When The Squirrels Have Strawberry Breath

After conferring with multiple backyard gardeners, I learned that I’m definitely not the only one who has had their day ruined by an over-zealous squirrel (I had a hunch that this was the case, but a bit of commiserating goes a long way.)

So, when I made my way back to the nursery this weekend, I had my eye out for something that may deter my furry neighbors.

I ended up choosing a pre-mixed hot-pepper spray. The spray contains capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers, and is what gives them their delightful heat. The logic behind spraying the plants with a diluted capsaicin solution: any creature who takes a bite out of the ordinarily tasty leaves or fruits will be greeted by an unpleasant spicy taste which will hopefully deter them from continuing to eat more.

This felt like a pretty natural & safe way to discourage Mr. & Mrs. Backyard Squirrel from feasting on the literal fruits of my labor. 

I applied it to my two hanging baskets of strawberries right away.

By the way, I snagged two more strawberry plants while I was at the nursery, and potted them. The growth on the plants in my hanging baskets is set back quite a bit from the digging and chewing, so I wanted to give myself a better chance at some home grown strawberries. And trust me, these new berries ALSO got a heavy misting of hot-pepper spray.

I also put multiple squash seedlings in the ground on Sunday, but didn’t spray them. When I checked on the garden the next morning there was a perfect bite taken out of one of the zucchini leaves. I can’t be certain it was the act of a squirrel. But, I decided to make a much broader application of the hot pepper spray.

It’s recommended that you apply the spray once it cools down a bit in the evening, so that the waxy spray can form a resilient coating overnight. So, on Monday evening, I misted the spicy liquid on all of my plants.

It’s only been a couple of days (it’s Wednesday night)… but so far I haven’t seen any more evidence of munching. So, it’s with cautious excitement that I think I’ve found a great solution.

Have you ever tried a store-bought hot-pepper spray? What about a home-made variety?


  1. 😀 Good thing you found a solution. I grow my strawberries in pots, on the windowsill of a second-story balcony, so I am lucky that no critter tried to take a bite. But I’ll remember the solution if I ever get the chance to grow a real garden.

    1. Luckily you get the berries all to yourself in the meantime! Knock on wood, but so far so good, the hot spray seems to be working.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *