Winter Mouse Damage

IMG_1081 (2)As the snow melted slowly this year winter damage became very apparent. Besides the downed trees and branches from the 2013 December ice storm I discovered mice damage to my Burning Bush (euonymus alatus). All of the stems have been completely girdled. Mice damage is common in a winter with persistent deep snow; the mice tunnel under the snow and feast on buried branches. All of the branches above the girdled area will die.

The shrub can be rescued by pruning it back to green wood below girdled parts. Burning Bushes can be coppiced to keep them small and can be trimmed into a hedge so they take pruning well. A shrub cut back as severely as this ones needs to be will take several seasons to recover. For those with less patience it just might be a good time to dig up the shrub and replace it with something new.

It is possible to prevent mice damage. There are repellents that can be sprayed or painted on. They do not harm the pest, just make the bark taste bad. They do wash off and may need to be reapplied. There are also commercial baits containing poisoned seed but these need to be used with caution.

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