Squirrels are intelligent rodents that love peaches. In fact, a single squirrel can single-handedly feast on the fruit of an entire peach tree in one season. Squirrels pillaging the trees of family gardens also put the family at risk for diseases and parasites. So, while squirrels appear cute and cuddly, they are best kept away from yards and trees.
Squirrels feed on the fruit of peach trees while it is still unripe, causing the peaches to fall from the tree and die. Squirrels have excellent memories and will return to a tree even after being captured and relocated. These little thieves can be especially damaging to those growing peaches commercially, especially if the orchards are not spaced correctly.
Squirrels awaken from their winter hibernation and are ready for feasting in late February and early March. At this time, they will begin exploring possible feeding locations for summertime. Once summer approaches, they return to the trees and feed on the ripening peaches.
During the spring months, squirrel's tree exploration contributes to the spread of pollen. Whenever they brush against the blossoms, pollen attaches to their fur and rubs off on other peach flowers during their travels. Their distribution of the peach pits also contributes to new trees growing.
A ounce of prevention makes all the difference when dealing with squirrels. Prevention techniques include attaching sheet metal to the trunks of trees, spacing trees at least 15 feet apart and cutting off any branches that are 8 feet off a structure or within 8 feet of the ground. These precautions prevent squirrels from gaining access to the tree. If squirrels are already stealing fruit, squirrel nets placed around the ripening fruit or moth balls hung from the tree near the fruit are useful repellents.
Many desperate gardeners think that applying Tabasco sauce to the branches of trees will deter squirrels--squirrels are sensitive to spices such as cayenne pepper, which in fact is a consistent ingredient in squirrel repellents. But Tabasco sauce should not be placed on trees; its high acidity can injure the tree and cause discoloration of the leaves.