Are you tired of dealing with pesky gophers wreaking havoc on your lawn and garden? If so, you may have heard about the benefits of using neem oil as a natural repellent. But does it really work?
In this article, we’ll explore the effectiveness of neem oil in repelling gophers and other underground pests. We’ll also discuss other natural deterrents and methods for keeping your yard free from these unwanted visitors.
So, sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of gopher control.
Does Neem Oil Repel Gophers?
Neem oil is a natural insecticide that has been found to be effective in deterring certain pests, including grubs. As gophers feed on grubs, it is believed that neem oil may indirectly repel them by reducing their food source.
However, it’s important to note that there is limited research on the direct effectiveness of neem oil in repelling gophers. While some people have reported success using neem oil as a mole deterrent, it may not work for everyone.
Additionally, neem oil should be used with caution as it can also harm beneficial insects and pollinators. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully and avoid overuse.
Understanding Gophers And Their Behavior
Pocket gophers, also known as Thomomys species, are burrowing rodents that are well adapted to their digging and tunneling lifestyle. They have powerful forequarters, large-clawed front paws, and fine, short fur that doesn’t cake in wet soils. They also have small eyes and ears, and highly sensitive facial whiskers that assist with moving about in the dark.
Gophers get their name from the fur-lined, external cheek pouches, or pockets, they use for carrying food and nesting materials. They mostly feed on roots of trees, grasses, alfalfa, and dandelions, but also eat seeds, leaves, tender stems, tubers, and bulbs.
Their home is an extensive system of underground tunnels that are excavated four to 18 inches below the ground. A series of these tunnels made by one gopher may extend several hundred feet and cover an acre of ground. Areas of gopher activity are marked on the surface by numerous mounds of excavated soil.
The characteristic fan-shaped mounds, which may be 18 to 24 inches in diameter and about six inches high are at the ends of short lateral tunnels branching off the main runway. The surface opening through which soil is pushed from the tunnel is finally plugged by soil pushed into it from below, leaving a small circular depression on one side of the mound.
One pocket gopher may make as many as 200 soil mounds per year. The most active mound building time is during the spring. Pocket gophers do not hibernate and are active throughout the day with activity periods interspersed with rest. They seldom come above ground but may come out of their runnels at night and on cloudy days.
Pocket gophers can be valuable because they contribute to the formation and conditioning of soil, and they provide food for some of our large predators. However, they can become pests by eating garden crops, clover, roots of fruit trees, shrubs, alfalfa, or if their digging activities interfere with harvesting hay.
It’s important to understand gopher behavior when trying to control them. They are mostly solitary animals and except during the breeding season or when young are present, one gopher per tunnel is the rule. Pocket gophers can form colonies where many gophers may have individual burrows in the same field.
In areas where these rodents are not of economic significance, they should not be destroyed. Their control may be necessary when they become pests by eating garden crops or if their digging activities interfere with harvesting hay.
What Is Neem Oil And How Does It Work?
Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the neem tree, which is native to India. It contains a variety of compounds, with the most active being azadirachtin. Azadirachtin works as an insecticide by reducing insect feeding and acting as a repellent. It also interferes with insect hormone systems, making it difficult for insects to grow and lay eggs.
Neem oil is effective in treating fungal and bacterial diseases and can be used as a foliar spray or leaf shine to prevent leaf diseases. It’s particularly useful for indoor and hydroponic growers as it prevents spider mites.
When it comes to pest control, neem oil doesn’t kill insects on contact but rather alters their behavior over time. The active ingredient in neem oil, azadirachtin, causes insects to lose some of their natural instincts and eat less food, grow slowly and stop laying eggs. This dramatically affects the size of pest populations and prevents them from getting out of control in your garden.
Neem oil works to control feeding by giving insects a sense of nausea that stops them from going back for more neem-coated leaves. It also prevents insects from going through their life stages by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for making them molt out of larva and into adults. When insect larva is exposed to neem oil, they later develop into abnormal adults and can’t fully reach sexual maturity. Adult insects that eat neem become sterile and lose the hormones that make them want to mate, meaning that they don’t reproduce. Female insects exposed to neem often stop laying eggs, and the eggs that come into contact with neem oil usually don’t hatch or hatch into deformed larva.
