How disheartening it is to see your garden being destroyed by those heinous gophers? In particular, gophers feed only on plants, and you can’t even imagine the extent of havoc that these critters can wreak in your lawn. So, put all your emotions aside and rage a war against these vermin, in order to save your beautiful lawn/garden from getting destroyed. How to get rid of gophers? There are several home remedies to drive gophers out from your garden and protect your hundreds of dollars worth of plantation. Let’s have a look.
Home Remedies to Deal with Gophers
1. Soft Candy or Chewing Gum
Use of gum or various other soft candies has become one of the most popular methods to control gopher. Put soft candies or gum into the gopher hole. Probably it will be the last meal if the gopher eats it (1, 2).
This remedy is used by many people treating gophers. But according to Rex Marsh, vertebrate pest control specialist at UC Davis, when he used this remedy most of the gophers only developed a sweet tooth (3).
Noise can frighten gophers, but this remedy is meant for the areas where gophers are an occasional problem, not a permanent threat (4).
3. Pet Waste
Another popular way to get rid of gophers is using pet waste. Rather than throwing away your dog’s poop or cat’s litter into the waste, use it to block gopher tunnels and mounds.
Euphorbia lathyris, which is popularly known as “Gopher Spurge”, is said to control subterranean burrowers such as gophers. These plants are easily available in almost all nurseries. Grow these plant species all through your yard, particularly in areas where gophers are found. Or else, you may plant daffodil, castor bean and marigold as gophers cannot bear with the smell and taste of these plants (5, 6).
Note: There is no valid proof regarding the use of this remedy (7).
5. Portable Radio
This gopher repellent may sound strange to a number of people, but it does help in getting rid of these varmints. Utilise a battery powered portable radio and put it in a Ziploc bag so as to safeguard it from the moisture. Turn on the radio keeping the volume low and place it in those areas where gophers create more trouble. Gophers tend to leave this place in a couple of days, and if you find them coming back, then put it again.
This method is temporary and it is meant for the areas where gopher problems are not long term (8).
Poison is an extremely effective and popular method for controlling gopher. If you have pets or children, then be very cautious while using this method. You may find a wide number of poisons in the market that are good for gopher control. Zinc phosphide and strychnine are two such poisons that are used as popular gopher poisons (10).
Strychnine is a naturally found poison that is mixed with grain. Open a hole using broomstick, shovel or poking a rod into gopher tunnel and apply strychnine by hand into the tunnel. It is also done mechanically in heavily infested big grounds. The mechanical bait applicator creates an artificial burrow and places small quantities of strychnine bait every three feet down. Gophers discover this new burrow and eat the baits as they are fiercely territorial (11, 12). Another poison that can be used is an anticoagulant bait generally diphacinone. A solid block of grain, wax and diphacinone is made and placed in gopher tunnel which results in killing gophers as they consume it. According to a research in Sonoma Country, this method controlled 70% to 80% of the gophers after three to nine months of treatment (13, 14).
You can also make a bait using 4 quarts of vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, sugar beets or parsnips; Natural poison strychnine, 1/8 oz. and 1/80 oz. saccharine. Vegetable should be washed and drained. Cut them about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch square. Mix and dry saccharine and strychnine in a mortar or dish. Pour this mixture on dampened vegetables (15).
Gophers detest the smell of scents. Fish scent is one of the most popular amongst them. So, whenever you go for fishing next time or have some left over scraps, then simply place the scraps inside or near the tunnel(s) of the gopher in your lawn.
8. Castor Oil Repellent
Readily available castor oil is a very popular remedy to repel gophers (16). Its usage is scientifically proved in the Eastern United States. It gives the moles diarrhea when eaten. And as a result they leave the treated land in search of a new habitat. To prepare repellent, blend 1/4 cup of unrefined castor oil and 2 tablespoons of a dishwashing liquid. Now dilute this mixture at a rate of 2 tablespoons of solution to 1 gallon of water. Spray this mixture on the gopher affected area (17, 18).
You can also plant castor oil plant to get rid of gophers from lawns and garden (19).
9. Burrow Detonators/Blasters
Burrow blasters/detonators or Gas explosive devices are among the most popular methods for the complete removal of gophers. These burrow blasters particularly make use of a mixture of oxygen and propane to eliminate pests that exist in various secret tunnels. This technique causes pulmonary haemorrhage in gophers and kills them (20, 21). Propane gas is used in various devices to control animal pests, some of these devices are meant to kill them, while others are designed to produces loud noises to scare the pests (22).
This method has some injury hazards, so be cautious while using this technique (23).
10. Coffee Grounds
If you are a coffee addict, then this remedy will be the simplest for you. Sprinkle the used coffee grounds in the gopher openings. Now, cover the holes with soil. In addition, spread some grounds all around the garden area.
One of the gardener used 500 pounds of coffee grounds in a small area. He noticed that there was gradual decrease in gopher population but this remedy also resulted in nitrogen depletion of the soil (24).
11. Gopher Baskets
Use a gopher basket to plant vegetables and numerous other plants. These baskets are made up of chicken wire that assists in protecting the young roots until they are established completely.
