stop squirrels eating pumpkins

How to Keep Squirrels Away from Pumpkins

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The leaves are changing color and the air is getting cooler. That can only mean one thing – it’s time to start carving pumpkins! But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t want a squirrel taking over your pumpkin patch. 

Besides growing squirrel deterrent plants around your garden and farm, here are a few tips to keep squirrels and other animals from eating pumpkins:

Why Are Squirrels Eating Pumpkins This Year? 

As the leaves change and the weather turns chilly, many animals begin to fill their bellies in anticipation of winter. Fortunately, pumpkins are not a squirrel’s favorite food, but if they are available and other food sources are not, they will eat your pumpkins. 

A dry summer can explain why there are fewer preferred foods that squirrels like to eat, which drives them to your pumpkin patch or your carved pumpkins.

The good news is that there are many easy things you can do to stop them from destroying your pumpkins. Most of the items in this article are regular household items that you already have on hand. Simple spray-on solutions and DIY sprays all can work to save your pumpkin patch.

How To Stop Squirrels From Eating Pumpkins

Four simple household items that will keep squirrels out of your pumpkin patch are:

  • Vaseline: Spread Vaseline (petroleum jelly) all over your pumpkins, this is an easy trick, and it won’t wash off in rain or harsh weather.
  • Cayenne pepper: Sprinkle cayenne pepper all around the perimeter of your pumpkin patch. This simple trick will deter squirrels and other animals from entering the patch.
  • White distilled vinegar: Spray white distilled vinegar on and around your pumpkin patch.
  • Easy DIY spray: Mix 2 TBSP hot pepper sauce (or crushed hot peppers) with water and a few drops of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle, shake to mix, and spray this hot sauce mixture on and around your pumpkins to keep squirrels, rodents, and insects away from your pumpkin patch.
  • Pet hair: gather dog hair or cat hair and place it around the pumpkins to trick the squirrels that there might be other natural predators around.

Squirrels have very sensitive noses, which is why the above solutions work so well. However, if you remember this one fact when looking for items that deter squirrels, remember that they are very sensitive to strong odors.

See more tips on keeping squirrels away from yard and how to eliminate squirrels.

How to Prevent Squirrels From Eating Jack-o-Lanterns

When you are getting ready to carve your pumpkins and want to keep critters at bay, be sure first to select the freshest pumpkins available for carving. 

You want the freshest pumpkins you can find because the older the pumpkin, the more quickly it will break down when you carve it. 

A good rule of thumb is that the older the pumpkin, the quicker it will break down, attracting squirrels and other animals, which you want to avoid.

Don’t carve pumpkins too early. If the weather is warm and you carve your Jack-o-Lanterns too early, this will also speed up the deterioration process and become open-season for squirrels and other kinds of animals and rodents.

Here are a few more options to keep squirrels from eating your carved pumpkins. 

Vinegar on Pumpkins

White distilled vinegar sprayed on the Jack-o-Lanterns works well to deter squirrels, ants, and other insects. 

Windex on Pumpkins

Windex, because of its strong smell, also works to deter squirrels if sprayed directly on and inside the carved pumpkins. 

Follow with Pledge after spraying the pumpkins with Windex to make this method even more effective. 

For some reason, this combination of smells works wonders at keeping squirrels and other animals at bay.


Hairspray does work sprayed on carved pumpkins and growing pumpkins, but the downside is it has to be reapplied often, or it will stop working.

Citronella Candles

If you burn candles in your Jack-o-Lanterns, use citronella candles. Their pungent smell will keep squirrels out of pumpkins.

How Do You Keep Squirrels From Growing Pumpkins? 

Here are a few tips to keep squirrels off the pumpkins you are growing.

  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper around the perimeter of your patch to keep squirrels and other small animals and insects at bay
  • White distilled vinegar sprayed on and around the pumpkins
  • Vaseline spread on pumpkins will deter squirrels
  • Spray any commercial animal repellent around your pumpkin patch and on pumpkins

What To Put On Pumpkins to Keep Squirrels Away?

The best household item to use on pumpkins to keep squirrels from eating them is vaseline. It is easy to apply and works well to keep squirrels away.

As discussed in the above sections, you can also spray on with white distilled vinegar, a homemade DIY mixture of red pepper flakes, water, and a few drops of dish detergent, Windex, lacquer spray or hairspray. Some people might even try using stronger odor such as putrescent whole egg solids (rotten eggs) to deter these animals from eating your pumpkins.

You might want to avoid spraying on the pumpkin flower because you don’t want to repel the bees and butterflies.

You can do many things to deter hungry squirrels from eating your pumpkins, but the easiest way is to simply feed them. Put out a variety of their favorite foods like; peanuts, sunflower seeds, stale bread pieces, or stale crackers, and they will happily eat those in place of your pumpkins.

What Other Animals Eat Pumpkins at Night?

Many nocturnal animals hunt food at night, so if your pumpkins are being eaten, look to a host of other animals that could be the culprit. The list is long, but the solutions are the same. Common animals that will eat your pumpkins at night include:

  • Groundhogs
  • Deer mice
  • Chipmunks
  • Porcupines
  • Birds
  • Raccoons
  • Deer
  • Opossums

Of course, insect pests could be getting at your pumpkins, too. The most common intruders are ants, squash bugs, and fruit flies. 


How do you spray pumpkin to keep squirrels away?

You can create a homemade squirrel repellent spray by mixing water with commercial hot sauce, chili peppers, or vinegar. These ingredients produce a strong scent and taste that squirrels find unpleasant. Spray the mixture directly onto the pumpkin or around the area where the pumpkins are located to deter squirrels from approaching.

Why do squirrels like to eat pumpkins?

Squirrels are attracted to pumpkins because they are a good source of nutrition, particularly during the fall when natural food sources may become scarce. Pumpkins contain seeds and flesh that provide squirrels with essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins.

Is there a homemade squirrel repellent?

A homemade squirrel repellent can be made by combining ingredients like cayenne pepper, hot sauce, garlic powder, or vinegar with water. These ingredients create a strong odor and taste that deters squirrels from eating or approaching the treated area.

Final Words

Fall can be a fun time of year. The leaves are turning beautiful colors, the weather is getting chilly, cuddling up in front of a fire with a good book and carving Jack-o-Lanterns are all fun Fall activities. 

Animals, especially squirrels, destroying your pumpkin patch or your carved pumpkins is not so fun but luckily you have a full arsenal of solutions to deter the little creatures and other food-seeking animals.

As we move into colder weather, feeding squirrels is the best way to avoid the problem before it starts. Putting out their favorite foods like sunflower seeds, nuts, peanuts, stale bread, and crackers are all preferred foods over pumpkins.

Remember that squirrels have sensitive noses so anything that has a strong odor will encourage them to keep moving away from the area where you have applied the strong scents.

We hope you found this article helpful. Enjoy pumpkin season!

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*image by Wirestock/depositphotos

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