Lawn Moles are tiny rodents that have always been known to live in underground furrows or channels especially in our lawns and gardens. In size, they are just about the size of a chipmunk which is usually about 8 inches in length and weighs about 80 to 160 grams or thereabouts. The most obvious of lawn mole infestations in the ground are small mountains or lumps of soil that are formed by these moles as they burrow and fashion tunnels below the ground.
It is believed that moles feed on the roots of plants and grass but the truth is that moles feed on insects which make them insectivores. Experts believe that one lawn mole is capable of feeding on more than a hundred and fifty insects every single day with their favorite insects being earthworms and grubs. Moles can therefore be quite beneficial to a farmer seeing that they will help in eradicating insects that are destructive like beetles, millipedes and snails.
In spite of this, moles can be destructive themselves because their tunnels usually separate the roots of the plants from the soil. However, this very same action can improve the soil by airing the soil and helping in the mixing of nutrients in the soil. Whether they come with benefits or not, moles are considered as trouble by most people and permanent solutions to get rid of them are still being sought. This is because, new moles will usually move in as soon as the others are moved out.
Lawn moles have a tendency to dwell deep into the soil where it would be difficult to spot their tunnels. In spite if this, when a lawn is overwatered, the insects that feed the moles tend to move closer to the earth’s surface which leaves the moles no other choice but to move closer too. Watering the lawn appropriately therefore becomes a way to keep the moles further down where they can be of more benefit to the soil.
Before ridding your lawn of moles, it is important to first make sure that the pests in your lawn are indeed moles because moles are not the only animals that create runways in lawns and gardens. The vole and the pocket gopher are also responsible for such behavior and it therefore becomes very easy to confuse their behavior with that one of moles. This is because all garden pests will rarely make a daytime appearance and will only leave their destruction as a sign of their presence. The truth is that not many people have had the pleasure of coming face to face with a mole and those who have can never tell the difference between a mole and a vole.
In spite of this, it is only by being pretty sure of the presence of moles in your lawn that you can take proper steps to eradicate or drive them away. Moles will make mounds that will resemble a volcano slightly while a pocket gopher will make a slightly different mound that may resemble a horse shoe. Voles on the other hand will never leave a single mound behind, what they will leave behind instead is a well-defined runway that is clearly visible and very near the surface and is two inches wide or so.
Voles feed on grass blades which is why the runways are formed in the first place. Voles will also burrow straight into the root system of shrubs and trees which will cause the trees and shrubs that are generally young to start leaning. Voles are also capable of gnawing on the trunk of a tree or the bottom of a shrub.
Unlike moles which will only feed on insects, voles will feed on flower bulbs and potatoes damaging them in the process. Nonetheless, the favorite dish of voles remains the blades and stems of lawn grass. This results in the ugly runways on lawns.
A vole infestation is likely to occur where lawns have a lot of vegetation and growths that enable the voles to hide under and build nests in. Keeping your lawn weeded and getting rid of ground cover that is dense such as creeping junipers can help controls the voles. Mowing your lawn regularly will help keep voles away too which also happens to be the only way to control all lawn pests in the first place according to Integrated Pest Management.
Voles will not only hide behind dense vegetation, they will also hide beneath trees and shrubs so that they can gnaw at them and a deep layer of mulch around the trees and shrubs will only provide an excellent hiding place. Snow will also provide excellent hiding places for the voles and it is therefore wise to clear any snow away from your shrubs and trees.
Younger trees can be protected from these voles by wrapping their lower trunks with wire mesh. If however the voles have already infested your lawn, eradication or repelling them becomes the only option. This can be done by the use of traps, poisons, garden fences where the voles get frustrated and driven away. There are other vole repellent strategies out there that are humane and inhumane as well.
Getting Rid Of Lawn Moles- The Humane Way
The truth is that there are endless ways to get rid of lawn moles and some of these ways include getting rid of them the humane way. Seeing that moles can be destructive while at the same time be helpful, it would be better to come up with ways encourage them to be beneficial rather than destructive.
