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Gophers and Moles

Just look at the picture of Sir Digby Burrows on the right and you can see the important role gophers play in West County agriculture. Frustration, anger, amazement - all emotions felt by the local would-be gardener.  Gophers even had a role in driving the Russians from the California coast in the 1800s.  "Ground rats" they called them. 

So what do you do?  There is no perfect solution, sad to say.  How you deal with them depends on your determination, temperament and budget.  We carry many products that will really help the situation.

Traps
Gas and Bait
Wire and Baskets
Repellers
Gopher Proof Bulbs
About Moles

 

Traps

There is nothing like trapping to show proof of a catch.

The Digby Trap is an old and very effective trap that is used by professional and amateur trappers with great success. We have a video you can watch on how to use the trap and a flyer for you on how to set it.

Here is one trapper's technique:
"I have several traps working to keep it interesting.  First of all, the fresher the mound the better.  First day fresh.  Using a sturdy trowel dig, down and find the run.  I take a floral shovel along for tougher spots.  Be sure the run is really an open hole.  When gophers move on they use abandoned tunnels for their backfill.  This dirt may feel softer and easy to dig but your prey is somewhere else.  OK, so you have a nice fresh open hole all cleaned out and ready.  Now set the trap and insert it as far as you can into the hole.  If you are using a Pro trap, be sure that the trigger rod is not binding but will move to the slight pressure of....... SNAP!!  One down.  Bury it, feed it to the cat, whatever but mark it on the calendar and go find another fresh mound.  If your luck was bad, give it a couple of days max and move on.  An important tip: make a marker flag for each trap.  I use bright flagging tape on a stiff wire.  It makes running my trap line a breeze.  Good luck!"

About once a year we have "The Gopher Guy" Gregg Crawford do a workshop for gopher trappers.  It is very popular and he does a great job giving tips and tricks on using the Pro Trap.  He even sells a special digging tool he has developed for clearing out gopher runs.  Keep your eye out for this in the spring.

Some trappers swear by the Macabee and Black Hole Trap.  We sell many of these as well.

 

Gas and Bait

There are several approaches to chemical gopher control. Gas works best in the spring when the ground is damp (gas will leak through cracks in dry ground). Gas leaves no troubling residue and is not dangerous to pets or above-ground wildlife. Use gas bombs such as the Giant Destroyer or hook up a garden hose to an engine using the Underground Exterminator. Older engines that produce a lot of carbon monoxide work best.

 

Gopher blocks such as Eaton's Answer should be placed in an active gopher run. They contain an anti-coagulant that kills gophers. Pets ingesting these gophers can be treated.  Strychnine-based baits are quite effective but lethal to pets and wildlife that eat either the bait or the gopher killed by the bait. One method deposits pellets through a small hole you pierce in the run and the gopher is killed in the run, but for an industrious hole-digging dog, finding and eating one would be deadly.

 

Wire and Baskets

 

Gopher baskets are a local favorite for planting perennials, roses and trees. Gophers just can't penetrate the strong wire mesh basket. By the time the roots have a chance to penetrate beyond the basket there are enough root fibers for a few gophers. Gopher wire is also effective under raised beds and lawns. It is available by the foot or in 100' rolls. If your soil is non-acidic (be sure to test) another wire, aviary netting, can also be quite effective against gophers and moles. It is a lighter gauge than gopher wire but is easier to contour by hand.

Our gopher baskets and wire are made of 3/4" hot-dipped galvanized heavy-duty mesh.  The baskets are available in 1 gallon, 3 gallon, five gallon and tree sizes.  Dig a hole big enough for the basket and leave several inches of basket (colored green) above the ground surface to foil climb-overs. You can form your own baskets from wire, but wear gloves to protect your hands.

Gopher baskets are great for planting flower bulbs that are vulnerable to gophers, like tulips and most summer bulbs.  Click here for a list of resistant bulbs.

Gopher wire is available in 25' and 100' rolls in 2', 3', 4' & 5' widths.  Lay it out under landscaping or garden plots or in trenches, leaving a few inches above ground on each side.


Repellers

Castor Oil Repellers
Gophers and moles both hate castor oil. There are several products that incorporate it in their formulations. Bonide Molemax is a granular formulation you scatter on your soil. You can also place it around bulbs to keep gophers away.
Attach Bonide Mole and Gopher Repellent to your hose and water it into your lawn to drive the pests away.

We also carry the Gopher-It, a battery operated stake you put in the ground which drives gophers away.

 


Gopher Proof Bulbs

These bulbs contain a substance Gophers don't like and so won't eat.  They may shoulder them aside, but they won't eat them.  Other bulbs can be planted in gopher baskets - see above.

Allium, Anemone, Daffodil, Freesia, Hyacinth, Ranunculus, Scilla, Dwarf Iris,
 Iris Reticulata, Fritilaria, Galanthus, Leycojum, Ornithonalum, Puschkinia, Lycoris, Muscari, Narcissus, Chinodosa, Arunthus

 

 


About Moles

Moles are tough. They don’t cause as much damage to plants as gophers but they are hard to trap and can really mess up a lawn. Check out the repellers listed above for one option. We also have mole traps and the worm-shaped Tomcat Mole Killer.