MOLES & GOPHERS
just what are moles?
They are small burrowing animals, approximately 3" to 5" long who live
their entire lives beneath the surface of the soils we cultivate for flowerbeds
and try to keep lush lawns thriving on. And therein lies the problem because
the mole loves to destroy those places. According to biologists, across
the globe there are twelve species of the mole. Five live in North America
where by far, the most common lawn and garden pest is the Eastern Mole.
He's known to biologists as Scalepus acquaticus. To those cursed with
this destructive pest, he's known by far worse names.
The eastern mole typically weighs three to five ounces and is covered
with fine hair that can be dark brown to grey. They have no external ears,
have very small eyes and webbed feet that are perfectly designed for digging.
The mole uses its front paws and legs to move through soil much as a swimmer
does through water, traveling at an impressive 12 to 15 feet an hour!
How about gophers?
To begin, we often confuse moles and gophers because they each can build
cone like mounds in lawns. Gophers (they aren't normally found east of
the Mississippi) don't dig the tunnels that we normally associate with
moles. In truth the two species are no more closely related than dogs
and cats. Being a rodent, the gopher is related to squirrels and mice
and like them has fairly large incisor teeth suited for gnawing the plants
on which they feed. The mole is almost purely an insectivore (insect eater)
with very limited interest in plants.
Q: What do moles eat?
First they are big eaters. An eastern mole can consume its own weight
in insects every day! Among other insects, the mole eats the common grub
that lives a few inches below the surface of our beautifully trimmed lawn,
but they primarily rely on earthworms for the majority of their diet.
Test lawns regularly treated with grub insecticide have shown somewhat
lowered mole infestation, but they were not mole free ... and it only
takes one adult mole to create havoc.
Q: Why do they
like my lawn so much (i.e. what kinds of lawns and plantings are most
Lawns adjacent to wooded areas are prone to attack since
the mole's natural habitat is the forest and particularly, clearings in
it. In addition, if your neighbor has them, so likely will you, since
they don't recognize property lines.
Q: Are some geographic areas worse than others?
Yep. The southwest and Far Western areas of North America
have few moles and plenty of gophers. The eastern U.S. Have virtually
all the moles and no gophers. The worst mole areas seem to be the northeast,
south and mid-west. The northern plains have both moles and gophers, but
in lower numbers than elsewhere.
Q: Are some times of the year worse for mole infestation?
Yes. The most active period for mole burrowing near the
surface of your lawn is the early spring and mid too late fall. During
the dryer, hot summer months, they go deeper (as do the worms and grubs)
and therefore are they are less noticeable. When moles go deep, we see
the familiar cones of finely crumbled soil that often causes us to confuse
them with gophers.
Q: What damage do moles
The largest concern to the homeowner is the fact that the
Mole's tunneling separates the roots of the lawn from the soil and can
cause the grass to become dormant because it dries out. At it's worst,
the mole's tunnels and mounds kill grass and planting bed flowers.
Q: Do moles reuse the same tunnels?
Yes and no. They rarely reuse a tunnel that they're using to forage for
some time. On the other hand they will reuse the tunnel in which they
live and breed daily. The best way to find the active tunnel is to flatten
all visible tunnels. If one is a nesting or active tunnel, within a day
(two max) the ridges will reappear. If it is a feeding tunnel, it will
remain flattened for several (or more) days.
do moles breed?
Normally breeding takes place during the spring between
early February and late March depending on your locale. Gestation takes
42 days and typically, the brood numbers four to five young. By mid summer,
they are all busy rampaging under your lawn and by next spring are ready
to reproduce! That's why mole control done in late fall is especially
Q: Do moles
lead to having other pests?
Yes they do. Mice especially are frequent fellow travelers.
Mice will use mole tunnels to attack the roots of plants and bulbs such
as daffodils and tulips. In addition, the mice will use mole tunnels and
Gopher burrows as nesting sites that are close to your dwellings and as
winter begins, as a base of operations from which to enter your home.
Will Chase Mole and Gopher RepellentTM
work on other burrowing pests?
