While gophers play an integral role in our ecosystem by contributing organic matter to the soil and increasing aeration, they can also wreak havoc on your lawn. There are between 10-13 species of gopher in the United States, but the pocket gopher (named for the fur-lined pouches in their cheeks) is the most common type found in the Phoenix, AZ area. These underground dwellers create intricate tunnels stretching as far as 200 yards, damaging the integrity of your lawn and leaving unsightly exit holes, known as mounds.
How can I tell if I have gophers in my yard?
Because pocket gophers spend the large majority of their lives underground, you probably won’t see them wandering around. The best way to determine if you have pocket gophers tunneling on your property is to take a look at the mounds they create. Pocket gopher mounds are created as exit points above the tunnels. Unlike other rodents, pocket gophers create a fan pattern when they surface. The hole is then loosely plugged with soil at the center of the mound.
If left unaddressed, gophers can break utility pipes and electrical conduits laying underground, causing significant damage to your property and potentially hazardous conditions. When they eat roots, pocket gophers can destroy vegetation.
What is the difference between gophers, moles, and voles?
Because gophers, moles, and voles spend most of their lives underground, catching sight of them is rare. If you happen to spot one of them, here is the easiest way to tell them apart.
Pocket gopher mounds are shaped like crescents because they exit the soil at an angle. However, other potentially lawn-destroying pests in the Phoenix area include moles and voles. Unlike gophers, which create larger mounds, moles tend to leave a series of interconnected tunnels, known as a burrow system.
- Medium in size (5-14 inches long)
- Often mistaken for groundhogs
- Leave crescent-shaped mounds
Moles exit the ground from straight up, leaving a raised, cone-shaped hole instead of the fan-shaped mound characteristic of gophers. They can also create raised ridges in the soil, as can voles.
- Pointed nose
- Large, shovel-shaped front paws
- Leave cone-shaped mounds
Voles can’t dig as deeply as moles and gophers, so their tunnels are usually shallow, resembling runways with tiny, round holes serving as their exits. They also move into preexisting gopher and mole tunnels, so an absence of vole runways does not necessarily mean your lawn is pest-free.
- Resemble mice
- Short, skinny tails
- Leave runways and small holes
Why do I have gophers in my yard?
The most straightforward answer to the question is food. Gophers are vegetarians, feeding on grasses, tubers, roots, plants. Like gophers, voles have voracious appetites for plant life and even tree bark. On the other hand, moles are carnivores, sometimes called insectivores, which means their diet consists of insects.
The moisture level in your soil often plays a vital role in the presence of gophers, moles, and voles. All three prefer soft, moist soil, with arid soil providing the least hospitable environment. Dry soil makes it more difficult for them to dig their tunnels, but it also increases the likelihood of said tunnels collapsing in damp conditions.
Should I be worried about gophers in my yard?
Gophers can cause severe damage to your lawn if their presence goes unaddressed. In addition to unsightly mounds, they can demolish flower beds and ornamental plants. (If you notice your plants yellowing or wilting in otherwise optimal conditions, there is a high probability a gopher or a vole is to blame.)
Even more worrisome is the gopher’s ability to cause extensive property damage. With long claws and sharp teeth, gophers are capable of moving a ton of soil per year. Left unchecked, they can damage your pipes and buried electricity lines, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
How can I get rid of gophers?
DIY gopher control is not recommended. However, there are some things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of gopher activity on your property.
- Protect Your Garden– To protect your vegetable garden against gophers, you can dig a trench around the raised garden and install wire mesh. This takes a lot of effort and is more easily said than done, but it can be effective when done correctly.
- Natural Repellent– Some homeowners and gardeners have had success with planting specific types of plants that gophers are adverse to. This includes lavender and rosemary among others. While this isn’t a tried and true remedy, you might have some luck.
- Professional Wildlife Control– Trained wildlife control specialists can get rid of the gophers on your property with a variety of services. Call SOS for fast service.
Gophers spend most of their time under the ground which makes them a difficult species to get rid of and to control. While gophers are not naturally aggressive, they can bite if provoked. For guaranteed gopher removal, always contact SOS Exterminating and let us handle the issue professionally. We will create a customized plan to meet your gopher removal needs.
How can SOS Exterminating get rid of the gophers in my lawn?
SOS Exterminating can get rid of the gophers that are ruining your yard and eating your vegetable garden with our gopher removal services. Call us or fill out the contact form on this page for a gopher inspection at your home!