What might be eating tulip bulbs?

Asked November 24, 2013, 4:07 PM EST

I'm curious what creatures will eat tulip bulbs. I have planted a number of bulbs throughout some landscaping. When I was there last week to prune back the perennials I noticed what appeared to be areas where a mole had dug through. Now I understand that moles are insectivores and do not eat bulbs, however, the areas of raised ground happened to be everywhere I had planted the bulbs.
My understanding is that other animals will use the moles tunnels to get around (voles, etc.), however, do they actually tunnel under the ground themselves? If not, why would a mole go to all the places scattered over a good sized area that I had planted bulbs? I plan to go there in a day or two and if the ground is not too frozen dig into the area and see if I can find the bulbs.

Anoka County Minnesota

1 Response

The most likely culprit would be squirrel and/or their big brother groundhog. They are digging more at this time, to both find food - your bulbs - and to bury their winter cache. They commonly go after newly planted bulbs because they are easy to find and excavate. Their success should be somewhat limited, as tulip bulbs are planted 8-9 inches deep, and they may not dig that deeply. Unless you have a very motivated squirrel. Groundhogs develope sophisticated tunnel systems, but they also hibernate.

There's not much to be done to control them. Removing them starves the victim by taking them away from their known food supply. This makes room for more to move in. If you feed them more will move in. Freezing of the ground is the most reliable control. That usually happens by Thanksgiving, and this year that seems possible.

What's Digging Holes in My Garden?
http://www1.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/wildlife/whats-digging-holes/

Yard and Garden News, Vol 10 No. 2, see Groundhog:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/projects/yardandgarden/YGLNews/YGLNewsFeb12008.html