Each October, it’s an American pastime to visit a local farm and go pumpkin picking. Whether you’re going with your family or your significant other, it’s one of the greatest fall activities that you look forward to every year. Bringing the perfect pumpkin home and carving it completes the perfect autumn. You light it and gently place it on your front step or porch, looking forward to enjoying the sight until Halloween passes. The next morning you wake up, thrilled to take another look at the jack-o-lantern, only to find your beloved pumpkin destroyed by squirrels. It’s an incredibly common occurrence that leaves people baffled when it comes to preventing nature’s act of vandalism. Even if you are lucky enough to avoid squirrels, bugs can take over, and you’re left wondering if there is a way to prevent animals and bugs from ruining your pumpkin.
Why are squirrels and chipmunks eating my pumpkins?
Photo Credit: extremepumpkins.com
What can I do?
The best way to deter local critters from munching on your carved pumpkin is to make it as least tasty as possible. You can do this in a variety of ways, many of which allow you to make use of things already lying around your house.
- Hair spray- Spray your pumpkin daily to deter squirrels. Not only does it taste bad to them, but it’s sticky which is unpleasant. The plus side of spraying your pumpkin with hair spray is that it adds a slight shine to your perfect carved work of art.
- Petroleum jelly or vapor rub- Squirrels that approach your pumpkin will find a slippery, goopy pumpkin to be unattractive. Much like hairspray, applying petroleum jelly can result in a slight sheen which looks great during the day.
- Hot sauce or pepper flakes- Believe it or not, squirrels hate hot sauce and pepper flakes. Cover your pumpkin in hot sauce or sprinkle pepper flakes around the pumpkin once you place it on your porch or step. Be careful when using this strategy because things can become messy very quickly.
- Owl decoys- Owls are natural predators of squirrels. Any time of the year, placing owl statues can deter squirrels from your property. While this method isn’t exactly fool-proof, it can help.
- Don’t carve too early- Carving your pumpkin too early will lead to natural decay. Pumpkins, when used for decoration are still perishable fruits after all!
What bugs eat carved pumpkins?
Fruit flies will inevitably be attracted to your carved pumpkin. As the fruit decomposes, the innards will break down and attract flies. Have you ever left fruit out just a little bit too long in your kitchen? Fruit flies seem to come out of nowhere, breeding quickly and lingering. This same behavior applies to pumpkins, especially those that aren’t completely cleaned out. Removing the guts inside the pumpkin should be meticulous in order to preserve the pumpkin and avoid insects.
How to Preserve a Jack-o-Lantern
It’s a truly depressing sight, watching the smile on your jack-o-lantern slowly cave in as it rots. Does it have to be that way? You can extend the life of your beloved gourd by taking steps during and after carving for preservation. While it won’t last a lifetime, you’ll certainly get more enjoyment out of your creation.
Make sure you thoroughly hollow out the inside. No seeds or pumpkin guts should stay in the carved pumpkin to avoid mold and dehydration. Once you expose the inside of the pumpkin, oxygen begins to break down the fruit, starting the decaying process. Try cutting a hole in the back of the pumpkin rather than disconnecting the stem. The stem flows nutrients to the pumpkin, making it last longer. Another strategy is placing the pumpkin in your basement or garage refrigerator every night before you go to bed, it’ll be safe from unwanted pests and retain shape longer. You can also use glow sticks or battery operated candles to light up your masterpiece for an additional layer of preservation and safety.
Top Tip For Trick or Treating: Use insect repellent before you leave for the night to avoid mosquito and tick bites. Avoid jumping into piles of leaves where ticks can lurk.