Generally, the most obvious ways of ridding your lawn of moles would be the use of chemical poison. While it is true that these chemicals might eradicate your lawn moles, they can also be poisonous to your soil and even to your entire household including children and pets. It is for this reason that most people choose to keep away from these chemical poisons and opt for means that are more natural. Other than that, chemical poisons are turning quite ineffective at mole eradication lately.
Mole traps are another popular means of mole eradication that can also be described as inhumane. These traps are readily available at all hardware stores and are set by digging up a hole into your soil. This hole is dug by totally guessing at the possible way that a mole may come passing through. Trapping a mole therefore becomes a very difficult undertaking and when you do manage to kill one, the corpse will only serve to pull in even a bigger pest into your lawn or garden.
Discussed below are some humane ways that have been very effective in discouraging the moles from coming closer to the earth’s surface:
Effective and Humane Mole repellents – mole barriers that can be made from aluminum and other hardware materials can be positioned 2 to 3 feet underground to bar the moles from tunneling or excavating around. When these barriers are raised further above the ground by around six inches, they will keep the moles from jumping or crawling over them. The good thing about using this method is that it can be very effective when used within small areas like lawns.
Cat litter or waste – that cats and moles are natural enemies is a widespread fact. It is therefore quite logical to spread cat litter and waste all over the molehills and runs. Moles are very good at scent-detecting and will therefore pick the scent of their natural enemy real quick encouraging them to run.
Castor oil – castor oil has been identified as a mole repellent for some time now. In spite of being a very effective mole repellent, castor will only drive them away and not harm them in any way. Proper application of this natural repellent is done by watering the lawn thoroughly before spraying the castor oil with a spraying device or mechanism. A spraying mechanism can be improvised from a pesticide or fertilizer container. After the spraying, watering should be done soon after to drive the oil further into the soil. The oil should stay inside your soil for as long as there is no rain or another watering. Should the procedure seem ineffective, a repeat of this process will generate better results.
Human hair – this trick may seem quite funny but is also effective once you understand that moles hate human scents and more so the feel of human hair. A good trick would be to visit a barber shop for some human hair, stuff them inside the hills and wait for the effect.
Eliminate their food sources – no mole will withstand hunger and when there is nothing to feed from, all the moles in your lawn will have no choice but to pack and leave. On the other hand, when then the moles have plenty to feed on, they will never be willing to vacate peacefully. When moles are present in your lawn, you can be sure that you are also harboring a couple of grubs. Grubs are harmful to plants since they feed off grass and plant roots that are soft and tender, moles on the other hand adore grubs. It is therefore wise to get rid of any grub in your lawn as these will make it less interesting for the moles.
To get rid of the grubs effectively, stop watering your lawn and use insecticide meant for grubs.
Plant chocolate lilies – other than cat scent and human hair, lawn moles can’t stand the smell produced by chocolate lilies. Plant them all over your lawn and the moles will soon find it impossible to live in your lawn. Another odor that the moles find sickening is garlic. The presence of these two plants in your yard is enough to send any mole packing.
Flooding the tunnels – flooding the tunnels will drive the moles away but not for long as the water is not likely to reach deep enough. This can be done by inserting your garden hose in the tunnels and turning the tap full blast.
Sound devices – there are electrical sound devices available in the market today that make vibrating noises that will scare the moles away. On my own property, about half of our four acres is wooded and the rest is landscaped. Unfortunately, the wooded area is home to much other welcome wildlife so elimination of the moles is an uphill hike. In the past, I tried killing them and that worked, except others simply moved in from the woods.
Of all the methods, I really advocate the sonic devices as when strategically placed, they keep the moles out of the landscaped areas and back in the woods where they are most welcome to stay! These come in two flavors: (1) Battery operated and (2) solar.
