The first sign was holes in the hay we keep between rows on Veg Hill. Dozens of them, about 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter, stopping at the cardboard below the hay.
Then we noticed the same holes in the hay mulch around the blueberry bushes. Didn’t take much asking around to figure out that we have one or more armadillos rooting around Longleaf Breeze.
It’s not really a surprise. Over the last couple of decades, armadillos have gone from nonexistent to ubiquitous in the southeast. A while ago I asked our cousin Charles Edwards in Troy (knowledgeable about all such matters and plain-spoken) about the natural predators of armadillos. His answer: Goodyear.
And that’s more or less correct. Aside from an occasional baby that gets snatched by a hawk, armadillos have little to fear from nature, so it falls to humans (who no doubt brought them here in the first place) to control their population.
It’s probably helpful to digress here and say that armadillos have no interest in the food crops we’re growing. What they’re after are the grubs that thrive in our soil. To my knowledge, this invader has so far done no damage, zero, to any of our crops. Amanda believes it’s just a matter of time, though, until the armadillo does two things: (a) disturbs our food crops while looking for grubs and (b) finds another little armadillo and makes lots more little armadillos. So our choice is clear: the armadillo must go.
My friend Debra McCord waits patiently on her porch all night long with her 12-gauge across her lap. When she spies the armadillo, she does her best to dispatch it. Ditto my cousin Charles (on the other side of the family from Charles Edwards). Neither Amanda nor I is as patient or as tolerant of sleep deprivation as Debra or Charles, so our solution is traps. We have purchased two Kage-All armadillo traps, and I have set them up end-to-end on the Blueberry Strip.
Unlike raccoons, armadillos don’t respond much to bait. Armadillos are more or less blind and respond more to their sense of touch than to anything else, so the recommended way to get them into the trap is to set up boards that direct them into it. I used treated pine 1 x 8 x 14s, held upright with 18″ lengths of rebar. Not that we expect it to do much good, but we’ve also sprinkled a few mini-marshmallows in the area leading to the door of each trap.
The traps have been in place for a week now, and we haven’t had a guest to arrive yet. I’m not able to say why, but I suppose it’s possible the armadillos are less active when the weather gets colder. It’s also possible, of course, that this is all a big waste of time and energy.