Question: Yesterday, I found three deep, very round holes dug about 6 inches apart at the edge of my raised garden where I have had tulips planted for years. Dirt was kicked out, and baby tulip bulbs were scattered. Not one large bulb remained, and no pieces of large bulbs were present. These were very mature bulbs and bloomed well. We have an overabundance of rabbits and huge flocks of quail but don’t know of other critters here. Do you think rabbits have done this damage?
To my knowledge, rabbits typically focus on foliage. I have not heard of them digging for tulip bulbs.
We have jackrabbits and the desert cottontail. The jackrabbit will stand on its hind legs and eat fruit tree limbs and stems up to nearly an inch in diameter. Damage to fruit trees can extend to nearly 3 feet above ground from jackrabbits. I have never had them go after root crops in the orchard, only the leafy greens, including garlic and onions.
Our biggest pest problems for underground crops have been ground squirrels and gophers. Gophers attack from underground, but the ground squirrels can do damage similar to what you have observed above ground. My guess would be this is due to ground squirrels.
There are only two options for you. You can put screening around these areas or you can use poison bait. If you choose screening, you must not use chicken wire, as the holes are too large. You must use wire mesh or wire cloth with small-diameter holes.
Bob Morris is a professor emeritus in horticulture with the University of Nevada and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com. For more advice, check the Home section of Thursday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal.