Chemical-Free Protection Against Burrowing Pests

By Jolene Hansen

Burrowing pests, such as moles, voles and gophers, turn high hopes into heartbreak when plants you've nurtured fall victim to their tunnels and holes. While some of these pests damage plants by feeding on vital plant parts, others inflict collateral damage as they chase after subterranean insects. Either way, you and your landscape suffer when plants take a hit from these destructive pests.

Many of the options for managing burrowing pests involve traps, chemicals or complicated barriers. While these types of burrowing pest controls can be very effective, they aren't the only options for preventing root damage and saving plants. Easy-to-use Amdro® Mole, Vole & Gopher Blockers provide a simple, effective, chemical-free alternative to suit organic and non-organic gardeners. To protect your plants, start by understanding the "Big Three" of burrowing pests and the damage they produce:


The first sign of moles in your lawn or garden is usually a network of raised tunnels just below the soil surface. Along with those feeding tunnels, you'll soon find cone-shaped molehills scattered throughout your lawn. On close inspection, molehills reveal a centered entry hole, which may be open or plugged with soil.

Moles are more closely related to bats than rodents.

Though moles don't feed on plants, plant roots suffer significantly when they interfere with the hunt for insects, earthworms and grubs. In 60 seconds, a burrowing mole can tunnel 12 inches.1 Feeding and tunneling continue around the clock as moles search for food. If unprotected, old plants sustain damage, and new plants get pushed up and out of soil.

Many people lump moles in with rodents, but these creatures are more akin to bats than gophers or mice. Rarely seen outside their tunnels, common moles grow up to 8 inches long, covered in silvery gray fur. Learn to recognize their long, pointed snouts and small, fur-obscured eyes — and the oversize, heavily clawed front feet that make digging through plant roots fast and easy.

Molehills are volcano-shaped with a central hole.


In regions where snow covers lawns and gardens in winter, the first shock of vole damage often comes when snow melt reveals a maze of bare, above-ground runways where green grass once was. In warmer temperatures, the runways between vole burrows stay hidden under fresh grass clippings or low-hanging ground covers.

Voles are mouse-like rodents with short legs and short, furry tails.

Unlike moles, voles are rodents that feed heavily on plants, from flowers, vegetables and grasses to seeds and bulbs. Tree and shrub bark slightly above or below ground level is a favorite vole target. These pests frequently eat away the bark all the way around the trunk or stem, girdling the plant so nutrients no longer flow. The damage spells slow, sure death for your favorite trees and shrubs.

Also known as meadow mice, common voles grow up to 8 inches long, including their short, fur-covered tails. Compared to common house mice, voles are larger and huskier overall and have longer gray or brown fur. Their ears are much smaller and their legs are shorter as well. Voles are prolific breeders that mature rapidly. In prime conditions, populations can skyrocket to thousands of these pests in a single acre.2

Homeowners often discover vole damage when snow melts in spring.


In gopher-prone areas, stories of watching plants disappear into the ground abound. Common gophers are notorious plant-feeding pests known to pull entire plants down into their tunnels as helpless gardeners look on. Most gopher damage occurs underground as these pests feed on plant roots, but they're known to strike plants above ground, too.

Gophers have well-developed whiskers and incisors, both used in tunneling.
Unlike mole tunnels, gopher tunnels stay hidden deeper underground, but piles of freshly displaced soil confirm who's at work. Unlike conical molehills, gopher mounds fan up and out in a crescent or horseshoe-like shape. You'll find their plugged entry hole located at one side. Elaborate burrow systems can cover up to 2,000 square feet.3

Gophers typically grow up to 10 inches long, with short gray-brown fur, tiny ears and small eyes. Abundant sensitive whiskers combine with strong shoulders, very large incisors and large, clawed forefeet to help these pests burrow around the clock year-round. To help their inner mouth stay dirt-free as they dig with through soil, gopher anatomy allows them to close their lips behind their large front teeth.3

Gopher mound holes are at the mound's side, not the center.


When burrowing pests threaten your landscape plants, effective protection prevents plant damage and disappointment. Chemical-free plant protection doesn't get any simpler than AMDRO® Mole, Vole & Gopher Blockers. Ideal complements to organic gardening methods, these highly effective products create a flexible, stainless steel mesh basket that protects the root zone and keeps burrowing pests out.

Choose from 1-gallon and 5-gallon sizes to correspond with popular nursery container sizes for plants such as perennials, roses, shrubs and fruit trees. Simply remove your plant from its nursery container, and then open the mesh blocker into a bowl shape. Center the root ball in the blocker, just as you would if you were planting your plant in a new pot. Then roll the flexible mesh sides up around the root ball, and continue the planting process. Make sure the mesh extends up above ground level, to stop voles from reaching plant stems and bark.

With Amdro® Mole, Vole & Gopher Blockers, you can protect your favorite plants from burrowing pests without chemicals or traps. The Amdro® brand is committed to providing gardeners with timely, expert advice and premium, cutting-edge pest controls, including chemical-free, solutions to meet the needs of gardeners.

Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions.

Amdro is a registered trademark of Central Garden & Pet Company.



1. B. S. Fresenburg, "How to Control Moles and Reduce Turfgrass Damage," University of Missouri Integrated Pest Management, September 2015.

2. T. P. Salmon and W. P. Gorenzel, "Voles (Meadow Mice)," UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, June 2010.

3. T. P. Salmon and R. A. Baldwin, "Pocket Gophers," UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, September 2009.