How to keep animals from eating fruit trees

5 ideas for keeping critters out of your fruit trees

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Every year backyard fruit trees are robbed of their bounty, frustrating gardeners. Here are five tips for protecting your trees.


Critters can’t eat what they can’t reach. Prune trees about 6 feet away from buildings and fences. This might not be possible in smaller lots where trees are planted alongside structures, but do what you can and take that into account the next time you plant trees.

Climbing deterrents

When delicious fruit is the reward, even poor climbers can find the motivation to scale a tree trunk and get to it. To stop the climbing, loosely wrap trunks in metal flashing, extending about 4 feet above the ground.

The flashing should be tight enough to keep animals from slipping in from the bottom and squeezing between the flashing and trunk, but loose enough that it gives the tree room to grow. You also can take the guards off during the dormant seasons.

Baffles also can work. Install the umbrella shaped baffle just below the first branches on the tree. The animal may climb the tree, but won’t be able to get around the baffle to access the rest of the tree and the fruit.

Other barriers

Netting can be effective for some animals, but it depends on your fruit thief and the type of fruit you’re trying to protect. Squirrels and rodents can gnaw through plastic netting, and birds can peck through openings in the net.

Nets also are difficult to install, especially on very tall trees. They can, however, preserve much of the fruit. If you keep your fruit trees small with pruning, you can more easily cover them.

Some gardeners use PC pipes to build structures over the trees that can then be draped with netting, or covered in wire mesh for added protection.

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Getting creative

To discourage birds and some animals, hang reflective ribbons in trees. The movement of the ribbons in the wind, coupled with random flashes of light, can help keep animals out of your trees.

Chemical warfare

If the fruit thief is a rodent, you also can try spraying the tree and the fruit with a hot pepper spray that you make yourself or use a commercial spray. Squirrels have a particular dislike for the smell of capsaicin, the stuff in peppers that give them their heat.

  • Recipe: You’ll need powdered red pepper (the hotter the better), water and some liquid soap. In a large jug, stir 2 tablespoons of the pepper into a gallon of warm water, then add six drops of liquid soap. Stir well, put the lid on and let it sit overnight. Early the next morning, pour some of the solution into a spray bottle, shake well and spray your plants, fences, or whatever the squirrels are after. At dusk, you can apply a second coat. Continue this for a few days or until the squirrels get the idea. After that, you may only need to spray once a week. The mixture will keep for two to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Some critters also have an aversion to the smell of mothballs. As mothballs can be toxic, use caution. The balls should be placed in a mesh bag — old pantyhose is a good material — and hung in trees.

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Joan Morris | Features writer/Animal Life columnist

Joan Morris is the pets & wildlife columnist for the Bay Area News Group. She also writes about gardening and is the founder of Our Garden, a demonstration garden in Walnut Creek. Morris started her career in 1978 as a reporter for a small New Mexico newspaper. She has lived in the Bay Area since 1988.

[email protected]

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Protecting Fruit from Wildlife | University of Maryland Extension

Updated: June 1, 2022

Deer, voles, rabbits, and birds can be a major pest of fruit plants


There are basically three solutions to most animal problems:

  1. The problem animal can be trapped but before doing so check with The Nuisance Wildlife Information Line, a service provided by MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wildlife and Heritage Services, and the US Department of Ag. , Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services Program (USDA-APHIS)  for information.  Call them toll-free at 1-877-463-6497.
  2. A barrier of some fashion can be constructed to prevent animal access.
  3. Repellents can be used to discourage animal activity.

Effective control depends on three prime factors

  • Timing, persistence, and diversity.
  • You should install barriers around fruit plants before an animal problem occurs.
  • Unlike insect pest control, you cannot wait to correct a wildlife problem. It is important to act at the very first indication of their presence. If left unattended, some animals will destroy fruit plants in a very short time.
  • In many cases, a single approach to control may not work, and the effectiveness of a single control method is not guaranteed just because it worked before.
  • Animals differ in their habits and can use their ingenuity to get to your fruit plants. Typically, you will need a variety of strategies and devices for animal control.
  • A good first step is to surround new fruit plants with a cylinder of 1/2-inch hardware cloth that extends from below the soil surface to the top of the plant.
  • Alternately, keep plants covered with netting. This will prevent problems with deer, voles, birds, and rabbits.