Studies On Neem Oil As A Gopher Repellent
There have been limited studies on the direct effectiveness of neem oil in repelling gophers. However, some research suggests that neem oil may indirectly repel gophers by reducing their primary food source, grubs. Neem oil contains azadirachtin, which is the active ingredient responsible for its insecticidal properties. Azadirachtin affects the behavior and growth of insects, causing them to eat less food, grow slowly, and stop laying eggs. Over time, this can significantly reduce pest populations and prevent infestations from getting out of control.
While neem oil has been found to be effective in controlling other pests such as Japanese beetles and grubs, more research is needed to determine its effectiveness as a gopher repellent. It’s important to note that neem oil should be used with caution as it can also harm beneficial insects and pollinators. Therefore, it’s recommended to follow the instructions carefully and avoid overuse. Overall, neem oil may be a natural and eco-friendly option for controlling pests in your garden, but it’s important to consider other methods and consult with a professional if you have a severe infestation.
Other Natural Gopher Deterrents To Consider
Aside from neem oil, there are several other natural deterrents that you can consider to repel gophers from your property. These include:
1. Peppermint oil: Gophers do not like the smell of peppermint, so placing a few drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls and placing them inside tunnel entrances can help repel them.
2. Castor oil: Castor oil is a type of vegetable oil that has a strong odor and taste to gophers and other pests. You can make a DIY spray with castor oil to repel gophers by mixing it with dish soap and water.
3. Gopher baskets: These are wire baskets designed to surround and protect the root ball of plants, effectively preventing gophers from eating the roots. They are ideal for protecting a limited number of plants.
4. Natural deterrents: Other natural deterrents that you can try include fish oil, coffee grounds, and tabasco sauce. These substances can be placed near gopher tunnels or applied in the areas you want to protect, such as your garden beds.
It’s important to note that while these natural deterrents are humane and eco-friendly, they may require frequent re-application to be effective. Additionally, it’s important to use caution when handling certain substances, such as castor seeds which contain a toxic poison called ricin.
Tips For Preventing Gopher Infestations In Your Yard
Gophers can cause significant damage to your yard, so it’s important to take preventative measures to avoid infestations. Here are some tips to help prevent gopher infestations in your yard:
1. Remove their food sources: Gophers primarily feed on plant roots, bulbs, and tubers. By removing these food sources, you can discourage them from taking up residence in your yard. Consider using organic methods such as crop rotation, companion planting, and natural pest control methods to keep your plants healthy and reduce the presence of pests.
2. Keep your yard clean: Gophers are attracted to cluttered and unkempt yards. Keep your lawn mowed, remove any debris or piles of leaves, and trim back any overgrown shrubs or trees.
3. Use physical barriers: Installing wire mesh or hardware cloth around the perimeter of your garden beds can help prevent gophers from burrowing into them. You can also use raised garden beds or containers to keep your plants off the ground.
4. Use natural repellents: There are several natural repellents that can be used to discourage gophers from taking up residence in your yard. These include castor oil granules, peppermint oil, fabric softener sheets, and garlic stakes. However, it’s important to note that these methods may not work for everyone and may require frequent re-application.
5. Consider professional pest control: If you have a severe gopher infestation, it may be necessary to seek the help of a professional pest control service. They can provide effective solutions tailored to your specific situation.
By following these tips, you can help prevent gopher infestations in your yard and keep your plants healthy and thriving.
Conclusion: Is Neem Oil A Viable Solution For Gopher Control?
Based on the limited research available, it is unclear whether neem oil is a viable solution for gopher control. While it may indirectly repel gophers by reducing their food source, there is no direct evidence that neem oil can repel these pests. Therefore, it may not be the most effective solution for those dealing with a severe gopher infestation.
Furthermore, it’s important to consider the potential harm neem oil can cause to beneficial insects and pollinators. Using neem oil should be approached with caution and used according to the instructions provided.