Although squirrels are endearing little critters, they love to chew and nibble on almost everything in your garden. Occasionally, they will chew through wood, becoming a nuisance by invading attics or other parts of your home. With natural, environmentally safe sprays, physical barriers, or a combination of the two, you can limit the damage squirrels do.

There are a wide range of squirrel repellent sprays available commercially that can easily be made at home for a fraction of the cost. Many of these sprays are based on cayenne pepper, which has an odor repulsive to squirrels. Here is one you can try:

Heat some water in a saucepan about halfway full.

Peel and finely chop one onion and two jalapenos, and add these to the water.

Add one tablespoon paprika and one tablespoon cayenne pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn off the stove, letting the mixture cool.

Pour it through cheesecloth or a metal strainer.

Transfer this mixture to a spray bottle, using a funnel if necessary.

Spray it over the plant, repeating every couple of weeks. You may need to do it more often if it rains.

Sprays made with putrescent eggs are also effective squirrel deterrents. You can make a similar version yourself: mix equal parts raw eggs, milk and water in a blender, together with two tablespoons of dish soap.

Squirrels don’t like the smell of ammonia. Place a rag soaked in ammonia in areas like attics that squirrels are frequenting, but keep ammonia out of the reach of children.

One thing that can’t be made yourself but is highly effective is fox urine in the form of pellets or liquid spray. Unfortunately, these have a very unpleasant odor to humans and can occasionally lure foxes into the area.

Try building a physical barrier by putting netting or fencing around vulnerable plants. Begin by driving wooden stakes into the ground with a mallet, then staple chicken wire to them. Connect the fence edges with a soldering iron or fencing clips and hooks. Extend the fence underground by digging a trench twelve inches deep, inserting the fencing, then packing tightly around it with dirt. For an additional deterrent, spray the mesh with cayenne pepper. Planting chives or garlic around the perimeter of the garden also discourages squirrels. Pinwheels or CDs tied to strings do occasionally work to scare squirrels, but squirrels eventually get used to flashing objects.

There are some things you can do even before planting your flowers. Mix in some cayenne pepper with your garden seeds. To avoid having squirrels dig up and eat your bulbs as they search for buried nuts, treat your bulbs before putting them in the ground. Bring water to a boil, turn it off and steep cayenne pepper in it for about four to five minutes. Let the water cool, then put the bulbs in to soak for one hour, making sure that the water isn’t hot, as this kills bulbs. When you plant the bulbs, they will give off an odor that is naturally repellent to squirrels.

Another solution is to buy a motion detector sprinkler. Equipped with an infrared sensor, this sprinkler activates when it detects movement, spraying out a burst of water that frightens away squirrels.

If all else fails, you can try trapping the squirrels. However, this is most likely a short-term solution; once the squirrels have been removed, there is a good chance others will come to take their place. You can purchase a trap that doesn’t harm squirrels at a hardware store. Set the trap in the yard and bait it with shelled corn or nuts. Wear thick gloves when handling a cage with a squirrel in it to avoid being bitten or scratched.

Hopefully, this will provide you with some useful tools to begin reducing the damage caused by squirrels around your home.