Revenge of the farfugium nerd

A few weeks ago I wrote a post waxing poetic about my farfugiums. Since then, something has been chewing on them; in fact, half of the leaves of my variegated farfugium are now gone! This is a very slow growing plant as it is because of the lack of chlorophyll in the leaves, and having even two or three leaves missing will diminish the plant’s vitality even more. Needless to say I’m not happy!

Farfugium japonicum 'Argenteum' in its heyday just a month ago
Farfugium japonicum 'Argenteum' with chewed leaves

My first line of defense was to put wire cages around the plants targeted by these pernicious attacks. I put a piece of plastic on top of this particular cage to make sure nothing could entered from the top.

Wire cage around farfugium

That worked in the spring when we had similar problems. Back then, I thought the damage was caused by rats, which we do have in our yard occasionally and which we have successfully caught with our trusty Rat Zapper. However, this time around the cages didn’t keep out the culprits because there was more damage the next morning. Hmmm, what else could it be then?

Looking at the mesh, I realized that even though it won’t let a rat through, it probably isn’t quite tight enough to keep mice out—especially considering that they have the ability to seemingly shrink themselves to a fraction of their real size when it comes to squeezing through small holes. Ding, ding, ding, light bulb flashing in my head! After a whirlwind trip to our neighborhood hardware store, I was the proud owner of a couple of high-tech mouse traps that are so much easier to set and reuse than the old-fashioned wooden ones with a wire bail.

High-tech mouse trap baited with cheese

The morning after I set out the traps I found them tripped, with the bait gone but no corpse. I decided to put the traps on bricks instead of the ground which is uneven and soft because of the bark mulch. This would steady the traps and make them more sensitive because there’s no give to the surface below. Nothing happened the next night but at least the bait didn’t get swiped either. And, on the third night, success! Culprit caught and rendered harmless.

Notice chewed leaf on the giant farfugium on the right

I’m going to leave the traps out for a while to see if I catch anything else—after, all mice aren’t exactly solitary animals! Hopefully I’ve been successful at staving off further attacks until my farfugiums can grow back the leaves they lost during this insidious but thankfully brief reign of rodent terror.