There is nothing more disheartening than seeing your young vegetable seedlings, vegetables, or newly planted flower bulbs being gnawed and chewed to bits by squirrels. There are many commercial squirrel deterrents that come in spray form that are made for use on your garden plants to stop the furry felons. Most, but not all of these commercial products consistently include one ingredient: CAYENNE PEPPER!



Since cayenne pepper can be readily purchased for a fairly cheap price, and is safe, it makes it a good candidate for homemade squirrel deterrent remedies that can, at least partially, imitate these store bought products. Squirrels have a tremendous sense of taste and smell and they simply do not like the smell or the taste of heat that comes from cayenne pepper. More accurately, capsaicin,  the substance that gives cayenne its heat.. Therefore, if you are a “do it yourselfer” and don’t want to spend bucks on the commercial products there are several recipes for squirrel repellent sprays, using cayenne pepper or some form of it, that you can make your own and test to see if it is effective for your particular squirrel problem. If it it works, and you get lazy later on, you can then seek out the commercial products which contain cayenne pepper or capsaicin.


I was able to locate at least one post where a scientist found that squirrels were highly sensitized to capsaicin and rejected it in parts as low as 1-10 ppm (This is a very low concentration). See   

There is no homemade”magic bullet” that will stop these very agile and smart rodents from ever again munching on one of your plants. However, if you do any research on repelling squirrels the one consistent ingredient you see is cayenne pepper.  Again, it is contained in many of the commercial products designed to keep squirrels away, and which products are guaranteed to work. Even local governmental animal control websites recommend it for squirrel problems. Remember, controlling squirrels has to be part of a squirrel control plan. You can’t simply sprinkle or spray some cayenne pepper or commercial product containing it around your garden once and then say it doesn’t work when you see a squirrel in your garden three weeks later.  It requires vigilance. The succcess of any squirrel repellent remedy is also dependent on things such as weather (rain will require reapplication), squirrel population, and the size of the area sought to be controlled. If  a recipe to keep squirrels away  works for a short period of time and there is intermittent rain, then reapply it.

In summary, some people swear by squirrel repellent products and recipes based upon cayenne pepper and its derivatives, some say it worked moderately (some repellent is better than none!), and fewer say it didn’t work. These recipes are a cheap method of trying for yourself… so what is the harm in trying?



Below I have included several recipes which you will notice are merely slightly different variations of the same “hot pepper” theme. It all depends on what your hot pepper source is, e.g. cayenne pepper, actual chilie peppers,  jalapeno peppers, or hot sauce. Note: If any of these recipes use cayenne pepper spice instead of a liquid hot sauce strain your “brew” through cheesecloth, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. Otherwise, your sprayer will get clogged with the larger wet granules of the pepper.

1. Hot Pepper Repellant Spray

This recipe uses yellow onion, an actual jalapeno pepper, and cayenne pepper.  The recipe is at Urban Wildlife Rescue, Inc  Here.

2. Cayenne Pepper Spray

This recipe uses water, Murphy’s Oil Soap, and  cayenne pepper.  See the complete recipe Here.

3. Hot Pepper Spray

This recipe uses only crushed chilies and water. Read it Here.

4. Another Hot Pepper Spray

Using cayenne pepper, water, and horticultural oil. See it Here.

5. Squirrel Repellent Spray

This last recipe uses hot pepper sauce (like Frank’s HotSauce), Water, and a small amount of liquid detergent. You can find the recipe at Evergreen Animal Protecive League Here.


Cayenne pepper and capsaicin are at the forefront of anysquirrel repellent product or home brew. The ingredients are cheap, the recipes easy, and it would be worth the time of any gardener who is serious about squirrel squirrel control of just testing one of these recipes. They may actually save some of your vegetables, plants or bulbs! 


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