Gophers are rodents that feed on plant roots and other underground parts of plants. Occasionally they also feed above-ground. Gophers can cause extensive damage from the bottom up as they gnaw on trees, shrubbery, garden plants, and even sprinkler systems and water lines! Turf damage is often exacerbated by gopher holes left by digging gophers.
You may first suspect the neighbor’s dog when you see several freshly-dug holes in your lawn. However, take a closer look at those holes before you jump to any conclusions. A gopher hole can be identified by a fan-shaped dirt mound surrounding a hole two to four inches in diameter. (A mole hole, though similar in appearance, is more circular shaped and less fan shaped.) Usually there is one main gopher hole, a feeding hole or two, and several other connecting gopher holes. The network of tunnels often leads to soil erosion, difficulties with mowing and lawn care, and irrigation problems. In addition to the plant damage that gophers cause, their holes also ruin your award-winning lawn.
Before you “go fer” your guns or explosive firework stash, here are some other, more effective management ideas you might dig. First and foremost, locate the main gopher hole, which can be identified by its large size and tall vegetation veiling the entrance. Treating the main gopher hole will be more effective than treating connecting tunnels. Most people prefer to use traps or rodenticide baits. Two-prong traps, such as the Macabee, are highly successful as are choker-style box traps. Set a couple traps facing different directions inside the main hole. Traps are most effective when buried under a layer of dirt. Wearing gloves can help to mask your human scent. If traps are unsuccessful after three days, move them to another location. Gopher baits containing strychnine or zinc phosphate are potent in small doses but are dangerous to pets and children, so use caution and always follow the label.
Now Go get ‘em!