Where’s the Pied Piper when you need him?

Watch out!  This is the time of year to keep a good look out for ground squirrels.  These four inch rodents can do such terrible damage that they can kill vines.

Watch for mounds and loose dirt around the base of your vines.   If your vineyard is less vigorous or your vines are wilting it may be a sign that the animals are digging around down there.   These varmints are prolific so getting ahead of the problem is important.

Stay on top of these ground squirrels, because if you don’t you may have other animals trying to do it for you.  That can be almost as bad as the rodents themselves.  Foxes, dogs or other predators will try to dig them out and that can kill a vine or render it useless with mounds of dirt and holes in the vineyard.

If you have just a few varmints, an easy way to control them is to use a rat trap (like a big mousetrap).  Bait the trap with peanut butter.  Come back thirty minutes later and take the dead squirrel out and re-bait the trap.

You may have to drill a hole in the trap and secure it to a post with a wire because a hungry fox or hawk may take the squirrel along with the trap before you get a chance to remove him.

If you have a large infestation you may consider using a device that puts propane into the holes.  When you light the propane.  Kaboom.  No more ground squirrels.  You won’t have to bury them either since they are already in the ground.

Of course, be careful with this method.  Play with fire at your own risk.

I don’t care for poisoned bait since I don’t know for sure that another animal won’t eat it.  I have heard of people putting the exhaust of a motor into the holes.  I haven’t done this myself so I can’t speak to the effectiveness of this technique.

You’ll have to make the final decision how you want to deal with the varmints, in the end.  Unfortunately the Pied Piper doesn’t live around these parts so you’ll have to get your hands dirty.

Staying ahead of the little buggers is the main thing.  They can multiply rapidly and take out several plants before you know it.  Keep your eyes peeled.

Good luck.