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MoleThere are several types of moles in the United States, but two, the Eastern mole and the starnosed mole, are the ones that cause the most damage for homeowners. Moles are about the size of a chipmunk and weight between 3 — 6 ounces. Although their damage seems to come and go, they usually stay in one location year round. As the weather cools, they go deeper in the ground and sometimes go into a modified hibernatation period during extreme cold, so their damage is less apparent. In some aspects they are very similar to gophers.

Moles will move nearer to the surface as the insects they seek migrate also migrate to the surface. This is when you're more likely to see damage in your lawn. Long burrowing tunnels crisscrossing your lawn certainly aren't attractive and when their tunnels approach the surface of the soil, they usually chew through the roots of a lawn causing it to yellow and die.

The reason the little miners are digging their way through your lawn is that they are looking for food and finding it. These critters typically enjoy feasting on insects, with grubs and worms being at the top of the list. You can almost count on finding grubs in your lawn if you have moles. Moles are thought to damage roots and tubers by feeding on them, but rodents usually are to blame. Scientists have determined moles eat anywhere from 50% — 100% of their body weight each day depending on temperature and other climate conditions.

The easiest way to get rid of them is to get rid of the grubs. However, this is no guarantee. Moles also enjoy earthworms and a soil favorable to earthworms, is also easy for the moles to dig through. This is particularly true in garden areas where the soil is normally very loamy— ideal for worms and ideal to dig in.

The only proven way to rid your lawn of moles is traps. Chewing gum, flooding, gassing, noise or vibration makers, spraying for grubs and other methods to rid your lawn of moles do not work. Moles often leave active areas. You still hear other methods touted as successful, but that is because the mole has moved on. The only proven method is traps.

Mole-inatorThe “Easy-Set” Mole Eliminator is the most effective mole control device available. The Mole Eliminator is available from Back to Nature

Trapping moles

That leaves the only reliable method, which is trapping. The best time for trapping is early spring, about the same time as the forsythia blooms. This is normally before they breed, so getting rid of one mole then, is the same as getting rid of 7. Consult with a nursery for availability of and instructions on using traps. To avoid potential injury, never remove a mole trap from the ground unless it is disarmed.

Setting a Mole TrapBefore initiating a control program for moles, be sure that they are what is causing the damage. Moles play an important role in soil management and grub control. Moles work in the top soil and sub-soil. Only a part of this work is visible from the surface. Mole tunneling permits better aeration of the top soil and sub-soil, carrying humus farther down and bringing the subsoil nearer the surface.

Additional mole facts:

  • Moles can tunnel at 15' — 18' per hour in un-excavated ground

  • They can travel up to 80' per minute through existing runs

  • Moles are carnivorous predators, killing and eathing other animals, insects and their larvae. Earthworms are their favorite meal.

  • Moles have very poor eyesite, but very sensitive touch. They can detect the motion of an earthworm.

  • They do not eat roots, tubers, or bulbs, but are often blamed for this damage, usually because other critters such as gophers will occupy abandoned mole runs.

  • When the soil dries out in the summer months, they burrow deeper and push out the diggings as loose soil piles producing the classic molehill.

  • The moles have only a few natural enemies because of their secluded life underground. Coyotes, dogs, badgers, and skunks dig out a few of them, and occasionally a cat, hawk, or owl surprises one above ground.