Pests control in Gardens
Part of Series Gardening Blog Guide Series (this doc)
What are they
Gophers, also called pocket gophers, are small rodents that live in tunnels under lawns and gardens. ...
A common pocket gopher is larger than a hamster and has a tail that is shorter than a rat or mouse. They have small ears that don’t stick out from their head and prominent front teeth. They have whiskers that help them move around and gauge the width of their tunnels. Gophers also have keen senses of smell and hearing, but their sight can be somewhat limited, especially when first exiting the dark tunnels into daylight.
A classic gopher mound is C-shaped around the entrance hole and is made as he pushes the dirt from the tunnels to the surface. The entrance and exit holes drop down at an angle to the main runway. Gophers make many side tunnels, hideouts and nests that branch off the main runway, as well as other entrance and exit holes.
Gophers rarely venture out of their tunnels and spend most of their time underground.
- They love Soft soil, excess watering even in their tunnels The excess water softens the ground, actually making it easier for them to dig.
Diet - roots/tubers
Gophers are herbivores, which means they eat vegetation. Though they eat the tops of plants sometimes, they are mostly interested in the roots and tubers of the plant. When they eat top-side, the gopher will poke itself out of a "feed hole" just enough to grab a nearby plant.
The best bait for gophers is fresh and succulent portions of vegetable roots and stems, or any part of their agricultural favorite plant, alfalfa. Carrot sticks, celery sticks, apples, and peanut butter are all highly attractive to gophers.
What is the Damage from gophers
The holes and dirt mounds that they create can be serious tripping hazards for people and pets,
Their tunnels can weaken the ground to the point of causing patios and walkways to collapse.
Live Trapping - can work for small areas
Live traps will catch some gophers and give you the opportunity to relocate them. However, gophers are fairly prolific breeders and in mild climates they can have three to five litters per year, so trapping is needed year-round.
However, a problem is that gophers rarely venture out of their tunnels and spend most of their time underground. So for traps to be effective, you need to PUT TRAPS IN THEIR tunnels. A common strategy is to put two traps back to back or a dual-inlet single trap. Of course digging and placing such a trap requires a lot more skill, e.g. using a long rod from exit of tunnel to find the main tunnel root.
Check the traps intermittently and handle them carefully once the gophers are trapped.
Bait to use
- One popular bait to use is Juicy Fruit gum. Some swear by it and say that when the gophers eat it, it will clog their intestines and kill them. It may work, but you’ll probably find it’s best simply used as bait.
- Carrot sticks, celery sticks, apples, and peanut butter are all highly attractive to gophers.
How to Discourage Gophers around your garden
Plant garlic, onion, leeks and daffodils near your garden
Gophers usually won’t eat daffodils (Narcissus) and most allium, onion or garlic plants, so you’re safe planting as many of those as you want.
Other plants can be used to repel gophers, such as gopher spurge (Euphorbia lathyris), crown imperials, lavender, rosemary, salvia, catmint, oleander and marigolds. Try planting a border around your flower beds or vegetable garden with these.
Put into gopher holes and cover with soil to drive them away
Chili powder: Sprinkle inside hole as far down as you can get it