Squirrels are cute and entertaining, at least until the little rascals raid bird feeders, dig up the flower bed, chew on tulip bulbs, or gnaw through wooden siding or wiring. Household spices containing capsaicin -- the chemical that makes hot peppers hot, are natural, humane solutions that may repel squirrels.
Dust cayenne pepper or chili powder on plants and other areas where squirrels cause problems in the garden. Additionally, sprinkle the spices on the ground around plants. Reapply often because the substances are washed away fairly quickly. Birds aren't bothered by capsaicin, so you can safely mix cayenne powder or chili powder with birdseed.
Homemade hot pepper sprays are often effective squirrel deterrents. Mix a small bottle of hot sauce and a few drops of mild liquid dish detergent with 1 gallon of water, then pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Although dish detergent is optional, it helps the hot pepper spray stick to the leaves. Spray plants as needed, then reapply after watering or a rainfall.
Hot spices provide an extra benefit in the garden because they kill many insect pests. However, capsaicin also kills honeybees, ladybugs and other helpful insects. Use spices and pepper sprays carefully, and avoid using the substances if you notice beneficial insects in your garden. To prevent drift, don't apply spices or sprays on windy days. Wear gloves to protect your skin when working with spices containing capsaicin. Never touch your eyes.
About the Author
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.