As Lowcountry residents, we are all familiar with the large presence of squirrels. Squirrels are a natural part of our environment, but they quickly turn to pests when they cause damage to your home and property. These critters not only love climbing on homes, but they also love to chew on everything from lead roof flanges and attic vents to wood shutters and siding. With all the chewing on the exterior of your home, it doesn’t take them long to make their way inside your walls or attic leading to the possibility of extensive damage to the interior. Once inside, squirrels are known to tear up insulation for nests and to chew into wires, which can even lead to a fire. Squirrel invasion and damage prevention is key in this area of the country, and luckily we’re here to help.
It is important to know that there are 4 main areas where squirrels become pests:
- Your home: in seeking to build nests
- Utilities: squirrels will run along utility power wires and cables and can even short out the transformers!
- Other wildlife: it is extremely common for squirrels to invade bird feeders, scaring off birds and taking the food and/or damaging the feeders.
- Plant life: squirrels tend to damage lawns in digging for nuts; eat fruits and grains or planted bulbs and seeds for nourishment; carry off mature nuts; and chew the bark and twigs of trees and shrubbery.
Each state has different regulations for control of wildlife, specific species, and specific animals. For this reason alone, it is critical that homeowners know the South Carolina state and local laws or contact the pest management professionals at Hilton Head Exterminators before initiating control efforts. With that in mind, there are ways to control squirrel damage and invasion through prevention.
Make routine home maintenance a habit – shield your home against squirrel entry.
There is not too much you can do to protect the exterior elements of your home from squirrels (siding, shutters, etc.); however, it is important to regularly inspect these areas for holes and fill any found. Replace loose roof shingles as soon as they are noticed and pay particular attention to the eaves. Look for holes and/or cracks, then fill or cover any gaps you find with fiber cement, sheet metal flashing, or auto body filler. Also check the gable, soffit, and power vents in the attic to make sure they have metal hardware cloth behind them that is firmly attached around the edges.
If your home has a chimney, cover it along with vents with a mesh screen to prevent squirrels and other wildlife from climbing in. Do not put the welcome mat out for these critters!
Keep squirrels off bird feeders – install feeders at least 30 feet away from your home.
Install feeders a nice distance away from your home – we recommend at least 30 feet away – and high off the ground – we recommend at least 6 feet up. Otherwise, you are asking for trouble! If your feeder is held up by a pole, that is an easy point of entry for squirrels. To combat this use petroleum jelly or specially made baffles on the poles to prevent them from being climbed. If your feeders are suspended, place plastic pipe on the rope or wire to keep squirrels from climbing down to the feeder.
Tip from the pro’s: distract squirrels from the feeders! Do this by putting out food such as corn, specifically for them. This food should be placed at least 8 feet away from any feeder on your property.
Exclude squirrels from entering your home – trim back shrubs and tree branches.
Keep all trees and shrubs near your home tightly manicured – we recommend trimming the branches and shrubs that touch or are within 6 feet of the home. This will reduce the number of pathways to your home available to squirrels.
Do your best to prevent travel along utility lines by asking your utility company to place slit strips of plastic PVC pipe over the line. The pipe will rotate if any animal trips to run across it. Remember – this should only be done by professionals.
Protect plants and your property from squirrels – and keep outdoor garbage cans covered.
There are several things you can do to protect trees, vegetable gardens, and plant bulbs from squirrel invasion and resulting damage.
- Trees: Please metal sheeting or baffles around the trunks of trees – we recommend it be 2 feet wide and 6 feet tall.
- Vegetable gardens: Fence in all gardens with wire fencing of no more than 1-inch mesh and at least 30 inches high. For additional protection from squirrels and other critters that dig into the earth, extend the fencing 6-inches below ground and 6-inches outward to prevent burrowing. If climbing is an issue, you can prevent this by including an electrified strand a few inches above ground and about 3-inches above the fence line.
- Plant bulbs: First place 1-inch mesh wire over freshly planted bulbs, then cover with mulch. This will keep them protected from squirrels and other pests.
- Repellants: When all else fails, there are repellants that target squirrels available at most nurseries and garden centers. Always follow all label directions and keep out of reach of pets and children.
Look to the professionals to help with control of squirrels – call Hilton Head Exterminators today.
Because the Lowcountry has state laws and local regulations surrounding squirrel control, the best way to ensure your home and property are protected is to give us a call and schedule a free inspection. It is not recommended that you try to trap squirrels yourself, but if you do we cannot stress enough to consult your local animal control agency first, so as not to violate any laws. Trapping is always best conducted by a licensed pest management professional – we are prepared to follow all safety protocol to reduce hazards to non-target wildlife or pets.