There are six species of moles living in North America where by far the most common yard and garden pest is the Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus). Classified as insectivores, they tunnel year round in their below-ground network (often using each tunnel only once) searching for earthworms, larvae (grubs) and other insects on which they feed.
Getting rid of moles is not always necessary, as they do NOT eat plants. However, their tunnels can be a problem as they push up mounds of earth and often harm the root systems of growing plants. In addition, there are few natural predators of this burrowing mammal because of their subterranean habits and musky odor. Snakes, owls, and fox are probably their biggest threat.
Moles are a small (7 inches long, including tail), usually gray or brown mammal, that can be distinguished from meadow voles, gophers, and shrews by their naked, pointed nose. They have small eyes and ears, which are concealed by fur and large spade-like front feet that serve them well for digging. The Eastern Mole is a big eater and can consume 70-80% of its own body weight in insects every day!
Note: If you can tolerate their burrows, moles will eliminate many insects while aerating your soil.
Moles live a solitary life, only tolerating others during mating season. Breeding takes place during the spring between early February and late March depending on your locale. After a 4-6 week pregnancy, the single litter is born usually consisting of 3-5 hairless pups. By mid summer, the young are able to care for themselves. Females reach sexual maturity the following growing season.
How to Control
Many natural remedies are available to home gardeners, but nothing is absolutely foolproof. Here are a few suggestions:
- Trapping. The most effective and reliable method for controlling nuisance moles! Traps should be placed in early spring when tunnels are first noticed, or after the first fall rains. Determine which tunnels are active before setting traps. These can be located by flattening the run, marking the location, and checking to see if the tunnel is raised within a day or two. Traps work well because they capitalize on the mole’s natural instinct to clear an obstructed tunnel.
- Eliminate Grubs. In lawns moles feed heavily on soil dwelling insects, including Japanese beetle grubs. Milky Spore and/or beneficial nematodes can be used to eliminate these pests and will generally decrease tunneling or feeding activity. However, if your soil is healthy, moles may still feed on earthworms after the grubs are gone.
- Repellents. Natural castor oil repellents work well to keep burrowing animals from lawns, gardens and other planting areas. Apply when tunnels or cone shaped mounds appear in soil from early spring to late fall.
- Barriers. Dig a trench roughly 6 inches wide and two feet deep. Fill it with rock or line it with wire to prevent burrowing pests from invading garden areas.
- Ultrasonic Devices. The Sonic Mole Chaser doesn’t play music, but instead produces a penetrating underground sonic pulse that drives underground rodents crazy. Pets won’t be affected but moles find the noise irritating and move to quieter surroundings. Kind of like playing “Heavy Metal” for your grandmother who loves Lawrence Welk.
Tip: Don’t bother with common home remedies such as repellent plants, chewing gum, mothballs, broken bottles, flooding and laxatives placed in their burrows – studies have shown that these substances are ignored.
Signs of moles in the yard
Moles live underground, and the majority of their subterranean excavation typically goes unseen. But, as moles dig tunnels in their hunt for food, the soil they remove from the channels gets pushed out into surface piles. Signs of moles in the yard can also include slightly raised, underground ridges going from soil pile to soil pile.
Mole lawn damage is typically most evident in the spring and early summer, and then again in the fall. This is when the animals are closest to the surface. During the summer months, their excavation is often at a deeper level.
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It’s important to distinguish moles from voles because the damage the two cause is very different. While moles leave mounds and raised ridges of soil in the lawn, signs of voles include well-worn traveling paths on top of the lawn, bark nibbled off the base of trees, and eaten tubers, bulbs, and roots.
Unlike moles, voles do not leave mounds of soil behind, but there are often quarter-sized burrow entrances throughout the area. Voles are mouse-like creatures with an elongated snout. They’re active above ground both day and night, and their presence is most often noted in early spring when the snow melts and their worn-down travelling paths and burrow openings are exposed. Voles typically live in a large colony with dozens of animals while moles are solitary. This is another important fact to remember when figuring out how to get rid of moles in your yard. Yes, one mole can create quite a few soil mounds, but that one small animal is a whole lot easier to control than dozens of voles.
