Gophers are similar to burrowing rodents who form a great network of tunnels and burrows throughout your garden and lawns, destroying them in the process. They are also hoarders of food and are known to steal a large amount of your vegetable or fruit produce and store them in their hoards. Along with the food, they can chew through your plastic water lines and sprinkler system, thus damaging hundreds of dollars worth of goods and materials. They form one of the most harmful and destructive pests that can affect your garden and create havoc in no time! So, if you are facing the problem by this pest and seeing your garden getting destroyed by them, here are some easy –to-do ways to get rid of gophers:
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Trapping and Baiting:
The best method, prescribed by Salmon and Baldwin (2009) is trapping of the gophers followed by poisoning them. To trap the gophers affecting your garden, it is important to locate their main burrow by using a probe. The gopher usually has a main burrow, which is located 6-12 inches below the ground surface, and has many lateral tunnels that arise from the main tunnel. The probe is made of a long pipe attached to a metal rod, with a flattened and a broad tip. While probing, if the ground suddenly drops down and gives way, you have successfully located the tunnel! Once you found the tunnel, place commercially available traps in the burrow. You can add baits like spinach and lettuce leaves to attract the gophers.
Another way to kill gophers is by placing poison baits at each end of the active gopher tunnel. These poisons can include chemicals like Strychnine and Zinc Phosphide and is usually applied to grains before they are placed in gopher tunnels. However, be careful while using this method, as the poison can harm you if not handled properly. Also this method can have limitations, if a pet happens to come across the poison!
If trapping and poisoning gophers is not effective, consider fumigation by aluminium phosphide. This chemical is unauthorized for regular use by the house owner and you need to employ a professional for this purpose.
Another method to avoid your plants from being chewed off can be the use of wire baskets or wire fencing around the flower beds. Commercially available wire baskets can be installed in the ground along with small plants or bushes.
However, remember to leave some space for the plants to grow and the roots to expand. This method prevents the gophers from damaging the roots of plants. However, it is not very effective in the long run, as it can affect plant growth.
Certain predators like cats, barn owls or snakes, are effective in killing and feeding upon the gophers, thus limiting their population. Thus, having a pet cat (especially of the hunting breed) could go a long way in protecting your garden!
Another way to avoid the infestation of the gopher is to make your garden unappealing to the pest. You can do this by reducing the weedy areas around your garden and replacing it with hard gravel or other unappealing habitat that can deter the gophers.
Many people suggest the method of flushing and drowning of gophers. However this method is effective only when you have detected a fresh gopher tunnel or have a large field with flood irrigation. Gophers prefer the softened soil after flushing as it helps them burrow deeper into it! Save your water and look for methods like trapping and baiting.
Use of gopher blasters can seem a wonderful idea to get rid of the pests. These blasters make use of 5% of propane gas along with oxygen and direct the flow of propane within the tunnel. The device contains an igniter that can ignite propane and blast the tunnel. The device is relatively safe as there is minimum fire above the ground surface. However, before you start relishing the idea, check with the state laws and find out whether there are restrictions for the use of this device. Also, using this device in small areas and confined neighborhoods should be avoided.
Plant repellants to prevent gopher infestation:
Many home owners swear that the use of gopher spurge (Euphorbia lathyris), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus), castor bean (Ricinus communis), oleander (Nerium oleander), garlic and other plants belonging to Salvia genus deter the gophers from attacking these plants. However there has been no research that can substantiate this claim.
Use of smells:
Gophers are not able to stand the scents of many items like fish or a scent of a predator, and are known to run away. So the next time, you visit the market for fish, put some scraps of it near the tunnel holes in your lawn. In addition, you can place your dog poop in the tunnels. The gopher identifies this smell as predatory and can leave the tunnel. Sprinkling castor beans or its oil in the lawn can also help get rid of the gophers.
You can also make use of the carbon monoxide waste gas from your land mower to get rid of gophers. Connect a large pipe to the exhaust of the vehicle/ land mower, and place its other end in the tunnel opening. Cover the tunnel and seal the pipe in it to prevent any gas leak. Keep your vehicles idling for around 20-30 minutes, so that the carbon monoxide can fill the tunnel and asphyxiate the gophers.
To get rid of gopher trouble include the use of noise or wind chimes or even ultrasonic devices to scare them. However, they are not easily scared and can always resume activity at the other end of your garden.
The main factor to take into consideration is that gophers are very stubborn pests and are not easily destroyed. So after any method has proven effective, it is very important to continue regular monitoring of your garden or lawn. The gophers can easily re-infest the area and cause more damage. So get rid of all weeds and shrubs and level the ground to detect fresh mounds and tunneling activity.