They may look cute, but they're causing a lot of damage to New Jersey homes. The squirrel population is booming this fall following last year's mild winter.

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The temperatures were warm across the northeast in 2011 and if you combine that with a bumper crop of acorns and beechnuts following lots of spring rain, there is an uptick in squirrels.

"We are seeing about a fifty percent increase in squirrel complaints and calls since last year. Right about now is when they start to feel the cold and they are starting to break into houses," said Dean Weiss, a pest control expert at Got Wildlife? in Essex County.

He says they can do a lot of damage to your home and property.

"They are hurting farmers because they are chewing through apples and other crops and you can probably see teeth marks on your pumpkins or other fall decorations this time of year."

"They are chewers, so they can chew through wire, wood and get into your home or attic and they can start fires," Weiss added.

Squirrel populations are also up in parts of New York, New Mexico, Indiana and Ohio.

How do you keep them out?

"Don't feed anything...I can't stress that enough, they aren't picky they will eat bird seed, pet food, anything that is out and then they will keep coming back year after year," Weiss said.

Other tips include trimming back tree branches so they can't gain access to your roof, inspecting your home by looking for small holes and openings and capping your chimney.

"We are totally busy this year with squirrels, definitely a lot more than we've seen in the past," he added.