War Against the Squirrels

When I first came to the Midwest (never having heard the term "Midwest" and thinking that Chicago was the East, near New York, but that's another story) to go to Well-Regarded University, I fell in love with the squirrels on campus. They had no predators and were relatively tame. I would feed them and I still bear a slight slight scar on my right hand from the time a squirrel came up close to me after I'd run out of nuts. The squirrel started scratching at me, thinking I was hiding more in my fist. I went to student health, and found myself saying the same thing a friend of mine had said when he was scratched by a squirrel: No, I don't know which squirrel it was.

After all, birds are banded, and I'm just reading about the Body Farm in Tennessee, where in one experiment, scientists have dabbed orange paint on flies to mark them, but the squirrels at WRU were free and anonymous. And after the squirrel wounded me, I still fed him, or his brethren.

So I like squirrels.

Except when they dig up the geraniums and begonias in the flower boxes on the deck. Which they've been doing every day since we planted them. Today I found some of the plants all dug up and lying on their sides. I went on line and found one suggestion that seemed sensible: to get rocks and spray them with a vinegar and cayenne solution.

I did this. And set the rocks between the flowers. Supposedly squirrels don't like pepper. At the condo, we planted bulbs and in one flower bed sprinkled red pepper flakes to keep out the squirrels. We used moth balls on the other half, and in the spring we had about the same amount of crocuses and tulips on each side. Which proves that both were equally good--or equally bad--deterrents.