Squirrels: Another Cotton Plant Pest

This past week has been a very trying one. Our neighborhood squirrels have discovered our cotton plants.  The squirrels have  decided cotton bolls are a tasty treat.  In addition to chowing down on our special woodpecker suet cakes, the squirrels are chowing down our cotton bolls.  We suspect the squirrel with a brown patch on his hindquarter to be the culprit; he is very cocky.  He also enjoys eating the cotton bolls in our potted plants and under our popular tree ( I guess it’s a picnic for him).  The greedy squirrel cleared off about 15 cotton bolls in one day.  Sadly, this was our beautiful green cotton plants.  We did manage to salvage 5 bolls that our now encased in a mesh net.  We are keeping our fingers crossed. The brown cotton plants lost about 4 bolls.  I guess he has a preference for the green cotton. In order to combat this pest without deadly consequences,  we concocted a mixture of cayenne pepper, fungicide spray, and orvus paste to spray on the cotton plants. In  addition, we visited our local Home Depot to purchase poultry wire to keep the remaining bolls safe.  Now our brown cotton looks like it is enclosed in an iron maiden. At first we were concerned about the leaves getting a little squashed but at this point the plant is focusing it’s energy on the cotton bolls, so it is not producing anymore leaves or blooms.  Once the bolls develop, some commercial growers defoliate the cotton plants to direct all the plant’s energy into developing the bolls (Growing Cotton by Phreadde and Dan Davis, Spin-Off magazine, Fall 2009).

If you recall our earlier post, the Little Cotton That Could…..well, the squirrel ate the two little cotton bolls that were trying to grow!  Poor Pima! Hopefully, next year we will be better prepared since we survived the dreaded brown marmorated stink bug, fungus and now the pesky squirrel.  What lessons we have learned while trying to grow cotton in Baltimore!

Here are some pictures of our poor cotton bolls destroyed by our pesky squirrel and our brown cotton wearing it’s new outfit: The Iron Maiden:

Porchulaca with cotton debris

Porchulaca with cotton debris

Cotton: Bits & Pieces

Cotton: Bits & Pieces

Brown Cotton:  Iron Maiden

Brown Cotton: Iron Maiden

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Bonnie said,

    I’ve always liked squirrels, but they can’t mess with our fiber

  2. 3

    Middle Man said,

    Good luck with your deterrent. In the meantime, you might enjoy this:

    http://caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/the-squirrels-tale/


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