How to Keep Critters from Eating Your Pumpkins!

Pumpkins and gourds are some of our favorite fall decorative elements! They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures and are so versatile in adding festive flair to any space. 

Unfortunately, we aren't the only ones that find pumpkins and gourds appealing. Squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and even deer have been known to chomp down on these fall fruits! Nothing is worse than carving your perfect pumpkin, only to find it's become a midnight snack for your natural neighbors. 

While no trick is 100% foolproof, here are a few easy tips you can try to deter animals from snooping around your gourds.


You read that right - hairspray! Most animals avoid eating things that have unpleasant textures. You can make your pumpkins sticky by spritzing them with a generous coating of hairspray, which can make them unpalatable to animals. Make sure you cover all exposed parts of the pumpkin!


Cayenne Pepper/Hot Sauce

Just like with textures, some animals will avoid strong, off-putting scents. Cayenne pepper is quite spicy and can deter some critters from snacking. You can sprinkle some cayenne around the pumpkin, or even on the pumpkin itself! You can also try brushing on some hot sauce. In both of these methods, you may need to reapply after it rains.



Same as above, the strong scent of white vinegar has been known to keep unwanted pests away. Try wiping your gourds down with a thin coating of vinegar, or dilute it 50% with water and use it as a spray. 


Petroleum Jelly

Keeping with the theme of making your pumpkins unappealing to hungry animals, you can coat it in a generous layer of petroleum jelly. The jelly creates a tacky layer that most animals will find unappealing.



Also known as a "peace offering," you can try to leave a plate of seeds or nuts in the yard as an easy meal. Critters may fill up on these instead of on your pumpkins!


Animal Repellent

There are also products that are specially formulated to keep animals away. Bonide makes a great line of animal repellents! Using cayenne pepper as a base and incorporating other deterrents, their repellents are a great option. Offering both granular and spray applications, you click here to shop the collection online.


Do you have any tried and true tips or tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments!


  • Karen

    I am interested in the pantyhose trick but does the pantyhose end up affecting the shape of the pumpkin as it grows?

  • Lauren McLaughlin

    Wrap your pumpkins and other fall squash, Butternuts etc. in nylons/pantyhose. Sounds strange but it works! Their claws get caught in the material so they move on and the stretch in the fabric allows the Vegetable to grow to their full size. It was a game changer for me last season. I just bought inexpensive larger sizes and cut lengths and put the veg through and secured the fabric closed at the ends with twist ties.

  • Patrice Lombardo

    Great suggestions . I’ll pass them on.

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