Can severely damage fruit plants by feeding or by rubbing their antlers to remove the velvet. It is difficult to break behavior patterns once they are established so plan a deer management strategy before planting. The only sure way to eliminate deer damage is with fencing.

Fencing options

• A solidly constructed fence of deer netting or wire mesh 8 feet high. 
• A solid 6-foot privacy fence or wall. Although deer can jump over it, they seldom go into an area they cannot see into first.
•Build two 3-foot-tall fences made of three strings. The fences should be 3 feet apart. This double fence confuses deer and they generally won’t jump over it. Tie bright tape on the strings to make them more visible to the deer.
•Two-strand electric fences have also been used successfully. Hang squares of aluminum foil spread with peanut butter at intervals. These will attract deer and the resultant shock will make them wary to return.


• Need to be kept fresh for maximum effectiveness.
• The two kinds of repellents are contact and area. Contact repellents are applied directly to the plants and repel by taste. Area repellents are applied near the plants and repel deer by smell.
• There are many types and brands of commercial animal repellents to choose from that are helpful in deterring deer. Read the product label before application to see if it is labeled to be used on edible plants. 
• Some homemade repellents: 1) Hang small nylon bags of human hair or deodorant soap on fences or branches. Hang them 30 inches from the ground and no more than 3 feet apart. 2) Spray a formulation of 1 to 2 tablespoons of Tabasco sauce and 1 tablespoon of liquid soap in 1 gallon of water. 3) Spray a mixture of 3-4 raw eggs mixed with 1 gallon of water. 

Frightening techniques

• Devices using such techniques as bright lights or loud noises usually only work for a short period of time. A dog on a long run can keep deer out of a limited area. Dogs can be trained to guard against deer.

Deer Damage

University of Maryland Extension Managing Deer Damage in Maryland


Are also called meadow or field mice, which are members of the rodent family. They are compact animals with stocky bodies, short legs, and a short tail. They are usually brown or gray, though many color variations exist. They are active both day and night throughout the year and live primarily aboveground, in runways at the surface, or in mole tunnels. They eat the lower bark of fruit plants during the fall and winter and can girdle and kill young trees.

Methods of vole management

• Mow lawn and turf areas regularly. Pull mulch away from the trunks and crowns of fruit plants to prevent voles from hiding in the mulch and chewing bark.
• Voles will avoid digging in pea gravel. Lay it at the base of fruit trees before winter.
• Use mouse snap traps. Place the trap perpendicular to the surface runways with the trigger end in the runway. A peanut butter-oatmeal mixture or apple slices make good baits.


Can damage fruit plants by gnawing bark during the winter. They can be easily controlled with a two-foot-high fence of chicken wire with the bottom tight to the ground or buried a few inches. Commercial tree wrap is another alternative in preventing rabbit damage to tree trunks. Effective repellents for rabbits that act upon their senses of taste (e.g. hot pepper flakes) and smell (e.g. dried blood) can be sprinkled around plants. They must be reapplied periodically, especially after heavy rainfall.


Are a particular problem for blueberry, cherry, and grape plants. In the past, to protect vegetable gardens and fruit plantings bird netting was recommended but it can also trap and injure the birds.  Many gardeners grow their blueberries in large cages using chicken wire to protect the ripening berries.

An inexpensive Mylar tape with a shiny silver coating is also commercially available. The tape is effective when wound around plants one week before the fruit is ready to harvest. Sprays made of table sugar and grape juice extract have also shown some promise. Various visual or sound frightening techniques, such as loud noises, lights, and bright shiny objects, can also be very effective if used as the fruit begins to ripen. Most birds, especially crows, however, can become accustomed to them over time. Ultrasonic sounds are not effective because birds cannot hear them.

Related information

Maryland Grows Blog-Kent Phillips Build Blueberry Cages

Additional resource

Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Maryland Birds

A dog nibbles a tree: highlighting physiological and psychological causes

Contrary to popular belief, the taste preferences of four-legged animals are much wider than they seem. Pets eat grass, dig up worms, love fruits, sometimes they even eat pebbles, and to some extent, all this is normal. When a dog chews on a tree, does it enthusiastically and persistently, the owner begins to worry ... and for good reason.