User experience seems to indicate that both the liquid and granular version
of Chase will reduce the infestation of various burrowing animals. Some
university research indirectly backs that experience, with recorded observations
that rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks and other pests avoided areas treated
for mole infestation.
DEER & RABBITS
Just how many deer are there?
Today the estimated U.S. deer population is put at near twenty-five million
- the most ever in recorded history. An interesting side note is that
in the Colonial America of the 1600's, the total deer population was less
than fifteen million. And if you think you're imagining that the problem's
gotten worse in the last few decades you'd be right. As late as 1965,
the entire U.S. Deer herd was estimated at one half million!
Footprints aside, how do I tell deer damage from other foraging animals?
If deer are eating the shrubs, the plants will have a torn, ragged appearance.
Rabbits, Woodchucks and most other vegetative destroying critters have
opposed incisor teeth. When they take a mouthful, they cut the leaves
cleanly. Deer have no upper incisors, so they grab a mouthful and shake
their heads tearing away that branch, or clump of leaves.
When do deer and rabbits eat?
Deer are nocturnal (night) creatures. They are most active in the early
twilight and early morning, but do move (and eat) all night. For the most
part, deer bed down in the mid morning and lay low until just before late
afternoon. Rabbits eat when they are awake. That means all day!
Do deer and rabbits return to the same areas?
Yep. They sure do. Deer are very territorial and rarely range in an area
larger than about a square mile. As a result, they will know every inch
of their range. That means of course the exact coordinates of your most
valued plants! In the case of Peter Rabbit, he probably never leaves sight
of your yard. In fact, he probably lives there!
Is there a worst season for deer damage?
Yes. It's the early spring when the deer are very active and when there
is little natural vegetation to feed on. That makes your yard a pasture
for Bambi from February through May. Unfortunately, deer are also pretty
active in the winter and there is even less natural food then. That means
that in the winter, deer will munch on shrubs and ornamental plants that
they'd pass over in favor of your spring flowers come April. Worse yet,
once they put your yard on the list of great eating places, they're there
for the Spring season too.
What do deer and rabbits eat?
Generally they favor new leaves and plants that are just emerging from
the soil. They will also eat corn in farmers fields and especially like
forage corps such as alfalfa. In fact, one strategy used with limited
success on deer, is to place alfalfa hay at a point distant from your
beautiful plants to prevent actually drawing deer to them - but close
enough to distract them from your landscaping.
Are there plants that deer (and rabbits) dislike?
Yes there are and Chase uses several of those in its two-part approach
to repelling these pests. Plants with strong aromas and very strong flavors
such as some peppers and garlic tend to repel. While they don't really
repel, other plants that seem not to be on the list of favored snacks
are: Aloe, Yucca, Lilac, Daffodil, Columbine, Begonia, Bachelor's Button,
Fennel and Tarragon, to name a few.
How about rabbits? What do they eat?
The good news is they can't reach tall plants like deer! The bad news
is that they are greater in number and are even less picky about what
they'll eat. The rabbit problem is especially troublesome to vegetable
gardeners, because the planting season coincides with the spring birth
of all those young rabbits.
Are all rabbits the same?
No. The problem with rabbit damage is that it's pretty well limited to
that caused by juvenile delinquent bunnies. They're in your garden for
two reasons. First, there are a lot of them. Rabbit mothers are prolific.
(They really do "breed like rabbits".) The second problem is
that mom digs her burrow where it's safe from predators. That means in
(or near) your yard.
Do deer and rabbits eat anything that's not vegetation?
No, they both are very strict vegetarians. They are repelled by meat
sources and that fact is the second secret weapon in Chase Deer Repellent
and Plant Protector. In addition to garlic, hot pepper and castor oil,
it contains both putrefied egg, fish meal and fish oil. All three of those
are repugnant to deer and rabbits. In the case of the fish oil, it also
forms a water proof film that keep the other ingredients on the leaves
to continue repelling for up to 90 days. An added benefit is that the
fish oil provides valuable nutrition to help damaged plants regain their