This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
For the Red Field or Bank-Vole (Microtus or Arvicola glareolus) that frequents meadows, rough pastures, woodland glades, borders of woods and plantations, there is no trap so telling as the Mouse or Small Bird Trap, baiting the table with a small piece of crust or hard cheese, and even the field vole cannot resist the temptation to nibble and strike the trap and be caught. A number of such traps properly set and carefully attended to soon clear a given area of either field or "grass" (bank) voles in woodlands, nurseries and gardens. The traps are cheap (4s. 6d. per dozen, 485. per gross, with flat springs; and with bow springs, 6s. per dozen, 54s. per gross). Kept well oiled, and safeguarded by string and peg, last indefinitely, no covering being required, only set tickle in the haunts or runs of the voles. Of course, this involves trouble late and early, but it is all-important for cultivators to safeguard their crops by timely repressive measures and not rely on aid from stoats, weasels, buzzards, owlets, crows, etc., which no game-preserver is likely to conserve.
A very old-fashioned trap for capturing mice and voles is the Inverted Sunk Flower-pot Trap (Fig. 95), which is made as follows: Take a large flower-pot, 11 or 12 in., and sink it inverted on a slate (q) nearly level with the surface of the ground in places frequented by house or wood mice, field or grass (bank) voles. Opposite the hole in the pot and 2 or 3 in. from the entrance, suspend a smooth wooden roller (s) turning freely on a piece of wire (t), and this hooked (u) outside the pot. Smear the roller with lard, or preferably rub well with cheese and dust with oatmeal. Sprinkle a little short straw or rough hay on the surface, but leaving the hole clear, and scatter a mixture of grass and clover seeds about the hole. The short-tailed field-mouse or vole, long-tailed field or wood-mouse, and the house-mouse, alike, will soon gather about the trap and, attracted by the dainty smell from the roller will leap upon it, thence be precipitated to the bottom, whence they cannot escape. The trap acts best when kept dry; therefore, in wet weather, a ridge tile may be placed over the trap so as to form a run and keep water from the aperture.
Instead of using a slate, the flower-pot may be inverted on a saucer of similar size, filling this with water so as to drown the voles or mice as they fall in. Dressing Seed before Sowing. To protect seeds, particularly beans and peas, from the ravages of mice and rats, it is advisable to dress the seed before sowing. For this purpose we have found paraffin oil the most effective. The process is very simple, an ordinary flower-pot sufficing to prepare the dressing as follows: Cork the hole tightly (Fig. 96, P y) and place in the seed (z). Sprinkle on sufficient paraffin to thoroughly moisten the top layer, then take the pot in both hands by the rim and shake the seed upward with a turnover movement, so as to bring the bottom seed by degrees to the top, and so on until every seed is thoroughly moistened, adding more paraffin if necessary, and in case of excess of this draining off the superfluous by holding the hand over one side, partly inverting the pot. If a little red lead be dusted on and the seed again shaken up, the seed will be faintly coated with the red lead. This was the way we first used the dressing, but lately have only used the paraffin, and durirg thirty years it has sufficed to protect broad beans and peas from the depredations of mice and rats.
The seed may be dressed on a large scale by simply placing in a vessel and flooding with paraffin and then placing in a sieve over a larger vessel to drain. The seed should be sown at once, covering with soil in the usual way. If the beans be infested by the bean-beetle, or the peas with pea-beetle, they will be destroyed by the paraffin penetrating through the thin skin of the seed where the weevils lie; indeed, the pests generally eat their way out shortly after treatment and die (Q a, R b), while other objectionable pests, such as millipedes, leave the treated seed alone.
Fig. 95. - Inverted Sunk Flower-pot Trap.
References: q, slate; r, inverted flower-pot; s, wooden roller; t, suspending wire; u, hooks; v, aperture; w, saucer for holding water; x, space between solid soil and flower-pot that may be stuffed with easily removed material so as to empty saucer of dead victims at intervals and renew bait before Sowing.
Fig. 96. - Effect of Dressing and not Dressing Beans and Peas
P, section of flower-pot: y, cork closing aperture; z, broad beans. Q, beans which before treatment were infested by bean beetle (Bruchus granarius); a, beetles come out of beans as result of dressing. R, peas infected before treatment with pea -beetle (Bruchus pisi): b, beetles that have come out of peas as result of dressing. S, portion of a row of peas untreated before sowing; c, devastation caused by mice. T, portion of pea-row from seed treated before sowing with paraffin oil: d, plants springing up and undisturbed. (Scale of pot and rows of peas, \ in. equals 1 in.; beans and peas, natural size.)
Another preparation for beans and peas sown in fields is that known as Street's Dressing: sulphate of copper (blue vitriol), 1 lb.; McDougall's sewage carbolic, 1 pint; water, 1½ gallon. Dissolve the bluestone in the water, add the carbolic, stir well, and sprinkle on the beans or peas heaped up on a hard floor, and turn several times with a shovel, using sufficient of the dressing to moisten every seed evenly. It is done the day before sowing, and as the water evaporates, a thin coating.of sulphate of copper is deposited on the seed-beans or peas which acts as a fungicide, while the carbolic destroys any bean or pea weevil in the seed, and this is protected to a great extent from being eaten by mice and rats, wood-pigeons, etc.