It's necessary to determine whether the varmint is a mole (taupe) or a vole (rat-taupe). Moles' tunnels are just below the surface, and moles do not typically attack plants (they eat insects and worms). Voles' tunnels are deeper, in galleries, and they will definitely bother pretty much any plant. I have a placard full of infernal devices to deal with both, tho I usually don't go after moles. The most effective thing for voles I've found is the exploding-firecracker device sold in garden shops, called a détaupeur, but it's rather pricey per use. The explosion is triggered by a plunger which fits into a plastic stake. For voles, you should get the plunger which is designed for them, it's a bit different from the standard one for moles. My neighbor swears by tourteau de ricin, which is sold, for instance, here.. it's very toxic for pets, so if you do use it, be sure to put it well into the vole's tunnel and cover the entry very carefully. There are many different traps sold (their number suggests that none is perfect), and I've tried most of them. The ultrasound devices which are supposed to chase them away don't seem to work real well, but they are certainly safe.
We certainly have a lot of moles this year; a veritable infestation almost. I've tried gassing them with some cyanide based smoke bombs that I got in the DIY store pet section (who lays out stores like that). This did seem to kill them off since they stopped making hills - some of them get to about a foot tall and then mash or block the mower - but after a week or so the hills returned. I'm not sure if this is different moles or the original ones who returned from a vacation elsewhere in mole-city until the gas settled.
Our neighbour says she never has any moles. She has cats, a terrier, mental chickens and a herd of large cows so I imagine her moles left for a more quiet life in our pastures.
My dog caught a few over the years, and now he's gone I think I might try the methods virtdave suggested which I couldn't before because he'd eat the poison or set off the trap before I even got back inside. How he ever lived to a ripe old age I can't fathom.
Perhaps that depends on the particular species of vole? I think there are several. The voles we get do usually leave "volehills", which look very much like molehills. I can, when I get success with traps, easily distinguish them. As I noted above, it's the voles that drive me crazy, but those with nicer lawns might find the moles quite pesky. I plan to try, with caution, the ricin-based poison next spring, and will report the results....but folks with cats (which might eat dead poisoned critters) or terrier-version dogs might not want to put out this very toxic poison.
I did use the tourteau de ricin this summer, putting a tablespoon down many of the numerous holes which had appeared in our pasture, then plugging up the holes with a bit of dirt to discourage dogs and cats from getting poisoned. I think it may have worked, at least we're bothered quite a bit less now. The particular pest which was apparently responsible for the holes never produced much in the way of mounds of dirt, just lots of holes, and a neighbor indicated this type of varmint has been very common this year in Creuse. We do continue to have some molehill-producing pests, like rat-taupes and taupes, and I've bagged a few of them with the détaupeur and the mechanical Swiss trap, but these don't seem to work on the no-mound-producing ones.
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