When ground-dwelling animal pests take up residence in your lawn, the results can be maddening. Gophers, moles and voles do extensive damage in a relatively short time, staying one step ahead of many homeowners. Without fast, effective action and the right animal-control products, your hard-won lawn can be destroyed. Victory over gophers, moles and voles depends on correctly identifying the culprit and meeting their challenges head on.
Gophers are elusive critters that rarely show themselves, but their freshly-excavated earth leaves no doubt they're around. Identify gopher mounds by their distinctive crescent shape and the hidden entry locations. A gopher mound fans out around a plugged entry hole, with dirt concentrated alongside an underground tunnel. When viewed from the side, the mound slopes down toward the gopher's entry.
Like other true rodents, gophers have long incisors that grow continuously. Kept short by gnawing, their chisel-like teeth combine with large, powerful claws on the gopher's front feet. These short-tailed herbivores help themselves to plant parts above and below ground. They feed on roots — including your favorite root vegetables — and occasionally make a grab for plants above the surface. Gophers gnaw at underground wiring and irrigation lines, and they're known to pull plants by the roots right down into their tunnels.
With many species in the United States, gophers average between 6 and 12 inches in length and prevail everywhere except the Northeast. The highest concentrations exist in the country's western half, where year-round gopher activity peaks in spring and fall.1 Much gopher damage is too deep to be seen from above, until erosion during heavy rains or flooding reveals their extensive tunnels.
Moles, like gophers, leave mounds of dirt at the site of their entry holes, but they also leave raised feeding tunnels just below the soil's surface to zig-zag across your prized lawn. Unlike gopher mounds, conical mole hills appear balanced when viewed from the side and have entry holes directly in their center.
Usually thought of as rodents, moles are insectivores more closely related to bats than rats. Instead of prominent incisors, moles have teeth suited to a diet of earthworms, grubs and insects. Much mole damage to lawn grasses and other plants occurs as a by-product of feeding as moles displace plant roots in their shallow runways. Mole burrows and pathways extend deep below the hills and feeding tunnels.
Mole species can be found throughout the United States, with the heaviest concentrations in the Midwest and East. Active except in extreme cold weather, moles average between 6 and 8 inches in length.2 Know them by their tiny eyes, extended pointy snouts, short front legs and large mitt-like front feet, which they use to displace large amounts of soil.
Also known as field or meadow mice, voles maintain networks of entry holes to underground dwellings. Instead of mounded dirt or raised tunnels, these true rodents build above-ground, trench-like runways between the holes, and keep them camouflaged with grass or snow. Once the grassy screen is raked away or snow cover melts, the brown, grassless paths are suddenly revealed.
Various vole species, present throughout the United States, average between 4 and 8 inches in length from nose to tail tip. Though similar in appearance to common mice, voles are generally larger and stockier, with partially hidden ears and shorter legs and tails.3
Effective animal-pest controls include fumigants, traps and bait. Choose the solution that fits your specific pests and preferences.
Fumigant controls, such as Amdro Gopher Gasser cartridges, release gases that travel through tunnel and burrow systems in lawns and gardens to kill the pests lurking beneath. Once ignited, the cartridge burns vigorously in the tunnel until it's completely spent. Fumigants are most effective in damp soils, which help keep gases concentrated in burrows and tunnels.
How to Use Amdro Gopher Gasser:
An easy-to-use trap, such as Amdro Gopher Trap, eliminates problem lawn pests without gasses or baits. Trap voles with common mousetraps set sideways across a run and covered with a box that doesn't interfere with movement. Gophers and moles call for specially designed traps.
To use Amdro Gopher Trap:
Pelleted bait products, such as Amdro Mole* & Gopher Bait, work when the targeted animal eats the bait and dies. Baits should be manually inserted into below-ground tunnels via the pest's entry hole or through an excavated opening into tunnels or feeding ridges.
How to use Amdro Mole* & Gopher Bait:
When animal pests strike, put a quick end to the madness and save your lawn from damage. Identify the pest behind your lawn problems, act quickly and partner with effective solutions from the Amdro line of animal control products. Repair bare spots and reclaim your lawn with the help of Pennington One Step Complete combination mulch, seed and fertilizer, and your lawn will soon be looking great again.
*Not for use on moles in CA, IN or NC
Amdro is a registered trademark of Central Garden & Pet Company. Pennington One Step Complete is a registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc.
1. Case, Ronald M. and Jasch, Bruce A., “Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage: Pocket Gophers," Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, 1994.
2. Henderson, F. Robert, “Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage: Moles," Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, 1994.
3. O'Brien, John M., “Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage: Voles," Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, 1994.