Do possums eat lemons? (And how to deter them)

As cute as some people find them, possums can be a real pain for people growing fruit and veges in their backyard.

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If you have lemon or other citrus trees, you may have noticed a lot of fruit being half-eaten, often the skin only.

Could it be possums?

Do possums eat lemons?

They sure do. Not only do they eat the fruit but they may also eat the leaves, which can be bad news for the health of your tree.

According to the WA Department of Primary Industries, “possums are common pests of citrus and will eat the peels of fruits. Sometimes they will leave the peel and eat the flesh or the entire fruit.”

How to deter possums

Keeping possums away from your lemons is no easy task.

However, there are many methods out there that people claim to have had success with. We’ve included the most popular methods below.

The deterrent measures fall into two broad categories: Physical barriers and deterrents.

1. Physical barriers

If you have the space and resources, the most effective measure for keeping possums away from your citrus tree is by physically preventing them from accessing it.

This is usually done in one of the following ways:

  • Wire cages
  • Chicken wire fencing
  • Bird netting (which you can remove during the day)
  • Electric fence
  • Trap and release (in line with local laws)

2. Deterrents

There are many recommended possums deterrents out there, some more effective than others.

Blood and bone

The most common method (and most suitable for residential areas) appears to be sprinkling blood and bone fertiliser around the base of your lemon tree.

Possums hate the smell of this animal-based fertiliser and will usually keep their distance.

For best results, if possible plan your garden so that possums can’t access your trees from the fence. In addition to forcing them to come face-to-face with the blood and bone they generally don’t much like walking on the ground if they can avoid it.

Dog hair

WA Department of Primary Industries suggests “the best deterrent for possums is an old stocking stuffed with dog hair.”

Dogs themselves are often used to keep possums away in more rural locations. However, they can often result in extra problems and they may just spend the night barking at possums without actually deterring them.

Possum spray

There is a range of sprays that you can use to keep possums off your prized citrus tree.

Here are some of the popular methods:

  • Garlic: soak 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic overnight in one litre of hot water. The next day, strain the mixture then spray directly onto your lemon tree’s leaves.
  • Chilli: Similar to the garlic method, finely chop up a chilli and soak it in hot water overnight before straining and transferring to a spray bottle. You can shortcut this method using Tabasco sauce.
  • Egg yolk: Some citrus growers have reported success with an egg yolk-based spray, which reportedly contains a chemical that possums tend to steer clear of.

There are also commercial products like the Yates Possum Repellent Spray which reportedly protects your plants by deterring possums.

Although, at the time of writing the customer review score for this product on the Bunnings website is 1.8/5 after 57 reviews so it doesn’t sound like it’s a universal fix.

Finally, Wildlife Victoria recommends a tea-based spray. For this method, they advise you “boil two litres of water; add four heaped tablespoons of Lapsang Souchong tea; leave to cool, strain off liquid and apply from plastic spray bottle directly onto affected plants. Reapply every two weeks and always after rain. Make a fresh brew every time.”

Quassia chips

Quassia chips are made from the bark of a South American tree and can be bought at most nurseries.

To use this possum-deterring method: pour 100 grams of chips into 2 litres of water, heat for one hour, then strain. Add one tablespoon of detergent. Dilute at the rate of 1 part solution to 4 parts water and spray.

RELATED: Treatment for Stink Bugs on Lemon Trees

Do possum deterrents work?

Deakin University in Melbourne conducted a Possum repellent study testing a range of products including:

  • Garlic spray
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Hot English mustard
  • Indonesian fish sauce
  • White King camphor
  • Naphthalene flakes
  • quassia chips
  • Blood and Bone
  • Keep Off
  • Stay Off
  • D-Ter
  • Scat
  • Bitrex

Unfortunately, the study found that hungry possums would eat all of the apples provided and they were not repelled by any of the repellents.

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Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY, and is always up for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking delicious meals from fresh produce picked from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.