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

Small green balls falling from oaks in Hunt TX
May 03, 2014 - Our live oak trees have pin-sized black and green balls falling from them (there are so may that is sounds like rain!) The balls are not associated with or fall with the catkins. Thanks for your ass...
view the full question and answer

White snails in Austin, TX.
October 01, 2014 - We walked through an undisturbed site off of Hwy. 71 near Old Bee Caves Rd. and there were little white snails on the majority of the plants on site (not specific to certain types of plants). What typ...
view the full question and answer

Desmodium spp. (beggar's lice) in Leander TX
November 11, 2011 - Our home backs up to a greenbelt on Blockhouse Creek in Williamson County, Texas (FM 1431 and Parmer Lane). The combination of the flood and drought has left our beautiful greenbelt with an abundance...
view the full question and answer

Worms in non-native snake plant from Hillsborough NC
September 17, 2011 - I purchased a snake plant this summer for my screened in porch. I did not repot it and left it in the plastic pot in came it. I was about to repot the plant to bring it in and noticed there are worm...
view the full question and answer

Larvae infesting Mexican white oak
December 16, 2010 - What larvae/worm would dwell and eat the inside of a Mexican White Oak? I planted one last November and it was doing great. The bark started cracking towards the bottom but the top was very full & gre...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center