A Guide to Animal Crop Pest Control

A guide to animal crop pest control, including coping with the crop culprits gophers and moles, deer, raccoons and skunks, rabbits and dogs and cats.


This guide to animal crop pest control includes helpful methods of dealing with animals that ruin crops like gophers and moles, deer, raccoons and skunks, rabbits and dogs and cats. 


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A Guide to Animal Crop Pest Control


Likely targets: Gophers eat the underground portions of garden crops. Their mounds sometimes smother small plants, and their gnawing can girdle and kill young trees. Moles eat insects but no garden crops.

While moles dig extensive tunnels that mar the looks of a manicured lawn or garden and can damage some plants, for the most part these animals are beneficial. Voracious insectivores, they eat their weight each day in cutworms, wireworms, sowbugs, grubs, centipedes, millipedes and Japanese beetle larvae. (True, they do prey on earthworms, as well.)

Gophers also tunnel around just below the surface, but these larger creatures (a gopher may weigh 12 ounces, a mole just three) readily consume crop roots. They also live more communally, with as many as 16 to 20 animals per acre.


  • Castor beans or mole plants (Euphorbia lathyris) can be planted around or in a garden. The bean seeds can also be dropped in tunnels. However, both plants are highly poisonous and should not be used in any gardens near small children.
  • Spray a solution of one tablespoon of castor oil and one tablespoon of liquid detergent per gallon of warm water on soil and plants.
  • Scatter human or dog hair about.
  • Stick pinwheels into tunnels, about 20 feet apart. The vibrations are reported to repel the beasts. Commercial “gopher windmills” are available.
  • Set empty narrow-mouthed bottles in tunnels. Winds will produce a moaning noise that is said to repel the pests.
  • Place elderberry cuttings in the tunnels. Sprinkle chili powder and powdered garlic into tunnels weekly.
  • Set baited live traps near gopher exits and in mole tunnels.
  • For serious problems, erect a 1/4-inch hardware cloth fence that extends two feet below ground and one foot above.
  • Place rolled-up pieces of juicy Fruit gum in mole tunnels. (Wear gloves to mask your scent when you unwrap the gum.) Moles love it, but it clogs their innards, fatally.