Tag Archive: Stripping

Bark Stripping Squirrels

Squirrel bark stripping damage on a Chinese elm.

Squirrel bark stripping damage on a Chinese elm. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension

Barked stripped from the trunk of a Chinese elm.

Barked stripped from the trunk of a Chinese elm. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension

The squirrels are at it again! This time they are stripping the bark from the trunks of my Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) trees. Squirrels feed on the bark of a number of other different tree species including oaks, maples, and pecans. There are a few theories as to why squirrels feed on tree bark.

  1. Pregnant Females – Pregnant squirrels don’t eat prior to giving birth, but it is thought they chew on bark to help them bear the pain of pregnancy.
  2. Water Source – This theory isn’t very reputable due to the fact that squirrels have been seen feeding on bark come rain or shine.
  3. Food Source – The inner bark layer (phloem) contains sugar and nutrients which help satisfy a squirrel’s appetite.

The good news is squirrels generally do not eat enough bark to kill a tree. A squirrel will typically only strip a half inch section of bark about three inches long. However, the squirrels in my yard were much hungrier this year as you can see in the featured pictures.

 

PG

Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/18/bark-stripping-squirrels/