Let's note right away that it is simply impossible to stop the desire of dogs to gnaw anything. In puppyhood, these tendencies are much more pronounced, but they do not disappear when the four-legged grows up. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure the comfort of the ward, in this case, toys that can be chewed.

Remember! If a dog gnaws on a tree, especially the bark, innocent-looking entertainment can end tragically. At best, the pet injures the gums with splinters. At worst, swallowing a large piece of bark, the dog will suffer from perforation of the stomach or intestines.


  • 1 Motivation
  • 2 Physiological causes
  • 3 Psychological causes


, even illogical and strange, there are reasons . .. if we are talking about an average, mentally healthy dog. Even if we are talking about a mental disorder, there are also reasons, but everything is more complicated here, below we will consider such situations in a little more detail.

In a global sense, the causes can be divided by origin:

  • Behavioral or pathological.
  • Mental - that is, behavior depends on obsessive phobias or discomfort caused by something.

Please note! It is normal for dogs to chew and gnaw on wooden sticks, but should not be swallowed by the animal.

Physiological reasons

The first behavioral reason is exploring the world . It is normal for a baby of any species to sniff and taste unfamiliar objects. Given the curiosity of puppies, anything, including a tree, can get into their teeth. It is worth noting that wood has a smell and taste, which only incites an inexperienced pet. For example, a tree of fruit varieties has a sweetish taste and a pleasant smell. The oak is a bit tart and smells a bit bitter, which isn't too bad for dogs.

When a puppy grows up, he has a very good reason to gnaw everything - the baby has itchy gums , because the molars are being cut. During this period, the owner has a choice:

  • Provide the puppy with safe, durable and non-toxic toys. Treat your pet with special treats on a regular basis.
  • Watch closely so that the puppy does not chew through wires, swallow a fragment of a stick, chew shoes, etc.

Getting a little older, the puppy learns what passion and passion for the game is. The kid willingly fools around with relatives, fetches and is very active on walks. During this period, the dog may begin to eat the tree unintentionally, that is, carried away. There is no recipe for such behavior. The only thing that will help you out is toys and attentiveness.

An adult dog lives in a certain schedule and, as experience shows, receives less attention from the owners. Twice walks and short socializing is a minimum program that is not suitable for most dog breeds. Everyday life, which turns into an endless rut, gives rise to boredom. A bored dog sooner or later reaches one of two states:

  • Destroyer .
  • Sociopath - a condition that can be considered as a mental disorder. I am glad that this problem can be solved with games, attention and long walks, that is, socialization.

Destroyers behave unacceptably, but they do it for one purpose - to attract attention . Like "difficult children", difficult dogs suffer no less than the owner. Think for yourself, to what degree of despair do you need to endure in order for punishment to be a joy?

At any age, especially during the period of active growth, the dog may experience physiological abnormalities associated with metabolic processes. Practice shows that even the most experienced pet owners do not always choose a balanced diet. When keeping a dog on low quality food, such problems occur much less frequently, but they are not excluded.

Avitaminosis is a collective term that describes a condition in which the body lacks vitamins or trace elements. The dog feels unwell and almost always hungry. The owner may notice that the pet is drawn to new tastes or eats a full serving of food too quickly. The problem is solved by reviewing the diet and introducing vitamin supplements.

Deficiency of fiber is a common problem in dogs kept on porridge with meat. The natural diet should contain vegetables and fruits, in addition, the dog should have access to grass or other greens. If these rules are violated, the quadruped extracts fiber on its own, that is, from wood.

Indigestion is one of the first things to consider if a dog chews on tree bark. The delicacy is bitter in taste, but has astringent properties. Almost all herbivores use the bark to prevent or stop diarrhea . Carnivores resort to this method in the absence of alternatives.

Worms - the degree of damage depends on the intensity of the infestation. For example, if a dog has not received prophylaxis for a year, it is guaranteed to have vitamin deficiency, problems with food absorption, and possibly dysbacteriosis. In addition to hidden problems, the animal experiences an uncomfortable feeling in the intestines and anus. The four-legged may suffer from frequent constipation or diarrhea, uncontrolled appetite, obsessive anxiety, etc. It should be understood that some helminths live not only in the intestines and can affect the liver, heart, and brain.

