Herr Ludwig Heissmahn, up to the end of 1907, landlord of the Dusseldorf restaurant Zur Mausefalle, wrote to a German paper to say that caterpillars were cleared out of his garden by petrol engine exhaust fumes.

In 1905, he wrote, a vine, two pear trees, and several dwarf shrubs fell victims to caterpillars; and at the beginning of the following spring, the insects again made their appearance, notwithstanding all precautions against them. In June, however, he laid out part of his garden as a cycle track for his two boys, who played at pace-following, each taking his turn at driving or following a 2hp Fafnir motor bicycle belonging to Herr Heissmann.

The boys “trained” twice a day, and through over-oiling the engine the exhaust lay tolerably thick at times over the garden. Later in the summer, his eldest boy came to him with the news that the caterpillars were gone, adding that in his opinion they could not stand the fumes of the petrol. Herr Heissmann and the gardener verified the boy’s statement about the absence of the caterpillars, and he remarked that he had never seen his garden with such a show of fruit and flowers as in 1907.

We may say that the editor of the paper in question having received a letter respecting petrol exhaust as a caterpillar-destroyer, had asked for corroborative evidence on this point, a request which drew forth Herr Heissmann’s communication. We wonder whether any English readers are in a position to produce similar evidence.

The above is from the Membership Secretary and editor of Exhaust Notes, the official publication the Irish Veteran and Vintage Motorcycle Club.


I have tried a similar tactic in my large garden shed. It gets over ridden by mice in the winter and they chew holes in any fabric product or foam rubber, as in seats. I pushed my Norton ES2, which sometimes smokes a bit, into the shed and fired it up.

I let her run for 5 minutes and did it again a hour later. Not certain if it worked but petrol is dearer than mouse bait and I gave it up. I do use a very successful method of getting rid of moles. It does not harm them; it drives them away to next doors garden. When the mounds of soil appear in your lawn, poke astick down the hole and drop a lump of Calcium Carbide down the hole. The naturally damp ground reacts and acetylene gas is given off. This permeates down all the mole tunnels and they move next door. If you are a bit mercenary, you can offer to clear their moles for a small fee and gradually work your way up the lane until the moles are all in the next parish. This system also worked for rats.

For the information of younger riders, Calcium Carbide is used in the gas lamps that many veteran and vintage bikes relied on as the Sun went down. Supplies can be obtained from ‘Caving’ shops, there’s one in Buxton. In my past life, I did a bit of caving and used a gas lamp clipped on my helmet. Cheaper than batteries, a few lumps of carbide in a sealed container, and a small supply of liquid; conveniently carried by gentlemen.

Editor Geoff

P.S. Since writing the above about my skills in persuading moles to go away: I was doing a search on Google, and I entered APMC UK. To my surprise an APMC web site appeared at the top. I did not know we had a website, so I opened it and there it was: “The Association of Professional Mole Catchers”.

Now here’s the question; are any of our members, also members of this mole catchers outfit? Reading their notes I believe I might qualify as an association member. However I am not a ‘Catcher’, I’m a ‘Chaser’. Chasing them from garden to garden. I don’t agree with killing them. So should I start an “Association of Part-time Mole Chasers?

Another P.S. The lady next door has erected an extensive bird feeding station. This has attracted all the rats in the parish to move into our area. The local rat catcher says they are nocturnal creatures: not this lot. They can be seen climbing all over her bird tables tucking the food away and basking in the sun. Just like a lot of holiday makers on the Costa Brava. I haven’t got enough calcium carbide for them, so I am considering pushing my unlit Oxy/Acetylene welding torch into their holes to see if that shifts them.

However, a build up of welding gas, someone dropping a fag end might turn the lane into a smaller version of the Grand Canyon, and reports of rats landing on the moon. They will be happy; plenty of cheese there.

I’ll stop now, the nurse is coming…

And another P.S. I wrote this in May, and recently our Treasurer, John Knight, has been trying to set up a website for the APMC. The Professional Mole Catchers have put a stop to that, so John is busy trying to find a way around this problem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *