Dear Joan: After living here almost 40 years, we are suddenly seeing gopher or mole mounds popping up all over the seams of our front sidewalk and driveway.
From time to time, we and some neighbors have seen this happen on our lawns, but this is the first time I have seen it in the concrete areas. I’m unsure how to tackle this since there is little space between the concrete joints to place traps or drop some poison.
Am I going to need professional help or is there a way to do this yourself?
— Don Senger
Dear Don: I turned to the experts at the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District for an answer, and Terry Davis, vertebrate program supervisor for the district, says those mounds are the work of moles.
That’s actually good news because you really don’t need to do anything. Moles are mostly harmless. They eat insects, which they find by burrowing in the soil. They won’t eat your garden plants, and any damage they cause is accidental, disturbing roots around the plants.
They don’t chew on pipes or wires. They just tunnel and eat worms, beetles and other denizens of the deep.
Their tunnels can create unsightly ridges in lawns, but they rarely cause structural damage to buildings or sidewalks. The biggest problem would be water coming in through the tunnels.
You can minimize the risk by collapsing the tunnels that lead up to the sidewalks, and you can do that by stomping on them. Invite the neighbors and make a party of it.
It will be much easier to ignore the mole than to try to trap it or kill it. Please don’t attempt to use poisons as you’re more likely to kill other animals than the moles, which don’t eat grains and other poison baits. Traps are mostly ineffective because the moles push dirt ahead of them, which will trigger the trap before they get to it.
You can encourage the mole to move elsewhere by eliminating or reducing its food source. Use beneficial nematodes to kill grubs, and practice good lawn care.
As for the mounds of earth on the sidewalks, just sweep them away.
Dear Joan: People tell me that I’m wrong to give my dog chocolate, but he loves it and he’s never had any sickness or trouble with it.
I don’t give him a lot. He’s part German shepherd and is a medium-sized dog — or maybe a smaller large dog. I give him a couple of Hershey’s Kisses every few days instead of a regular dog treat. He licks his lips and does a little dance.
I just can’t believe chocolate is all that bad for dogs.
Dear A.J.: It is harmful to dogs, but the amount given, the type of chocolate and the size of the dog determines just how harmful. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is easily metabolized in humans, but takes dogs much longer to process. Dark chocolate has the most theobromine; white and milk chocolate the least.
If given in large enough amounts, it can overwhelm the dog’s system. The first sign of a problem usually is hyperactivity.
Even though your dog appears fine, giving chocolate still is a dangerous thing to do because it could encourage the dog to get into your chocolate stash and OD on it.
Morris writes fro the Bay Area News Group. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org