Catching the fruit eater

dave s
Thu, 22 Apr 2010 11:06:28 PDT
I can vouch for gray squirrels both eating and transplanting crocus.  There
are some crocus-filled lawns in my neighborhood that can only the the result
of decades of squirrel work :D

On Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 2:01 PM, Stephen Putman <>wrote:

> I don't usually comment on these items as it gets me called nasty names.
>  More than 20 years ago I had a large native eastern (US) wildflower
> garden in an urban setting, but adjacent to the "world's largest in-city
> park" - Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.  Not too much trouble with
> rabbits except when I tried to establish a planting of nut bushes and
> the rabbits kept eating them down to the ground before they could be
> established.  I finally shot and ate the rabbits.
> Later, I planted lots of Crocus in a "non-native" section of the garden
> (which I could observe through an upstairs window).  The next spring I
> noticed some of that bed being scuffed up.  Then the scuffs became holes
> and crocus began being spread about on the surface.  I looked out that
> second floor window one day in time to see an eastern chipmunk digging
> and eating crocus bulbs.  Taking the law into my own hands, and as I was
> pointing almost directly down at the ground, I used a .22 cal. rifle to
> dispatch the chipmunk.  In its cheek pouches there were over a dozen
> small crocus bulbs.  The garden was surrounded by a stone wall (much of
> it laid up dry), and it was a chipmunk sex camp, because there seemed to
> be an endless parade of chipmunks.  I finally wound up trapping or
> shooting more than two dozen of the little darlings.  So long as I was
> willing to do that each year both spring and fall, I had crocus.  If I
> quit for a year, the crocus would rapidly begin to disappear.
> For us gardening is mostly a pastime.  For some animals the contents of
> our gardens are a convenient source of food, and life.
> shp
> On 4/22/2010 1:35 PM, Adam Fikso wrote:
> > Rabbits ate off nearly all the azalea buds I had (nearly 200 flowers by
> > estimate).  No other animal is likely as a  possibiity in our area---nor
> > birds, except, possibly a pair of cardinals.No woodchucks any more, and
> the
> > buds were too high.  No deer close by.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Jane McGary"<>
> > To: "Pacific Bulb Society"<>
> > Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2010 11:20 AM
> > Subject: [pbs] Catching the frit eater
> >
> >
> >> For the past two years my bulb collection has been ravaged by an
> >> animal that crops off the flowering stems of Fritillaria,
> >> Ornithogalum, Calochortus, and a few other genera, resulting in a
> >> loss of seed crops, not to mention extreme anger and frustration on
> >> the part of the gardener. I didn't know what was doing it. I
> >> suspected rabbits, which have invaded the frames and eaten the
> >> foliage of Crocus; but it seemed to me that rabbits would also eat
> >> the frit foliage, and this animal was ignoring nonflowering plants. I
> >> knew it wasn't mice, because the stems were bitten off higher than a
> >> mouse could reach when the stems extended above the netting with
> >> which I was trying to protect them. It wasn't deer, because it was
> >> happening when the frame lights were lowered. Gophers are rare here,
> >> and there was no sign of their excavations, nor were bulbs being dug
> >> up. I considered the mountain beaver (Oplodonta), a genus and indeed
> >> family endemic to the Pacific Northwest and present in my woods, but
> >> it's a big animal (about the size of a groundhog) that would have
> >> trampled plants as well as eating them.
> >>
> >> Finally, yesterday evening, I spotted it: a chipmunk. I immediately
> >> baited and placed a live trap near where I had seen it exit the
> >> frame, and this morning it was there in the cage. Today it's going on
> >> a very long ride, and it won't have fun doing it, because I'm
> >> combining the chipmunk relocation with my collie's vet appointment,
> >> and Winnie the collie gets to stare at the little devil for a few miles.
> >>
> >> I had begin to suspect chipmunks after noticing one biting the
> >> emerging foliage off a potted Japanese maple near the house. Possibly
> >> they are attracted to plant material that's unusually sweet in
> >> spring, and the nectar-rich liliaceous flowers and their succulent
> >> stems would qualify. Interestingly, they did not take some of the
> >> California Fritillaria species (section Liliorrhiza) or species in
> >> the Imperiales section (F. imperialis, F. eduardii, etc.); perhaps
> >> these contain some compound that is offensive to predators. Nor have
> >> they taken many tulips in the frame, though deer bite off the stems
> >> of those in the garden.
> >>
> >> I'm told that chipmunks are not common in urban areas, but if you're
> >> seeing this kind of damage to flowering stems, watch for them. They
> >> are easy to trap in squirrel-size Havahart live traps baited with
> >> sunflower seeds (I stick the seeds to the trigger platform with
> >> honey). Because they're a native mammal I hesitate to kill them; I
> >> will have no such reservations once I move nearer the city and have
> >> to protect my bulbs from the introduced eastern gray squirrel, or
> >> worse yet from rats.
> >>
> >> Jane McGary
> >> Northwestern Oregon, USA
> >>
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> >>
> >>
> >
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