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Pesky Porcupines

Posted by Ben Applegate 
Pesky Porcupines
February 18, 2013 11:37PM
When I first saw the damage to our young trees, my heart sank. Scaffold limbs pendantly hanging from the trunk, attached by a fraction of the former wood fiber. Other branches cliped clean and prostrate on the ground. At first it was the leaves they were after but obviously the fruit would succumb as well. Interestingly they had their favorites, honeycrisp and empire at the top of their list. After a sporting neighbor took care of a few I thought things might improve. This past August, it started again with the leaves and interestingly on the very same mutilated honeycrisp trees from the year before. Our empires which had set a small crop the year before were without fruit (spring frost damaged flower buds) and did not see much browsing, but our Liberties did. Our fencing system (polyproplyene mesh) designed to keep out deer, which it has done well is now riddled with holes from porcupine. I decided to put out traps at the various openings and caught eleven this fall. It seems that we are rich in porcupines or maybe there is some kind of fisher deficiency. I have investigated putting in a metal livestock fence in combination with some electric but am put off by the cost. If you have any deterrent strategies for porcupine please let me know.

Eden Orchards
Zone 3 in Vermont

Eden Orchards
Zone 3 in Vermont

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/18/2013 11:40PM by Ben Applegate.
Re: Pesky Porcupines
March 26, 2013 07:41PM
Porcupines found some of our trees also, this past fall. Interestingly, only Liberty was eaten, surrounded by a large varieties of others which were untouched. They returned on several occasions, but only to these trees. I tried a large havahart trap, which of course didn't work. Capsaicin may work, which I am going to try on the Liberties. The University of Nebraska did a serious test :

DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Raising fishers might work.
Re: Pesky Porcupines
March 27, 2013 04:26AM
rodents hate caster oil , especially on their feet that they have to lick clean.... same family?? Give it a try ..? Tell me how it goes ..
Re: Pesky Porcupines
September 09, 2015 09:09PM
We've put sheet metal cones around pear trees that they love... namely Southworth and Patten... and a few others.
then a full three foot horizontal disc around them for the trees that have branches low enough for a big porcupine reach and climb. yes they were going up, chewing off a branch and then coming down to eat the unripe fruit.
What kind a trap did you use Ben?

Morninglory Farm
Zone 3b* in Ontario
Re: Pesky Porcupines
November 16, 2019 03:04AM
I lost a lot of trees this year. Daughters and I had made two trips up to our orchard (4.5 hour drive) and planted 50 2 year old trees we had grafted at home and grown in a seedling bet to get them to size. We also planted other things as well, but those two rows of 25 were nearly all eaten, from the top down. I was laid up by a car accident a week after the first two trips, had multiple spinal proceedures ending about a month ago. Went up as soon as I could handle the car ride. all of the northern most row, and all but 4 of the row just to the south of that. just short peeled stumps.

Found a porky in one of our larger apple trees. One prickle rat down. have seen them in the area before, and chased them out, but this was the first time we had a lot of damage. Deer cages and trunk guards didnt matter to them. Hopefully the stumps put out suckers for me to graft onto. that was a lot of holes to dig. if I can at least not have to dig them again that would be something. All antique cider apples on 106 <sigh>.


Tom Kleffman
currently building a fruit orchard from scratch on the Bayfield Peninsula of Wisconsin, 4 miles south of Lake Superior, dead center of the snow belt, zone 5.
Re: Pesky Porcupines
November 17, 2019 03:50AM
I don't seem to have many around me, but I see them occasionally . They don't live long after I see them smiling smiley

A good time to eliminate a lot of them is in early May before the leaves come out. I take a walk in an area about 1/2 mile around my property with the 22 mag and kill as many as I can spot. They are easy to spot up on the limbs of aspen and other tree's . They also seem to like white pine.
How they deal with the pitch is beyond me, but I see them in them every now and then. I mainly try to keep them thinned out because we have 2 dogs and I worry about them tangling with a porky. I have several 30+ year old apple trees around the house and have never had any damage from a porky.

Good luck, Pat

Brampton Lake Orchards

Zone 4a Upper Michigan
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