How to repel birds & squirrels from fruit trees

Written by erin harty
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How to repel birds & squirrels from fruit trees
Squirrels steal fruit from trees and damage the bark. (squirrel image by Tanya McConnell from

Squirrels and birds are two of the most common pests associated with fruit trees, and measures should be taken to protect the trees and their fruit. Repelling these pests is simple. Bird netting, glitter tape and a homemade squirrel repellent are relatively inexpensive and humane ways of keeping pests from fruit trees. Use these tools to save money and the save fruit the trees yield.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Bird netting
  • Twine
  • 1/8-inch dowels (2-feet long)
  • Glitter tape
  • ½ ounce hot sauce
  • 1 pint water
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp. dish soap
  • Spray bottle

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  1. 1

    Lay out the bird netting. Lay a 12x12 foot piece of netting on the ground next to the fruit tree. Inspect the netting for any holes that birds can get through. Patch small holes with a bit of twine.

  2. 2

    Cover fruit trees with the netting. With the aid of another person, pick the net up and let it billow above the tree like a parachute. Pull the corners down toward the base of the tree and gather all the edges.

  3. 3

    Secure the netting. Use twine to tie the net securely around the bottom of the tree. Use a bigger piece of netting if the branches get pulled downward when secure.

  4. 4

    Attach glitter tape to netting. Glitter tape looks like strips of aluminium foil and the light they reflect deters birds. Tie three-foot glitter strips to the ends of two-foot long, 1/8-inch dowels and insert the dowels into the netting so the tape flies free. Use four or five strips per tree.

  5. 5

    Make a squirrel repellent mixture. Squirrels are repelled by the smell and taste of hot spices. Mix hot sauce, water, chilli powder and dish soap and pour it into a clean spray bottle. This natural repellent does not affect the trees or other plants but keeps squirrels away.

  6. 6

    Spray repellent around fruit trees. Saturate the ground around the base of the fruit trees as well as the bottom 12 inches of the trunk. Repeat the process as needed.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep fruit trees short if they will be covered with bird netting each year. Trees over six feet are more difficult to cover.
  • To protect individual pieces of fruit from birds instead of the whole tree, cut the feet off pantyhose and slip them around the developing fruit. Tie the ends closed with dental floss. The pantyhose will stretch as the fruit grows and birds are repelled by the synthetic fibres.
  • Check bird netting frequently to make sure it stays securely tied. Birds will find any opening and often get trapped and die inside.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after mixing the squirrel repellent. Hot sauce and chilli powder will irritate the eyes.

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