Tartar - To remove plaque by chewing wood, this is normal behavior. Adult and older dogs can develop tartar - these are harder deposits that can be found on the cervical region of the teeth. The problem is not solved by cleaning at home, the pet needs the help of a doctor who will carefully remove the stone and avoid injury to the gums as much as possible.

Toothache and inflammation in the oral cavity - in the wild, a dog must cope with his ailments on his own. An inflammatory process in the mouth can quickly bring a wild animal to death due to starvation, high fever, or secondary infection. If your pet is constantly chewing on a tree, he may be trying to get rid of a bad tooth. Having noticed oddities in behavior, show the dog to a doctor to identify cracked or chipped teeth, caries, pulpitis, stomatitis and other periodontal diseases.

Psychological reasons

The desire to eat inedible is a mental disorder, which is commonly called picacism . This is a serious and very deep problem. As practice shows, it is very rare to find the cause and correct the pet's behavior.

Picacism is a violation of the mechanism of nutrition , like anorexia in humans, in other words, when a dog eats inedible things, its unconditional instinct is broken. The reasons why such violations may occur are:

  • Hunger experienced - usually dogs not only eat everything, but also hide supplies.
  • Life in a shelter or on a quarantine site in conditions of high competition for food - even a short period is enough.
  • Violence as a puppy or young.
  • Severe stress eg handover or death of owner.
  • Traumatic brain injury, neoplasm or other brain pathology.

Please note! One can speak of mental disorders only when all physiological problems are excluded.

news, dog, behavior, safety, education, advice, animals

Russian News / Animals


Dogs are a particularly curious type of animal, and many of their actions are dictated by their noses.

The owner's problem arises when the dog spends time in the home garden, where there are flower beds, perhaps even with beautiful plants full of flowers.

If you have a dog that spends a lot of time in the garden, check out this guide.

In it, the experts explained which absolutely harmless home remedies to use.

Photo: Pixabay

Sprinkle with a mixture of citrus fruits

It is necessary to hide those smells that make dogs curious; since it is impossible to clean all the soil, one of the best remedies is to cover up the smell with something stronger that can suppress it.

It is therefore necessary to use natural repellents, possibly for human consumption, that can be safely used as a repellent because they are harmless to dogs.

One of the smells that dogs hate is the smell of citrus, so you need to prepare a product that will be sprayed over the entire surface of the earth: take a spray bottle and fill two thirds with water and the remaining third with lemon or orange juice; Spray the soil and plants you want to protect twice a week.

It is not recommended to use products with a strong smell that can be toxic to four-legged friends, such as moth balls.

Cooking Chili Packs

Like humans, dogs also have a natural aversion to capsaicin, the active compound found in chili peppers that is responsible for the spiciness of this food; capsaicin has the same irritant effect on animals as it does on humans, i.e. it causes sneezing and watery eyes.

Because dogs have a keen sense of smell and are especially capable of not only recognizing danger but avoiding it, placing chili powder near plants will cause dogs to avoid the area.

Velcro bags can be prepared by placing dried peppers inside and tying and then placing them on the stem of a nearby tree, if possible: it is advisable to crush the pepper so that it can release this nutrient with greater intensity.

However, it is necessary to place the chili powder out of the reach of the pet and especially children who may inadvertently come into direct contact with the substance, this is dangerous in large quantities, not because it is toxic, but because it causes irritation.

Building a fence

To prevent intrusion into the flower bed, especially if there are fruit trees and vegetables that the dog can eat or, even worse, dirty, fences can be built to prevent intrusion.

Fences can be built with wire thread or with a beautiful fence, the height of the number of which will vary depending on the size of the dog and the ability to climb, but above all, welcome.

In any case, hazardous materials such as iron wire or even barbed wire should never be used.

Introduction of the rules

Despite these barriers and obstacles, it is good practice to give commands to the dog that must be respected. This can be done by adopting a dog at an early age and using a cookie that will only reward the dog when it has done something good.

To do this, must remain close to the dog every time the dog enters the garden, when approaching the flower bed, must impose a sit command to block the action and divert curiosity from the smells that the pet smells coming from the ground.

When seated, should be removed from the area and taken to a place far enough away, perhaps by grabbing a cookie or leaving a favorite game.

Author: Elena Gutyro

  • dog
  • behavior
  • safety
  • education
  • advice

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