Colusa County Master Gardener’s: Gophers

Gophers are small burrowing rodents that feed on roots of many plants all while damaging irrigation lines and sprinkler systems. A single gopher can ruin a garden in a short time and the early detection is critical to prevent damage.

Many gardeners combine the use of traps and underground fencing to manage problems. Although toxic baits are available, they can pose threats to wildlife, pets and children, especially in backyard situations.

Here are a few tips to help manage your gopher problem.

Keep your eye out for gopher mounds.

  • – Gophers spend almost all their time underground in their burrow.
  • – Look for mounds of loose dirt that are half circles or crescent shaped.
  • – Fresh mounds are the sign of an active gopher. A single gopher can create several a day.
  • – In contrast to gopher mounds, mole mounds are circular with a plug in the middle and ground squirrel holes are unplugged without a mound.

Protect plants with underground fencing.

  • – Lay hardware cloth or ¾ inch mesh wire under raised beds before planting.
  • – Wire baskets can also help.

Use traps to reduce the gopher population.

  • – Gopher traps are placed underground inside the burrow, so you must use a probe to locate the burrow.
  • – Be sure to place traps in active burrows.
  • – Two common types of traps are pincer and box traps.
  • – Cover the hole so light does not get in.
  • – Check traps often and reset as necessary.
  • – Keep trapping until no new mounds are formed.
  • – Gopher traps do not require food baits.

Avoid products and methods that are not proven.

  • – Owl boxes are unlikely to reduce gopher numbers.
  • – No repellents currently sold work.
  • – Plants such as gopher purge, castor bean and garlic have not been shown to repel gophers.
  • – Frightening devices have not shown to be effective.
  • – Fumigation with smoke or gas cartridges is not effective because gophers can seal off their burrows rapidly.

For more information visit www.ipm.ucdavis.edu

Contributed by The Master Gardeners of Colusa County. They can be contacted by: Phone (530) 458-0570. Email glhernandez@ucanr.edu. office, 100 Sunrise Blvd., Ste. E, Colusa,