Cascio Company

262 Meadow Street Agawam, Massachusetts 01001 • Phone: (413) 789-0336 • Fax: (413) 786-0848

I have moles

  • Article provided from the Hort Notes, Volume 11, #13 - UMASS Extension - Randall Prostak

  • Moles are common inhabitants of well drained, loose soils of gardens, fields and turf areas. These chipmunk-size animals spend their entire life underground and are rarely seen by humans. Moles usually live alone, except for females with young, and populations rarely exceed three per acre. Moles have very strong, outward facing, forelimbs that are used to burrow through the soil. Their diet consists of grubs, insects and earthworms in the soil. They have healthy appetites and may consume 70 to 100 percent of their body weight daily. Moles do not feed on plant roots, tubers or bulbs, however, they are often blamed for the damage done by voles and mice that use their runways. As moles move through the soil in search of food, they create surface tunnels which appear as raised ridges of soil. Some considered these creatures to be beneficial because of their insect feeding behavior and ability to aerate the soil.

    Most turf damage occurs in the spring and fall when moles are actively searching for food near the surface. The combination of turfgrass root damage as a result of tunneling and low soil moisture may result in turf death. Ridges should be stepped on or rolled to prevent turf from drying out or being scalped during mowing. Mole activity may result in the loosening of soil and uprooting of ornamental or garden plants. Soil should be firmed around plants as soon as noticed. Many “home remedies” are readily offered for combating moles. One of the most popular suggests that a specific chewing gum causes lethal indigestion. This tactic, and others, including: the use of broken glass, razor blades, rose thorns, automobile exhaust, windmills and large volumes of water have little or no value in deterring moles. The effectiveness of gas fumigants and toxic baits is limited. Fumigants usually will not reach nesting burrows and moles do not take formulated baits. Electromagnetic, vibrational, or sound producing devices have not been proven effective. Castor oil or products containing it have shown favorable results in repelling moles. These products should be watered into the soil. It is often suggested that decreasing insect grub populations will stop mole activity. There is no guarantee that this tactic will be effective, since moles also feed on earthworms and other insects. The most effective method of controlling is trapping. Follow the directions supplied with your trap. Placing traps on active tunnels is the key to success. Tunnels that are pushed back after being stepped on or rolled are most likely active. Moles will repair a hole that is created in an active runway. Choose tunnels that run in straight lines or along a barrier such as a sidewall or driveway. Traps that are not successful in two or three days should be moved to a new location.