The Q&A Archives: Gophers

Question: I have seen those electronic pest deterrent devices in stores, and wonder if they are effective at all.

Answer: Some gardeners swear by the effectiveness of gopher deterrents and others just swear at them. Gophers and moles create problems in yards by digging tunnels and leaving mounds of soil all over. It's difficult to convince people, but these critters are actually beneficial in the garden. They feed on insects, help aerate the soil, and reduce soil compaction which improves drainage. Most gophers are immune to the effects of noise-makers, baits or smoke bombs. If they seem to become annoyed and move on, their moving is more likely due to their foraging for food than it is to being frightened off. Trapping is the only sure way to eliminate gophers, and scissors-type traps seem to have the best track record. You may have to set the trap over and over again to get rid of the gopher population, but persistence does pay off. In the meantime, the presence of moles or gophers is a compliment to your skills as a gardener. Their preference is for good garden loam, especially healthy soil brimming with insects.

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