En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - April 15, 2011

From: Tampa, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: red maple bark damage by squirrels
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We have two acres of land, largely covered by various oaks and cherry laurels -and, after many hours of cutting down chinese tallow trees..finally some red maples. Our problem is that we also have a squirrel 'infestation' (I like squirrels, but this place is crawling with them!), due to neighbor (with a tiny yard) who provides the squirrels with a constant meal of peanuts and corn. Our little maples appear to be being chewed by the squirrels, but I'm not 100% sure it's them. I'd consider the possibility of deer (we've seen one in a nearby pasture), except that the chewing is at the base of the trees (obviously moving up as the trees grow) -not at the level I'd expect deer to chew. Someone else mentioned something like 'bark split'(?), which I haven't researched. So, my questions are -What do you think is most likely the case? Should I try to 'mend'/repair the trunks? If it's squirrels..are they doing it just to chew (I concluded, some seasons ago, they were nipping off my husband's tomato plants for the moisture during a drought - In that case, would putting water out for them help?!). I know my questions are rambling, but your ideas would be greatly appreciated!

ANSWER:

There are many reports of damage to stems and bark of red maples by squirrels.  In New England, red maple sap has a relatively high concentration of sugar, and squirrels like to take bites out of the trunk, let the sap ooze out and dry for some time, leaving a "maple sugar" residue for the squirrels to enjoy later.  A second New England account confirms sugaring by squirrels.  I doubt that the sugar content of red maples in Florida would come anywhere close to that in New England, since the content is greatly increased by low winter temperatures.  But even a low level of sugar might attract squirrels.

You could discourage the squirrels by placing a shield of hardware cloth or other closely woven wire loosely around the trunk of the trees. This would protect the bark, but squirrels have been reported to nibble on the young leaf buds too, so keep checking. And maple buds have been known to attract deer as well.

 

 

More Pests Questions

Removing yaupon hollies from yard in Austin
July 04, 2009 - We recently moved into a home w/ way too many and much too large (20-30') yaupon holly's in the back yard. I had some of them cut down, but they keep coming up from the roots of the old trees. How ...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of Aphids on Asclepias plants in Brea, CA.
July 23, 2012 - I grow asclepsias or MILKWEED for the benefit of Monarchs. At times I have aphids consuming the leaves. How can I destroy the aphids without harming the Monarch eggs? Thank you very much.
view the full question and answer

Topical treatment for poison ivy rash
November 12, 2008 - I would like to know a topical treatment for the poison ivy rash
view the full question and answer

Hydrangea with Pest and Sun Issues
July 26, 2015 - My hydrangea is in trouble. Something is eating holes in the leaves which then turn brown on the edges (the holes and the tips of the leaves are also burned). It looks like someone burned them with ...
view the full question and answer

Bugs on Arizona Cypress in Bellwood IL
August 27, 2011 - I live in Illinois and have an Arizona Cypress that looks like it is dying but I notice today it has bugs inside its cone. Can you tell me why and what can I do?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center