Orange County Vector Control’s recommendation, and other options, on dealing with the common pocket gopher.
Are there alternates to trapping?
Alternates for killing, yes.
Let’s look to nature:
- Cats when hungry are one defense.
- Gopher Snakes are another. These lovely creatures are the color of our desert dirt, have a darker camouflage pattern, and a delicate face with small teeth. Being wild, they cannot legally be purchased. They can be raised in captivity if caught. They are active in the spring and summer.
- Hawks are another. They live in the river channel, and are active in the daytime.
- Barn Owls are another. They are active at night. We hope to attract some this fall while they are nesting.
Let’s look to ingenuity. Various gardeners have had success with:
- Gummy Bears. Not gummy worms. Reports say to drop 6 gummy bears into a hole. Apparently they pass of constipation.
- Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Gum. Twist the gum in the wrapper, drop in in the hole. Apparently they pass of constipation. (Sheryllyn McClintock (A8) used this method successfully. Juicy Fruit is available at Walmart.)
- Chocolate Ex-Lax. Only Chocolate. Place in hole. Apparently they pass of diarrhea.
Whenever handling bait for the gophers, wear disposable gloves, like latex or nitrile. Your scent will cause them to ignore the bait.
Alternates for prevention, yes.
- Cayenne Pepper. Pat Pilette (D1) poured red pepper in the gopher holes in her triangle (2013-2014), and around her plants. She hasn’t seen one since. Red Pepper (Cayenne Pepper) is available in bulk at Sam’s Club and Costco, 16oz for about $5.00. Be cautious when handling cayenne, as it is very hot! Wear disposable gloves and be down wind!
- Planting Narcissus bulbs around your plot edging (“Plant a Gopher Moat”) was recommended in a syndicated Scripps Howard article in the Orange County Register (Aug 13, 2011). The writer, Maureen Gilmer, swears it worked for her fruit trees, and gophers have never crossed the line. She writes “all species of the genus Narcissus are toxic. Gophers avoid them.” She bought a “huge quantity of really cheap mixed narcissus for naturalizing in the fall…come spring I had tons of extra flowers for cutting.” (Mind you, she is not in arid Southern California!)
“Order in August and September, and look for bargains, because young, undersized ones will cost a lot less and work just as well. Plant them tightly in a row along your garden fence….Use a mixture of different types so you have fragrant jonquils and King Alfred daffodils along with more ordinary sorts.”
To read this at the source, go to OC Vector Control‘s website.