Stop wildlife attacking your fruit tree
Remember wildlife such as Flying foxes, possums, mice, birds and wallabies love fruit salad trees too!
Depending on the animal eating your fruit, there are a few deterrents you can use to protect it. These range from putting up barriers, companion planting with species that deter predators, sensory repellents, or tree or fruit covers.
Barriers: Wire should be planted about 30 centimetres into the ground (small mesh may be used for mice) or a removable metal collar placed around the trunk can also be used as a deterrent.
Fencing: Erect a fence with loose wobbly wire to surround your tree. This gives the animal nothing to firmly climb on.
Tree Cover: Protect your fruit tree with a piece of shade cloth attached with pegs or garden ties.
Cover the fruit: Just get a paper bag or make one from some shade cloth and cover the fruit as it starts to grow.
Netting: You can add shade cloth or white bird netting with a maximum mesh size of around 10 mm. Set up a frame with bamboo or tomato stakes so that your netting is taut. Remove the netting each morning so that the bees and other pollinator insects have access to your fruit tree.
Motion triggered lights: Possums like to scavenge for food under the cover of darkness.
Companion Planting: Possums dislike daises, chrysanthemums, lavender, rosemary, grevilleas and citronella varieties.
Sprinkle blood and bone fertiliser around the base of your tree: Possums hate the smell and will be less inclined to eat if they can't stand the smell!
Spray garlic: Try two tablespoons of crushed garlic in one litre of hot water, leave to stand overnight, strain and then spray directly onto your foliage. This also works with chillies or Tabasco sauce.
Spray tea: Boil two litres of water; add four heaped teaspoons of Lapsang Souchong tea and leave to cool. Strain liquid and apply from a plastic spray bottle directly onto affected plants. Reapply every two weeks and always after rain. Make a fresh brew every time.
Spray made from Quassia chips: Add 100g chips to two litres of water and heat for one hour before straining. Add one tablespoon detergent. Dilute one part of the solution to four parts water and apply as a spray. Quassia chips are available at many nurseries, and are pretty effective, forming the base ingredient of many commercially available possum repellents.
Commercially available deterrents. There are a number of commercially available pest deterrents that can be used to protect your tree from various animals. Possum deterrents such as Poss-Off or Scat, work by emitting an unpleasant odour, so, when used according to the instructions on the products, claim to deter the little blighters! Just remember if you use any of these options that you will need to wash your produce before eating!
Remember, no one solution is guaranteed, and re-application of sprays should be a regular and on-going activity. It is recommended that most sprays be re-applied every two to three weeks, and after rain. Persistence is the key! Possums are creatures of habit, and habits are not easy change, so keep up the spraying, and over time the animal will move away and seek food elsewhere.
References: Possum Repellent Fact Sheet - Wildlife Victoria, our FST team.
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