The battery operated versions are a bit of work as the batteries need replaced a couple times a year. However, these can be inserted into the ground with the cover flush with the surface so that a lawnmower can easily go over them. Be sure to remember where they are if you do this! I keep a hand drawn map of my yard so that I have a good idea of where to look when replacing batteries.
If the area allows for above surface protrusion, and there is sufficient sunlight, the solar operated versions are a no maintenance option other than needing to bring them in for winter in areas where the ground freezes.
How to Rid Your Lawn of Moles By Killing Them
We have already seen that there are humane ways of ridding your lawn of moles but the most effective way of doing this remains killing them. Before setting up plans to kill the moles in your lawn, it is wise to first consult with your local wildlife center. Some states will prohibit the use of chemical poisons and body-gripping traps.
The second step involves the tracing of the tunnels because it would be impossible to catch a mole without tracing its whereabouts. To do this effectively, identify an area that has several molehills and insert a strong stick to poke around this area. The area where the dirt breaks in is most likely the tunnel.
After identifying the tunnel, it is time to set your trap. Most traps are designed to choke or to stab the mole. To get the proper results, read the instructions over and over again so as to set the trap in the recommended way.
Drowning the moles may also kill them but this is not a very effective way to kill them.
Poisoning the moles is also a widespread way of eliminating lawn moles. The most popular mole poison is known as Talparid and it is fashioned to look exactly like earthworms. This poison will kill the moles in 24 hours and all that it calls for is to be placed inside the tunnels.
Gassing the moles is also a quick way to exterminate the moles in your lawn. The gases are poisonous and have to be applied severally for best results. Extra caution should be exercised especially where children and pets are involved.
Lawn Mole Ridding Methods That Will Not Work
The fact that moles have proved very difficult to control has resulted in the invention of mole eradication strategies that work and some that do not work. Some of the strategies that will never work include the following:
Juicy fruit gum – the inventors of this method claim that inserting juicy fruit gum inside the mole hole will send them packing. The truth is that many people have tried this without any positive results. The logic behind this strategy is that the mole chews the gum and blows a giant bubble suffocating in the process. This is really a funny strategy because the reality is that moles feed on living insects and it is not possible for them to chew gum while blowing bubbles in the process.
Baits – scientists at WSU have come to the conclusion that devices meant to scare the moles off do not work.
Euphorbia lathyris – euphorbia lathyris is a plant that is believed to repel the moles. This plant is five feet tall and produces a milky juice that is acidic and can burn the skin and damage the eyes. It is very dangerous and spreads around the lawn very fast once planted. It is believed that cutting the stems regularly and stuffing them inside the holes works but it is really dangerous to the entire household.
Brussel sprouts – stuffing the holes with brussel sprouts will never kill a single mole.
Mole Damage and Repair
The damages caused by lawn moles are not only extensive but very unattractive. Nothing can be as unattractive as a lawn that has been left for the moles to control. These moles will start damaging the roots of the grass in the lawn even as they continue to create ugly tunnels and mounds. Any sign of a mole in your lawn should call for immediate acting to minimize theses damages which will not only save money but time as well.
The first step in mole damage repair involves the checking of active tunnels. This will involve the collapsing of a tiny portion of the tunnel and checking it a day later. If you notice a fresh mound of soil, then it means that the moles are still alive and using it, it is therefore an active tunnel. Make sure that you have eliminated all the moles in your lawn before repairing any damage otherwise any remaining moles will continue with the destruction.
The next step involves the attaching of a lawn roller to the lawn mower. Move the lawn mower around the lawn carefully; the lawn roller will work by flattening all the abnormalities caused by the moles making them even or uniform. Make sure you pay close attention to the areas where the tunneling went through and more so where the individual mounds lie.
Any low spots should be topped with soil because it is possible that the lawn roller will cause minor depressions. Filling out these depressions will make drainage easier, make the lawn attractive and make it easier to mow.
Grass seeds should be applied to all bare spots including the newly topped-up areas.
For more information on one commercial solution we have tried, watch this lawn mole video.
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