These large pests are no joke for a gardener

Holey Moley
Holey Moley

As we stand on the threshold of a new growing season, there is the usual buzz of anticipation for crops to come but it’s tempered by thoughts of other organisms waiting in the wings determined to have their share of the spoils.

Aphids, larvae, beetles and bugs we can accept as part and parcel of gardening but when bigger creatures turn up and rain on your parade there is a sense of outrage.

Two woodpigeons have taken up residence in this garden and they’re both laid back in terms of fear. There was a time they’d fly off if we appeared, now they simply waddle a pace or two, always keeping at arm’s length.

Their feeding strategy amounts to sitting beneath the bird table fat balls gobbling up the food fallout created by smaller birds. Lazy and overweight, I foresee them feasting on our green vegetables all season unless adequate netting is in place.

The most recent unwelcome visitor is a baby rabbit which entertains daily with s lamb-like acrobatics, darting about the lawn performing somersaults. But we’ve also watched it nibbling at the emerging shoots of herbaceous perennials in the mixed border so I’m not falling into the ‘Ah, isn’t it cute’ trap. Shooing is enough to send it scuttling off through the beech hedge into the field at present, but if it sticks around for Easter and others turn up - I’ll have to take the gloves off!

Holey Moley! The common mole (Talpa europaea) has appeared in large numbers everywhere throughout winter and still the activity continues. The local population clearly safe from extinction at present. My attention focused on them in late autumn with a request to write a piece for the parish magazine, but what followed suggests that one of them read it and saw me as a friend.

We’ve had the occasional presence in our garden over the years but nothing serious, so I outlined the different methods of control available for those who wished to pursue them; poisonous bait, smokes, traps, electronic devices, etc.

The conclusion was that a live-and-let live policy existed here as long as they remained outside the hedge.

That’s when they first appeared, and remain, on our substantial roadside grass verge.