Jan 17, 201310:46 AMLV Home & Garden
All things home and garden
What’s Bugging You About Squirrels?
The North American woods are not inhabited by monkeys but we do have squirrels. And like their primate counterparts; they’re very agile, curious and they’ll wreck havoc on the artifacts that have come to define modern American life; roof eves, electrical insulation, gardens and birdfeeders.
Some defeated garden writers have turned lemons into lemonade by publishing little books about just how badly we get snookered by a critter that’s just .025% our body weight. Almost everyone who feeds birds would love to finds a way to get rid of them short of Squirrel Pot Pie. I think I found a solution.
Of course, I thought I had a fix earlier when I proposed mixing Plaster of Paris into a ration of oatmeal that would clog up the digestive tract of the offenders. But, as I discovered, it’s too slow, painful to contemplate and it sure got me some angry calls when I talked about it on the radio.
Interestingly, managing little pests is something that commercial agriculture has had to deal with for a long time.
One really nifty trick to reduce the population of insect pests, for example, is to sterilize the males and release them into the buggy environment. It works. Certain flies that bother cattle have been effectively managed this way. While the possibilities are endless there are some road bumps.
The limitation of this method has to do with our ability to raise a sufficiently large population of sterile males to make any difference. Then there’s the radiation. No one wants to be near the bug factory when it melts down.
Another population limiting technology, currently used on certain fish, is manipulating the critter genetically to render it unable to reproduce. Used to keep grass-carp, stocked in ponds or lakes to eat vegetation, from taking over, I keep hearing Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) saying, “that nature will find a way.”
The inspiration for my fix is based on another emerging technology that you may already deploy in your lawn or garden. It’s been aimed at some equally prolific and destructive pests like Japanese beetles, stink bugs and flies.
Insects see the world a lot differently than we but they connect in a big way through scent.
The scent of rotting fruit, decaying meat or delicate roses gets creepy critters up and at’em. Nothing gets them more motivated however than the scent of their own kind in heat. Insects send signals that travel great distances to announce their presence and willingness to share the love.
In more and more cases pest managers are capitalizing on the power of scents (pheromones) to distract or disorient mating bugs. In some instances they end up in bags or hanging terrariums from which there is no escape. In other scenarios, the air is so filled with signals of purported potential mates that bugs wander expectantly but without a real target; unfulfilled.
In most of the animal world, including our own, bigger equates with better. Bigger feathers, bigger horns and for a broad range of animals bigger scent trumps all other offers for mating preference. Let’s turn our scents on squirrels.
I’ve had toads and frogs try to mate with my hand (maybe you’ve mated with your hand), dogs have found my leg darned appealing and all sorts of animals can be seduced into mating with inanimate or inappropriate (in a Darwinian sense) objects of desire (Cattle are trapped these days in a Cabana’s on Danna scenario; look but no touch).
Powered by the primitive siren of scent, I can see a thing that looks like a cat toy that you place in a convenient spot in your trees. It’s doused with whatever the squirrel version of “Come Hither” cologne smells like.
Squirrels, being the randy rodent that they are, will happily spend their legacy on a squeeze toy and, lucky for us, decrease the surplus population.
No more traps, no more Rube Goldberg feeders to discourage raiders, and no more cute books by stay at home moms about squirrel antics that are cute to watch until they chew through the pole drop (electric line).
It’s time to deploy the big guns; a squirrel solution that makes scents!