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Posted by goodhors z5 MI (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 28, 05 at 9:44

I was wondering if everyone is having as much trouble with varmints as I am this year? I have NEVER had problems like I have seen with my shrubs and now the bulbs that are starting to show.
I have fenced off the shrubs that were showing the chew marks, most should survive. However they have chewed things like my young spruce trees, that have never had problems before. One looks like it is finished, completely girdled, along with a Witchita Juniper. Lots of gnaw marks on other shrubs, but only on one side before I found them, fenced them off.
Now the bulbs are starting to show, something keeps eating off the leaf tips and heads. First it was the crocus, now it's the tulips, just the tiny bits above ground. Leaving the daffodils alone. Crocus buds were half eaten, so poor flowers are only half sized!! They are also digging, small holes about 2" across, 1"-1 1/2" deep and bulbs are torn out of the ground. I ran a small fence around garden bed but found new holes this morning. Looks like a small varmint is coming out from under the porch skirting. Do voles eat bulbs? I have never heard of them digging. Looks like a small trail from under the porch, couple inches wide. I suppose a small skunk would fit the hole, but no stinky smell to say skunk. I didn't think skunks would eat plants, more looking/digging for worms, and with our dirt is still pretty frozen, no worms yet. No poops to mark rabbits, which I have been blaming for it, before I put up the fence. Dogs are not excited either, like they seem to get about rabbits, woodchucks and squirrels. They have never been skunked (THANK HEAVENS), may not recognize it as a varmint. I have taken rather small measures, some pine branches(spiky) to cover shoots, put up the 3ft fence with 1" square holes in front of porch, but not covering skirting. Pine branches only slowed them a day or so. Today I found more fresh dug holes and a tulip still oozing fluid at 8AM, so varmint had recently left. I threw out some moth balls near the shoots and holes under porch. Does seem to deter them in some instances.

I just don't know which varmint I might be dealing with. Voles could probably fit thru small fence holes, just digging is not what I expect them to do. Tulips out in other, unprotected locations where rabbits can go don't seem to be getting the same damage, if any! We are country, so wildlife is all around. This bed is my favorite for tulips, right beside the house. Fenced in dogs have prevented varmints from digging up bulbs or playing in bed, at least they did in the past! Dogs are in at night, go out about 7AM. I have thought of laying bricks along the skirting edge, to close the holes. Skirting under porch is solid, but not always touching ground. I have a large pile of old bricks that are intended for a path, available to me.

Guess I should be grateful the deer are not dancing thru the yard, trashing the whole place, like other folks report! I really enjoy my bright tulips, you wait so long for them!! I may have to find another bulb location if I can't solve the varmint mystery.

The weather this last few days, and the next few, looks like it will be pretty darn good. Dirt is real wet, but starting to feel like Spring!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Varmints

The little holes in the ground would make me guess skunk. A skunk would not neccessarily smell, I know, we had one in the basement once. It did NOT have an aroma.
Daffodils are toxic when eaten, so they are usually left alone.

Porkies will gnaw just about anything.
Voles will make tunnels under the snow, so that when the snow melts it shows up as half a tunnel. I hate voles and take no shame in elimination.

RE: Varmints

Most rodents will be repelled by hot pepper flakes. Grind up dried hot peppers & scatter in the areas to be protected. Keeps the rabbits away from my bulbs.

RE: Varmints

Strange, I've never heard of a Vole problem is squirrels. My elderly neighbor has been feeding them daily (for years) and I'm surrounded by a large extended family of various colored squirrels. I know the hot peppers can work but only until it rains. I've tried a commercial product called "Critter Ridder" and it also has short-term results. So far, the mothballs have been the best deterrant...but I'm surprised they're still hungry after all my neighbor's bread crumbs. :)
They've torn up about 50 square feet of my lawn looking for bugs and worms...I only hope spring gets here soon so they can start working on the tree buds.

RE: Varmints

I have new rodent problems this spring also. I am quite sure after my research that I have voles but also have something else in the same area. The half tunnels are all over and little holes in the same area. Also there are larger holes of some sort. Hopefully something eating voles and not the bulbs I am hoping to plant soon. We did see a dead oppossum in the same area. I just hope whatever the larger hole is from isn't worse than the voles. In 12 years we only had rodent problems once and that was in the fall. It turned out to be rats that time and was a nightmare for awhile. Hoping that we all get our rodent problems under control PRONTO! Btw, we have a cat outside, 2 dogs that are occasionally outside and bunches of neighbor dogs who patrol the infested area. There were no signs of rodent activity in the fall. Hubby cleaned everything up and there is no cover for these horrid animals. They have just dug right into the field. I am dumbfounded but will hopefully get traps set up soon to see exactly what we are dealing with. I wish I knew what the bigger holes were from. I hate to trap a predator of the voles. I would hate more than that to trap or encounter a skunk. Best of luck to all those with unusually bad rodent troubles this year. Shirley

RE: Varmints

For some reason, woodchucks seem to be particularly prevalent in Oakland County lately. They're brazen little things - our neighborhood is full of "sporting" dogs (Labs, Goldens, German shepherds, springers, pointers and so on), but they don't mind a bit, just sashay into people's yards and eat anything they please, occasionally including the dog.

Last year, the stinkers took out three weigela, a hydrangea, several hostas and two blueberry bushes, not to mention all our lettuce, squash, melons and garden herbs - and that was just our property. One even ate through the neighbor's raspberry patch. (I hope it gave him terminal indigestion.) Live traps we've put out invariably catch squirrels and raccoons, and then the woodchucks come in once all the traps are tripped.

Luckily for us, a wandering fox showed up and took care of the problem around August. I'm trying to figure out how to attract him or her back sooner than that...

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