At such a depth, the mulch is fluffy and deep enough to burrow within, providing an ideal hidden nesting area for some rodents. He found stripped cones and tightly closed, unopened cones.These caches could mean the difference between life and death to a squirrel in a really harsh winter, so it is best to resist the urge to clean up that cluttered corner or at least wait until spring when fresh food becomes available again.Sue Pike of York has worked as a researcher and a teacher in biology, marine biology and environmental science for years. Digital access or digital and print delivery. If it appears there's an infestation, remove most of the mulch, including other airy mulch sources that may be nearby, such as piles of decaying leaves. Birds, such as crossbills and woodpeckers, also strip pinecones, but while the scales of cones eaten by squirrels have clean-cut edges, those made by birds are ragged where they have been pulled out. Dead pine needles form a favored mulch variety because they are lightweight, allow water to flow easily through to soil and root level and do not clump or harden the way some heavier mulches do over time. Some people say you can predict a coming winter by the thickness of onion skins, the fuzziness of wooly bears and even whether pigs are gathering sticks. Okay, now that you’re sure you’re looking at an actual pine tree with pine cones, let’s talk about how to harvest and eat the different parts of the pine tree. The squirrels and chipmunks are gathering and stockpiling green pine cones in all our tree wells and garden planters. All rights reserved. The current almanac says this is going to be a particularly cold and snowy winter in our area. Digital access or digital and print delivery. In addition, hardware cloth or a fine mesh protect around the base of a tree trunk deters rodents; set the mesh several inches below soil level to prevent rodents from gnawing below ground. This is one thing I have particularly noticed because I do have one such visitor in my terrace apartment. When winter approaches, push pine needles at least six inches away from the bases of trees and plants to keep rodents from chewing on tree bark. Red and grey squirrels eat pine cones and leave characteristic ‘cores’ and piles of stripped scales under conifer trees. Pine seeds that will be stored (cached) for later use need to be handled with care. Ohio State University Extension: Mulching Landscape PLants, North Carolina State University: Mulching Trees and Shrubs, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: Pine Straw as a Ground Cover Mulch, Fairfax County Public Schools: Eastern White Pine (Pinus Strobus). Fats and oils are compact, high-quality sources of calories, perfect for packing into a tiny seed, perfect for helping a small, fuzzy mammal stay warm on a cold winter's night.Squirrels do one of two things with a pine cone: eat the seeds immediately or cache them. Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. While the squirrels feed on a variety of foods including nuts, plants and berries, they also eat pine seeds that are obtained from the cones. They have bad years and, unlike the Chicago Cubs, they have good years. It takes a lot of effort for a squirrel to strip a pine cone and get at those two tiny seeds located at the base of each scale, but they are worth it because pine seeds are loaded with fat.More than 50 percent of the weight of a pine seed is fat, something that all overwintering animals need to survive; this is why seeds and nuts are so popular at bird feeders. To keep rodents out of pine straw mulch, apply it only in layers 2 to 2.5 inches thick; any deeper and it begins to look like a habitat to some rodents, much like hamster bedding in a pet habitat. seacoastonline.com ~ 111 New Hampshire Ave., Portsmouth, NH 03801 ~ Do Not Sell My Personal Information ~ Cookie Policy ~ Do Not Sell My Personal Information ~ Privacy Policy ~ Terms Of Service ~ Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. Do you think the squirrels and chipmunks know this and are doing extra planning? These products are usually referred to as pine nuts and typically come from the pinyon, stone and sugar varieties of pine trees. In addition, some pines have tightly sealed cones that greatly reduce exposure to air.