Single hills of earth scattered haphazardly in the garden need not be a reason to panic. Perhaps the underground visitor has long since moved out of our plot. However, when more and more mounds of freshly excavated soil appear, you should take an interest in the matter. The most important thing is to determine whether a grub has appeared in the garden, or perhaps a mole is making a mess here. Find out how to distinguish between these two pests and how to deal with them?
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Ground grub in the garden
The grub (Arvicola amphibius), also known as the water rat, is a rodent of the hamster family. Its food is plants, while the mole feeds primarily on small soil-dwelling animals, such as spider mites, caterpillars, earthworms, wireworms, etc.
The mole and grub live underground. The water rat inhabits water banks and establishes burrows in moist soil – usually in uncultivated areas. It is also encountered in orchards and gardens, where it causes damage to vegetation, biting the roots of trees and shrubs, leading to their death.
The effects of these animals are easy to distinguish. Mole mounds have a regular shape, in the center of which is the opening of a vertical corridor. The hillock piled up by the grub is flattened on one side, and the entrance to the tunnel is at its foot. The grub digs tunnels high and and oval, carefully cleared of plant roots. The water rat is a more damaging guest in the garden than the mole, because in addition to the tunnels dug underground, it leaves behind damaged crops. The length of the grub’s torso ranges from 13 to 25 centimeters. The almost hairless tail measures 6 to 15 centimeters. The fur on the back is light brown, dark brown or almost black. The underside of the body is light, the ears and eyes are small. The teeth of the grub are constantly growing. The grub lives by waterways, and often also inhabits gardens, forests, orchards, meadows and fields.
Water garden rat – where does it live, what does it feed on?
The water rat spends most of its life in tunnels it has dug. These are extensive burrow systems with a nest, and in the storage chamber they gather supplies for the winter. They feed on plants, small vertebrates and smaller fish. Individuals living away from water spend most of the day underground, and are active mainly at night. They usually feed on underground parts of plants. In the garden, the favorite delicacy of grubs are the bulbs of many flowering plants, carrots, celery, potatoes, cabbage roots. The grub is very fond of eating vegetables – a huge bane for gardeners. Behind particularly tasty roots, the voracious rodent can go underground to a depth of one meter. The rodent does not fall into winter sleep. The grubs are very prolific, having 3-4 litters a year, with 6-8 young in each litter. The appearance of a grub in the garden requires an immediate response from the owner due to its rapid reproduction. In as little as eight weeks, the young reach sexual maturity, and gestation lasts only three weeks. The rapid proliferation of rodents can lead to massive damage among the plants in our garden and undo the efforts of even years of work.
Combating grubs and moles in the garden – traps for pests
We dig the tunnel for 20-30 cm in length. If it is inhabited the grub will quickly rebuild it. Then it is necessary to start action against rodents. The grub has a well-developed sense of smell and does not like certain odors. To protect the most vulnerable crops near them, plant garlic, imperial crown, wolfberry. Placed in the tunnel, fresh sprigs of elderberry and cattleya deter the grub with their scent. Water poured into the corridor, in which branches of these plants are soaked, has a similar effect. Capturing rodents using traps is not difficult. It is necessary to remember to perform all operations with rubber gloves, since the grub with its sensitive sense of smell senses the lightest foreign odor. In stores you can find various types of spring rodent traps. This takes advantage of the grub’s propensity to quickly repair damaged parts of its farm. Most traps for grubs, do not require any bait, but there are also those in which you need to place bait, a piece of apple, carrot or potato will work well. Great care should be taken when lining poisoned baits with carrots or grains. Do not place them outside, but as deep as possible in the tunnel being careful not to cover the poison. Covering the entrance hole will prevent other animals from reaching the bait. Natural rodent control methods and sound repellents are the safest, so primarily such should be used in the garden. Also note that water rats are under partial protection.