How to Get Rid of Gophers and Moles
By Tucker Cummings
, last updated January 20, 2012
You may have chuckled as a child when Bugs Bunny traveled from place to place in his little tunnels, but as an adult, the prospect of rodents tunneling through your lawn and garden can be infuriating. Gophers and moles are two of the most common mammalian garden pests, with East Coasters generally battling with moles and West Coasters fighting off the advances of gophers. Depending on whether you want to kill these critters or just get them to leave you alone, there are a number of different tactics you can use to get rid of these troublesome pests.
A number of products are available that can poison both moles and gophers. Most often, these baits are treated with strychnine or zinc and aluminum phosphide, and are toxic when ingested. While these products will kill pests, they do contain pesticides that you may not want on your property, particularly if you have small children, pets, or are growing an organic garden.
If you want to skip the poison, you may be able to scare pesky rodents off your property by frightening them. If you install a predator decor near their tunnels, you should be able to convince them to seek out another place to burrow. Available at garden centers or some hunting supply companies, decoys shaped like coyotes or owls are your best bet.
One of the most preferred methods for safely and permanently getting rid of garden pests is to install an ultrasonic pest repeller. By emitting an unpleasant sound (that is conveniently out of the range of hearing for humans), you can repel gophers and moles, as well as neighborhood dogs, skunks, raccoons, deer, and more. Some units will also repel insects like ants, spiders, and roaches. Check with the manufacturer to ensure that you are getting the best ultrasonic unit for your particular needs. Just make sure to change the unit’s batteries after six months to ensure continued effectiveness.
Traps are a great way to catch pests, either by wounding them (as in a mouse trap), or by capturing them safely so they can be taken away by animal control or driven to a wooded location by you far from your home. However, getting animals out of the trap can be a hassle, and freed animals may simply return to your home at a later date.
Flooding tunnels with water from a hose can be quite effective in displacing moles and gophers. However, this may not be a good option if you’re trying to grow flowers or produce, as too much water can flood root systems and cause rot.
Another green option to consider is castor oil granules, an all-natural product made from castor oil, ground-up corn cobs, and a small amount of soap. After the granules get wet, the smell repels gophers and moles, and the entire mixture is actually good for your lawn. Use one pound across every 1,000 square feet for best results. To move the pests from your lawn, treat one-third of the area on Day 1, then treat two-thirds of the area on Day 2, until Day 3 when you treat the whole area.