Saturday, April 10, 2010

Got Moles?

Moles are at the top of the list when it comes to “what critters bug gardeners most”. These homely little guys with very bad eyesight (they can distinguish night from day) create cities of tunnels under the yard.

These little “dirt tossers” or as I like to call them, underground aerators (gives them a more positive spin, don’t you think?) are actually after the earthworms, grubs and other insects under your yard - not plant roots as many folks think.

According to Wikipedia, which we all know is never wrong, moles paralyze their prey and store them in underground larders to be eaten in the form of live worm and grub sushi later…interesting, right?

Moles are insectivores not rodents. The boys are called boars and the girls sows (that would have never occurred to me either) and you will be happy to know they only produce 3 to 6 pups per year and may only have a 50% chance of survival. But no one really cares about proper names all gardeners want to know is how to get rid of the pesky varmints.

Interesting Mole Facts according to Ohio State Extension:
- Moles can dig surface tunnels at approximately 18 feet/hour.
- Moles travel through existing tunnels at about 80 feet/minute.
- Moles contain twice as much blood and twice as much hemoglobin as other mammals of similar size. This allows moles to breathe more easily in underground environments with low oxygen.
- A 5 ounce mole will consume 45-50 lbs of worms and insects each year.

Natural Measures of Control which probably never really get rid of moles but might discourage them or aggravate them for a short time. In fact sometimes moles may only stay for a short period of time and move on to better hunting grounds lulling you into a sense of a short lived victory (they usually return) but, these are just a few suggestions which might be worth a try.
1. Don’t over-irrigate the lawn as this may cause moles to tunnel closer to the surface.
Plant barriers such as daffodils, marigolds, alliums, garlic, mole plant and Castor beans. Castor beans are poisonous if ingested by people.

2. Mix up a batch of Castor Oil concentrate of 6 oz Castor Oil and 2 oz T Murphy’s Oil Soap or dish soap to 1 gallon of water. Add 1 T per gallon of water and spray on the lawn. Reapply after rain.

3. Find a comfortable chair and a garden fork and position yourself next to a new tunnel and wait for movement then jab or stab unsuspecting mole. My neighbor does this…who has this kind of time or patience????

Sure-Fire Methods of Control are usually worth the effort and aftermath if you really want to rid your yard and garden of these pesky pests. Remember prime hunting season for moles is early spring and fall.
1. Traps, not for the squeamish gardener but they definitely work. Instructions are included on the box when you buy them.

2. Cats. I know this because my neighbor’s cats leave dead moles on my doorstep. I’m thinking they do this as penitence for the fish they devour from my pond…I can only hope they catch the moles in my yard!

3. A Jack Rustle Terrier. Annie, our resident JR digs moles on a regular basis…sometimes I have to re-plant what she digs up with the mole but a small sacrifice. I have had offers to rent this mole killing machine but I don’t want the moles to get wind of it. Annie went on vacation once for 3 weeks while we were out of the country and the moles had quite a party. I came home to new tunnels and three drowned moles in the pool. Poor eyesight and short limbs (even if they look like paddles) are not a good combination for water hazards. I snapped this picture of Annie yesterday with my IPhone just before she ran under the porch to bury her newly dug treasure.

4. Liquid Fence Mole Repellent Worms seem to really work. Plus they are economical. Cut the rubber-like worms in half before inserting them in fresh tunnels (sorta like fishing without the bobber). The complete instructions are on the package.

5. Dynamite – oh wait, that’s illegal and oh yeah dangerous and messy. No need to get desperate, you can always call a mole catcher (yellow pages) to get rid of your mole population for you.

Moles obviously taste terrible because the cats give them away and Annie does a victory run around the yard then buries the critters only to dig them up later and roll in them (lovely scent).
However, moles were once trapped, skinned and sold to be used as powder puffs (according to my friend Diane and she knows a lot about pioneer living). Nice to know those rascally moles are good for something!


Dave said...

Good post! Usually I don't worry much about the moles since the tunnels can easily be pushed back down. The fact that they aerate the soil isn't bad either. What I don't like are voles which many people get mixed up with moles. Voles are a pure pest.

Cindy Shapton said...

Thanks Dave, I agree with you about voles - another interesting pest that I will rant on another time - pests who have names that rhyme are always confusing!!!

mole catcher said...

Not sure about the castor oil method it may just cause the mole to dig new tunnels. Trapping is the safest way to get rid of moles. Trapping can be tricky at first but a bit of research on how to set the traps should enable you to catch them.

Moira said...

How do I know if my "new pest" is either a mole or vole? I am so annoyed and have been loosing sleep over this pest! I have put peanut pelettes in every little trail they make....I need some help. Will spraying my lawn with caster oil help? PLE HELP ME!!!

Cindy Shapton said...

Hi Moria, Here is some info on moles and voles from my website maybe this will help you to identify the annoying critters. Then...

You could try "I must Garden vole and mole repellant" at
Or Liquid Fence has worms that you can place inside mole tunnels to get rid of the little beasts (if they are moles)
Traps work (for moles)but not for the faint of heart - I guess if you get mad enough traps might be fun :)
All the Best!!!

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get rid of moles said...

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