You can either purchase these baskets from farm supply centres or nurseries or they can also be made at home. Use a double layer of 1-inch mesh chicken wire. This is used for shrubs and trees that require safeguarding only while young. Leave enough space to allow root development. For plants that need long term protection, baskets made from ½-inch mesh hardware cloth can be used. Larger areas can be protected by underground gopher fence. But this is a temporary solution as gopher are capable of digging deeper than 24 inches. To protect above ground parts of small plants, one gallon plant containers or plastic tubes are used (25, 26).
12. Dryer Sheets
The dryer sheets are used by many people to toss in their clothes for spongy, pleasant smelling laundry. These sheets can be used as a gopher repellent. Gophers detest the smell of strong scents that are present in dryer sheets. This is an inexpensive way to solve the gopher problem. Simply place a few dryer sheets into the gopher holes and cover them with soil.
13. Gas or Exhaust of Vehicles
The exhaust of your vehicle contains carbon monoxide that is harmful to gophers. So, utilise your vehicle’s exhaust and flood the tunnel of gophers with it. Connect a pipe to the engine exhaust and place it in the tunnel. Pack soil around the pipe and flood the whole tunnel network for 3 minutes. This method is known as Pressurized Exhaust Rodent Control (PERC) (27).
Burrow fumigants like aluminum phosphide and ignitable gas cartridges, are registered for the control of pocket gophers. The fumigants should not be used on lands, they are only meant to be used in gopher tunnels.
14. Vibrating Stakes
Use of vibrating stakes frightens both moles and gophers. Generally, these stakes are completely driven into the ground; hence, they remain invisible. Or else, they have a lawn ornament that projects out of the ground, just like a windmill. Such windmill type of vibrating stakes vibrate due to wind power, thus, does not require any battery. Stakes that are completely fixed into the grounds make use of batteries. Dig a hole and put the vibrating stake in it. Thereafter, put soil all around the hole until the stake is tightly seized. Make sure you don’t hammer or push a vibrating stake into the ground directly.
15. Increase Water Supply
This method to repel gophers is known as Flooding. Pour 5 gallon buckets of water in gopher tunnel or you can also use hose. It will not kill the pests instead it will force them to leave their burrows (31).
16. Decrease Food Supply
Generally, gophers feed on green vegetation, therefore, if your yard or garden does not contain any greenery and small shrubs; they will move to other lawns that are more fertile (33). Gophers find it unattractive to visit the unfavourable habitat, therefore remove gopher food sources from lawns and gardens to decrease their population (34).
Using mothballs is another way to keep the gophers away from your garden. Empty a number of balls into the gopher opening, and wrap it up with a plastic to keep the smell of the balls intact. As soon as they smell the naphthalene (moth balls) they will leave the yard (35).
This is a temporary solution and useful for the areas where there is less gopher population (36).
Place gopher traps in the tunnels or passageways of an active gopher mound. Excavate into the heap or mound, and put the trap diagonally into the tunnel. Wrap up the area with the help of a black plastic sheet or burlap in such a way that no light reaches into the hole. As soon as you trap them, leave them in a distant location from where they can’t come back.
Various gopher traps are available at farm supply stores. The Macabee type trap is one of them which is used in main tunnel, near fresh mound activity (38).
19. Tabasco Sauce
Mix 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, ½ cup castor oil and a few drops of peppermint oil in 1 cup of water. Shake well. Immerse cotton balls in this emulsion and put them into the gopher holes. It will keep the gophers away from your garden.
This technique is very useful to alleviate pocket gophers. It uses a simple method of burying Galvanized metal hardware cloth around garden fences (39).
21. Jalapeno peppers
Another effective remedy to repel gophers is by putting jalapeno peppers within 4 inches of the location where they are invading (40).
A nesting barn owl pair is found to eat 500 gophers a year. Predators are the easiest way to control gophers.
23. Wormwood Tea
Very useful in preventing gopher infestation. All you need is ½ pound of Artemesia leaves and 6 pints of water. Chop these leaves and bring it to boil in 2 pints of water. After boiling, simmer the solution for 1/2 an hour, keeping water at the same level. Then, strain the solution and add 1 quart of fresh water. Now you can spray this liquid underside of foliage.
Use the solution immediately after preparation.
24. Garlic and red chili powder
This strong smelling powder is a simplest way to get rid of gophers. Make this garlic fire spray using 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2-3 garlic bulbs, 12 hot chilli peppers, 3 squirts liquid detergent and 7 cups water. Blend all the ingredients, strain through muslin cloth and fill it in a spray bottle. Spraying this mixture in garden and lawns will repel gophers (41).
- Keep a pet at home to scare them away.
- Wear gloves while using the above remedies that involve building of a trap, repellent etc.
- The tunnel networks of gophers are wide and interconnected as they are rodents and reproduce rapidly. Infested areas are generally more prone to re-infestation, since the new gophers always like to use those old archaic tunnel networks. So, keep an eye on fresh gopher holes and quickly make a move to drive them off (42).
- Avoid touching poisonous things that you are employing on gophers directly with your hands.