. Hot Sauce

Like cayenne pepper, hot sauces can be used to deter squirrels. These go from mildly spicy to mind-blowingly hot, so finding the right hot sauce for the job is a matter of trial and error. The easiest way to use hot sauce is to make a spray out of it. To do this, mix a bottle of hot sauce with one gallon of water and a teaspoon of dish soap, put it into a spray bottle and spray the plants that the squirrels eat. Remember to re-apply it every once in awhile, especially after a rain.

3. Essential Oils

Natural over-the-counter squirrel repellents use essential oils in their formulas, so it is possible to make them at home at less cost. In a spray bottle, mix one part vinegar to two parts water, a drop of dish soap, and add the essential oils to it. Squirrel-repelling oils are garlic, red pepper, lemongrass, thyme, cinnamon and clove. Adding some hot sauce to the mix will give it some extra kick. The dish soap will help the mixture stick to what gets sprayed.

4. Cautions

The chemical that gives chilis their spiciness is called capsaicin, and it also acts as a natural insecticide. This is appropriate if you need insect control, but it will also kill beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, so don't use it around flowers or anything else that attracts bees. Avoid spraying or laying down powder on a windy day, and always use disposable gloves when handling these spices. Remember that this is pepper spray, and make sure to keep the spray, powder and fingers away from your eyes and nose, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling it.

About the Author

Mara Dolph is a career outdoor educator and conservation biologist. She holds a BA in the Biological Aspects of Conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a graduate certificate from the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation program at Columbia University. She has been a writer for six years, and has contributed articles for "Outdoors in NYC."

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