I do think what is doing the damage is a vole type animal. What I trapped was much larger than Google photos show it, though. It certainly wouldn't have fit into my hand. Also, the wire hanging baskets are enough to give protection and the spacing wouldn't prevent access by field mice, which are plentiful. Those didn't try to invade the house and garage this year. That's usually an annual attack. I've looked, but haven't seen any signs of tunneling. I think the critters are probably coming in overnight from the pasture rather than actually dwelling in the yard. I also think this is something new to the area. The fauna has changed since we moved here in 1950. Things that were once plentiful are now gone or extremely rare - horned lizards, ring-tailed cats, jack rabbits e.g. - and some things that weren't here in the beginning are plentiful now and some new ones seem to be ever increasing - white tailed deer, coyotes, turkey, lots of new bird species including the eastern bluebird and lots of different finches, with porcupines and badgers just now showing up in the area. Some of those have an impact on iris and other cultivated vegetation. I think this rodent has made the move. All damage here is nocturnal, but is beginning to cover an extensive area. When I trapped the one year before last, along with another the dogs caught and killed, the damage stopped immediately. Including all the wiring they were eating (the speedometer cable on the pickup every night for weeks). Last year there was some damage to the iris, but not a lot. However, they consumed all the rubber/plastic on a high wheel trimmer. I set it in the yard and the dogs excavated a hole 3' x 1' trying to catch it until they finally succeeded. At that point there was no further damage to iris or anything else. So I'm thinking it doesn't take great numbers for them to produce a lot of damage. What success have you had at controlling it?
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Iris" <iris@...> wrote:
> Hi Donald,
> This is Bonnie from Ca. Cottontails will not do that, but who will do that is Voles, aka Meadow Mice. Have you seen or heard them munching? They did so much damage this pass fall. If the rhizome is still there the will come back.
> I can give you more information later. You are welcome to ask questions. My husband and I feel like we are experts by now!!!
> Good Luck!
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Donald Eaves
> To: email@example.com
> Sent: Sunday, January 30, 2011 5:26 PM
> Subject: [iris-photos] CULT: year round food
> In summer and fall it's grasshoppers. In winter and spring when it's dry
> it's something else. Not totally sure who the culpret is, but I strongly
> suspect field rats. They were the cause year before last when it had been
> dry and there was nothing green in the winter months. When I finally caught
> one in a trap it was as large as a tree squirrel. At least so far they
> aren't eating all the wiring they can find. It's not mice because a wire
> basket is enough to prevent further damage and they would have no trouble
> getting inside the wires. Not deer or I'd have seen the tracks. Might be
> cottontails, but they hang around in the iris beds year round and don't
> damage them. Also the dogs live and dream about chasing them. The damage
> is way to widespread for them to have overlooked rabbits for that long.
> Whole areas of the iris look like they've had a weedeater taken to them -
> and a ragged job of it at that. Every day there is more damage. Can't win.
> Beds that were filled up with oak leaves promptly get eaten when they are
> cleared. This was a seedling from last year. That group hasn't had any
> breaks at all from the time they were planted. Probably will have to wait
> another year to see much bloom from them.
> Donald Eaves
> Texas Zone 7b, USA