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Managing Pests in the Garden

August 18, 2010

Lately, there’s been more action in and around my garden than I care to have. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy activity, positive changes, and the challenging journeys that gardening and country life sometimes take me on. It’s the damages and losses (even near losses) that I don’t cotton too. Here’s what’s been happening.

In the vegetable bed, voles have devoured two cantaloupes, one ready to harvest and the other green as grass. Voles run above ground on the paths they’ve created between holes. I placed two mousetraps and four glue traps on the running trails. If you place two traps back-to-back on the paths, you’re bound to capture one. So far, I’ve caught four. I plunked a blend of peanut butter and oatmeal on each, although a small piece of spearmint gum seems to attract them better. Ralphie, however, is also attracted to the gum, not the peanut butter, so I have to go with the latter.

The vole number is low so far. When hundreds of voles invade a garden or raised bed like my neighbor (or as I’ve experienced before), there’s not much you can do. I’m hoping this year’s vole litter in my garden isn’t a prelude to next year’s over breeding.

I’ve heard some master gardeners say pouring a mix of plaster of Paris and oatmeal down the opening works well. The voles, supposedly, eat it and die.

In addition to voles, it seems that I now have to be watchful of coyotes. Around 3:30 in the afternoon, a coyote tried to take my hens hostage. Ralphie and I just happened to be in the hammock, a few feet away, when we heard the ladies squawking frightfully. Between Ralphie’s barking and my yelling, the coyote fled silently without bloodshed, not even a nugget of country chicken. Thank heaven. (I also have to stay extra close to Ralphie now when he’s outside.)

A lot of dust and feathers flew overhead as the ladies ran for cover. I counted hens (all present, unharmed) and consoled them with a reassuring voice. The next morning, when I checked the mousetraps, one was gone. If triggered, mousetraps can fly a distance. This one, however, had vanished. I imagine it tangling on the nose of a sore loser, the coyote.

Here are some tips to help you decide who’s tunneling in your beds:

Vole:  Diet consists of vegetation, roots, and grass. Creates several open holes within a small area with above-ground trails between them.

Mole:  Diet consists mainly of earthworms and insects. Creates horseshoe-shape mound around the hole.

Gopher: Destroys roots while digging for food. Uproots and eats vegetation including tree roots, flower roots, and bulbs. Creates a round mount with hole in center.

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4 comments

  1. What great timing. I wondered what was eating my fruits and vegetables. I had put out D-Con but other than a few nibbles, I haven’t seen any positive results. I think I have both rats and voles. I will try some glue traps.

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    • Betty,

      Even though I used the glue traps, I don’t like them because it’s a slow death. The mousetraps are immediate. (The plastic ones are easy to operate.) Poison, for me, is out of the question because it can kill pets even when they should eat the dead pest. I once put a whole piece of gum in a gopher opening, and I never saw him again. I had heard they couldn’t swallow gum and choke to death. Not immediate either, but I think faster than the glue traps, and at least they die with a sweet taste in their mouth. –Dianne

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  2. Do you mean after chewing a piece of gum? Regular or bubble gum? Or buying a round paper wrapped old-fashion bubble gum and dropping it in the hole unwrapped and unchewed?

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    • Betty,

      I used one or two whole strips of unwrapped, unchewed spearmint gum per opening. But remember, pets are attracted to the scent as well, and could choke on it. Since having Ralphie, I don’t use gum.–Dianne

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