Many people who enjoy spending time or gardening in their yard have worried about the possibility of a mole invasion. With subterranean tunnels and raised molehills covering your previously picturesque landscape, getting rid of a mole invasion is no small task and can take a real toll on your lawn or garden, aesthetically and structurally. Fortunately, some persistence, sound knowledge and a mole control specialist will help you get in control of these pesky pests.
What are Moles?
Moles are small carnivores, with a far range across North America, Asia, and Europe. They are insectivores to be exact. Moles eat a diet of earthworms, grubs, and undeveloped larvae- not your garden plants- and they actually belong to the same family as bats and shrews, some other common insectivores. They are around 5 to 10 inches long and are virtually blind. With very small eyes and no external ears, they can only detect light and dark. They are, however, very adept at tunnel living. They mostly live in underground burrows and have large flat front feet similar to flippers with long claws that make them expert diggers, almost swimming through the soil as they dig their underground worlds.
Moles make their living dens underneath structures, such as trees or buildings. These dens are chambers connected by burrows, and then connected to hunting grounds through more tunnels.
You can identify a mole sighting by their pointed noses, and shape reminiscent of an Idaho potato. They are most active at dawn and dusk in the spring and fall months, or after warm precipitation. However, because moles live primarily underground, you may never see a mole in the flesh. More likely you will notice the byproduct of their existence- those identifiable molehills which spell trouble. These hills, which look like raised volcanoes, are the entryway and exits for the moles, and they may also be accompanied by ridges indicating tunnels close to the surface. Other signs include dead or discolored patches of grass from root damage, or loose feeling areas of lawn where the ground has lost compaction.
Mole tunnels can provide some benefit to the natural ecosystem. They increase aeration and mix soil and therefore nutrients. This increases soil quality. Moles also eat up to 100% of their body weight in insects, therefore reducing the prevalence of these pests. Unfortunately, when a mole takes up a living in your backyard, rather than in a forest ecosystem, these benefits are outweighed by their harms. Moles can cause significant damage in these settings, though contrary to popular belief it is not because they eat plant roots. Their damage actually comes from their extensive tunnel system which causes harm to plant roots in lawns and raised beds. Moles dig to find their prey, so they are constantly digging new burrows, causing an ever-increasing amount of damage, not to mention unsightliness. Moles feed day and night- they can tunnel up to an astonishing 100 feet a day, creating a problem that quickly feels out of control.
These tunnels ruin landscaping and garden beds, and can also cause injury by leaving unexpected soft spots that create tripping hazards. If you’ve ever tripped on the empty space of a mole tunnel, you understand this hazard. These burrows may also invite other lawn pests into your yard. Voles, for example, are mouse-like creatures that live in shallow tunnel systems. For that reason, voles often re-use mole tunnels and chew up roots, tubers, and other plant parts, thereby increasing damage to your yard. Moles also thrive in soil rich in organic matter, so their presence may be an early indicator of a prevalence of other pests.
In addition, the moles themselves, like other rodents, can carry transmittable diseases, like rabies, or diseased fleas that can be transferred to a house pet. With all of these paths for potential damage, it is clear, these pests are no laughing matter.
How Do You Get Rid of Your Mole Problem?
There are many methods for mole removal, some more humane and some more effective than others. Before detailing methods, it is important to note that when you first notice a mole problem it is critical that you call an expert, as handling this problem early and effectively will ward off a more serious and more expensive problem further down the road.
One method for dealing with moles include creating barriers to create control. This can be done by creating trenches around areas you want to protect. This method only makes sense for protecting small areas such as vegetable gardens. To protect contained areas, you can also create a barrier through a wire screen. To do this you will line a bed with wire cloth, dug to a depth of at least 30 inches and raised 6 inches above the earth. Again, this is a labor-intensive task and so will only protect small areas.
In addition to barriers, a creative removal method includes vibration devices. For this method, devices that create noise or ultrasonic pulses are placed near the tunnels creating annoyance for the pests and causing them to move to other more hospitable homes.
Like most pests, moles also respond to pest products, primarily when products are used to kill off their food source. Ridding your garden of grubs will not only reduce the mole population, but it will also have other positive effects on garden plants.
There are some questionable methods you may find on the internet when searching for DIY mole removal methods. Some suggest that kitty litter at the mouth of a mole tunnel will repel the pests. Others swear chewing gum entices moles and then kills them. Since moles dig numerous tunnels a day, and eat insects, both of these methods seem suspect at best.
Many suggest that the most effective strategy for mole removal is trapping. Traps are to be placed so that they are triggered as moles travel in their tunnels. This requires some trial and error. Traps are most effective in the spring when moles are at their most active.
Again, do-it-yourself methods of traps or poisons, can cause harm to people and pets if done without knowledge. It is always advised one contacts an expert, as professionals will be able to tackle your problem with effectiveness and speed. In the long run, you will save time and money on useless methods, and you will be left with peace of mind and a restored landscape.