What do moles eat?
Moles and voles differ in their feeding habits as well. While voles eat plant material and can be very destructive in the garden, moles have an entirely different diet. Moles are insectivores. Their diet consists of grubs, worms, and other subterranean insects.
A big step in knowing how to get rid of moles is understanding their diet. One old-wives tale that continues to live on is the suggestion of sticking a half-chewed piece of chewing gum into mole hills so the animal will eat it and choke. This is completely ineffective because moles only eat insects. A piece of chewing gum would simply get pushed out of their way as they go about digging their tunnels in search of real food.
What do moles look like?
There are 7 species of moles in North America. Moles are six to eight inches long and shaped like a sausage. They have dark brown to black fur and outward-facing, large front claws perfectly suited to digging. Their nose is elongated and pink, making them fairly distinctive looking, should you ever happen to catch a glimpse of this underground animal.
Bromethalin is the neurotoxin most often used in mole baits. Like common mouse poisons, it’s also toxic to pets and other wildlife. Mole baits infused with bromethalin are often shaped like earthworms or grubs in an attempt to trick the mole into thinking they’re a food source. Mole baits like TomCat earthworms and TomCat grubs are inserted down into active mole tunnels or mole hills where the mole is likely to encounter them. Once consumed, the bait kills the mole within two days. Keep in mind that poisoning moles and other wild animals is illegal in several states so you’ll want to do your research before using this method.
Are a few soil mounds in your lawn really worth the fight?
As you can see, it can take a good bit of effort to control moles in the yard, but it’s definitely doable if you’re willing to dedicate the time and money to do so. Some gardeners prefer to just look the other way and try their best to remember that moles help aerate the lawn and control several different turf grass pests. For those gardeners, moles are nothing more than an occasional nuisance. Whether you see moles as friends or foes is up to you.
For more on animals and insects in the landscape, be sure to read the following articles:How to manage deer in the gardenGuide to vegetable garden pestsBuilding a wildlife-friendly garden5 facts about ladybugs you don’t know
Have you faced mole damage in your yard? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.
How to Get Rid of Moles & Voles
1. Plug in Solar Mole RepellersSolar mole repellers chase away moles and voles by emitting low-frequency sonic pulses into the ground. This makes it unbearable for underground rodents like moles and voles.
2. Set up a Peanut Butter Cage TrapGet a cage trap that has sensitive triggers and smear peanut butter near the inside end of the trap. You can also apply some on the trigger.
3. Remove their Food SourcesThese rodents are hanging around in your backyard because there is a decent supply of food. Identify the grubs they are feeding on and find ways to repel the insects.
4. Get a Black Hole TrapThe black hole trap shows no mercy against burrowing animals like moles and voles. Dig up a fresh mole mound or tunnel and install the black hole trap.
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Last Modified on 26/11/2018 | Author: Sam Choan
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How to get rid of moles in your yard – Why your traps might not work
There are a few reasons why your traps might not work when you try and get rid of moles on your own. One reason that many people fail to trap moles is that they are placing the traps in the wrong spots in their yards. Another reason that putting out your own traps can fail is that you aren’t putting out enough traps. This can get expensive if you don’t know what you are doing and can also waste a lot of time getting no results.
This is a great reason to hire a pest control professional if you want an easier solution for how to get rid of moles in your yard. A pest control service professional, like the experts at Rove Pest Control, would be able to capture the moles or perform a burrow treatment that would solve the issue much faster and effectively than you trying to do it on your own. So if you are in the greater Minnesota area and are looking for an effective way how to get rid of moles in your yard, be sure to reach out to us at Rove Pest Control for a free consultation.
For some more interesting mole facts be sure to check out our page here!
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