Sounds like a mystery, doesn’t it? Maybe the title for a Hercule Poirot novel? Actually, it’s a real-life drama here at Happy Acres. And this is just the latest incident in what has become a continuing saga of missing plants. I’m no Inspector Clouseau, but I think I know what’s happening.
See, a while back I set out some lettuce and escarole plants in the greenhouse bed. It was November 4th, according to my garden log. That day I also sowed 2 rows of spinach nearby. Here’s what it looked like about 2 weeks later, on Nov 19th:
Notice the three escarole plants on the right. They are a darker green than the lettuce plants on the left, which are more of a yellow-green. The spinach is coming up, and needs to be thinned. Now look at this photo taken on Dec 13th:
The spinach plants have been thinned, and the lettuce plants have grown. But wait – there’s only two escarole plants!!! Closer inspection is in order:
There seems to be a hole where the escarole plant used to be. Let’s look a little closer:
It looks like a little bit of green material has been left in the hole. I wonder if we can get DNA evidence?!? A little digging reveals this:
It looks like the thief has left behind a piece of the missing plant. Notice the dark green color, which seems to match the remaining escarole plants.
It will take a couple of weeks to get the DNA evidence back from the crime lab, but all the evidence points to a habitual offender in this neck of the woods. I’m pretty sure it’s a member of the infamous Microtus gang, probably Microtus pennsylvanicus.
It also goes by the alias of Meadow Vole, and reportedly forms numerous underground tunnels as well as surface runways. It is allegedly vegetarian, feeding on seeds, tubers, bulbs, vegetables and ornamentals. I guess it is no surprise then it staked out Happy Acres for it’s crime spree!
A scan of the national crime database returned the following grainy mug shot:
Don’t let its seemingly cute appearance deceive you – this one is a dangerous criminal!!! It has already been implicated in the disappearances of several other individuals here, including Mr Lettuce and Mr Radicchio plus the entire Parsley Family earlier this year. All of them disappeared without a trace, other than the getaway hole left nearby, which seems to be this gang’s M.O.
Normally I am a mild-mannered nature lover but this is getting out of control! One of my MG friends puts a mousetrap baited with peanut butter and a sunflower seed near the hole, then covers the trap and hole with a large clay flower pot. She reports great success, though the voles reproduce prolifically and there are always more coming along to replace the vanquished. The only problem with this approach is that with my close plantings there’s usually not enough room to put the trap without removing even more plants.
I am at wit’s end and ready to call in Agent 007 – perhaps he and Q can devise some gadgetry to rid us of this hideous menace. I can only hope they are available. Besides, if there’s one thing we really like here at HA, it’s a good GADGET!
Does anyone out there have a strategy for dealing with voles???
(Vole image obtained from Wikipedia Commons and is in the public domain.)