You may never see them. They lurk around underground and seldom poke their little noses out to meet you face to face. But your lawn and garden can certainly show all the signs of their presence. Mounds of soil scattered over the lawn. Disrupted root systems in the garden. Yep, they are out there moles and gophers and they can wreak havoc on your lawn and garden.
To control these pesky subterranean critters, first, identify which one you are dealing with. Moles leave tiny, unsightly mounds of soil scattered all over. The mounds from a mole are volcano-shaped and a few inches high. Gophers also leave mounds of soil piled around, but gopher mounds are more fan-shaped or sometimes horseshoe-shaped. The animals dig up the soil as they burrow underground tunnels in search of their favorite foods grubs and earthworms.
You have several options for getting rid of moles and gophers. The choices range from plain old fashioned poison to much more humane options like traps or repellants.
Since any poisons run the risk of affecting larger parts of the environment than intended, and since downright killing the critters is really not necessary, I will discuss here some trapping and repelling methods of mole and gopher control. Talk to your local garden supply company or agricultural extension service for more information on anyone’s method.
Several commercial traps are available that trap the live animal and then you have to figure out what to do with it next. Many people just take them out in the country somewhere and release them, but some states prohibit this, so it’s worth finding out what your local laws say about such things. Set the traps near tunnel entrances and bait them with something yummy.
Many folks swear by crunchy peanut butter for moles and nuts or sunflower seeds for gophers. This actually seems the better choice than traps with poison, since the experience with these pests has shown that many are too smart anyway to fall for a trap with poison in it. But peanut butter, apparently, is another story.
Ways to repel moles and gophers are also numerous. Try destroying their food source by applying milky spore disease to the soil to kill grubs and other insects they like to eat. Or you can plant the mole plant or castor bean plant throughout your yard to repel moles. Moles are said to also be repelled by Mexican Marigold, daffodils, and crown imperials (a spring-flowering bulb). Other people claim that a few scoops of used kitty litter will deter the pests.
Apparently, moles and gophers get wind of the used kitty litter and think some other animal has invaded their territory and will pack up and leave. Another odoriferous cure is to soak some cloth in ammonia, then drop it into a gopher hole. This will also send the animals away.
For both moles and gophers, you can also try repelling them with sound vibrations. Both critters dislike the annoyance of sound vibrations and can deter them with a few poles with empty plastic bottles tied to the top so that the bottles can knock around in the wind.
For gophers, you can also try an inch wire mesh barrier around your garden. It should go at least 2 feet underground and be at least 2 feet above the ground as well.
Chances are that no one solution will provide permanent pest control. You will have to keep watch, experiment a little, and probably re-do after a time. Talk with your local agricultural extension service to find out which methods work best in your area.