How to Keep Squirrels from Chewing Through Rope Light and String Lights
When it comes to outdoor decorative lighting, few things are more loved than rope lights and string lights. If you have an outdoor lighting display, you may already be aware of rope light and string light’s biggest enemy: the rodents. The main offender? Squirrels. Some people may view these creatures as nothing more than fuzzy-tailed cuties, but there are many that see them as the wire-chomping scourge they truly are. Why have rodents declared war on lighting? What can you do to combat this menace?
Why Do Squirrels Chew Wires?
A squirrel’s diet mostly consists of hard seeds, nuts, and fruit which wears down their teeth. In order to combat this, their teeth are constantly growing. So, they have to chew on things to keep their teeth from getting too long. Most squirrels will chew on things like twigs and small tree branches. However, urban squirrels have found electrical wire works just as well and typically have a delicious soy-based plastic covering.
During the Christmas season, it isn’t just the wires that draw the attention of squirrels. Christmas light bulbs are often stolen by squirrels thinking the bulbs are food. C7s and C9s are a common victim due to their vaguely acorn shape. The time of year most people put out their holiday lighting is a very hectic time for squirrels. It’s when they are busily collecting, hoarding, and burying their cache for the winter, and they are in such a hurry that they don’t take the time to double check the light bulbs for edibility.
What Can Be Done to Stop Them?
Fortunately, there are plenty of options to help keep your rope lights and string light safe from these tiny beasts, each with their own pros and cons. Some people would immediately think to use pesticides or some other method to “permanently” be rid of the critters, but this should really be a last resort. You never know what unintended creature could get ahold of the poison and in some states it is illegal to do so if you aren’t a professional exterminator. Also, it’s important to note that even if the current colony of squirrels is removed in this manner, another is very likely to move in afterwards. Squirrels are very territorial; because of this, the best way to deal with squirrels is deter them from the wires without driving them away. Once you’ve trained your local colony to leave your wires alone, they essentially start working for you by keeping any new squirrels out of your yard.
The first thing to try is using a ready-made squirrel repellent, pepper spray, mint mouthwash, or citrus solution on the rope or string lights (some suggest predator urine is very effective, but that’s not for everyone). The smell and taste of these acts as a deterrent, however they need to be reapplied at regular intervals and after a day of rain. Owl decoys are an excellent option since almost all same rodents are afraid of owls. These realistic decoys should be placed near the wires or rope lights you want to protect. Keep in mind more than one may be needed for larger yards and should be moved every now and again so that the squirrels don’t become desensitized when the owl never moves.
Or, if all else fails, take up the noble sport of falconry.
Have any other anti-squirrel methods? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. If you need to replace any chewed casualties before your next outdoor event, you can find rope light and string lights at 1000Bulbs.com or give us a call at 1-800-624-4488 for help finding what you need.