Mole Control — Kill Them Critters Dead

March 3, 2013 | By | Comments (7)

This friendly gopher prepares to eat your face. Smile! Photo: sf baywalk.

From the looks of Grumpy’s mail, Groundhog Day ought to be renamed Mole & Gopher Day. These animal agents of Satan aren’t waiting for spring to start tunneling through lawns and gardens and turning them into sponge cake. They’re partying now. So how can you, the average outraged homeowner, deal with them?

Mole or Gopher?
The first thing you need to figure out is whether the problem is caused by a mole or gopher. The signs of these pests are similar — winding tunnel-shaped mounds of dirt pushed up to the surface of lawns and gardens that collapse when you step on them. But there are important differences.

A mole is about the size of a mouse with dark, silky fur (heard of mole skin?), large front paws for digging, and an elongated snout. It eats earthworms and grubs (not plants or roots) and is not a rodent. A gopher, on the other hand, is a squirrel-size rodent with large claws on the front feet, enormous front teeth for gnawing, and pouches on the sides of its mouth for storing food. Gophers eat roots and plants and can wipe out a garden. All things being equal, you’re much better off having moles than gophers.

Don’t think that just because your yard is crisscrossed with mounded tunnels that you’ve been invaded by a mole or gopher army. These critters are lone gunmen — they work solo. But their voracious appetites mean they’re constantly foraging, so one critter can dig a lot of tunnels.

What To Do — Control With Extreme Prejudice
First of all, forget about using poisons and repellents. In Grumpy’s experience, they just don’t work. They’re wimpy, oooh-I-don’t-want-to-see-it-happen solutions, anyway. And nuking the lawn insecticides to kill grubs is a bad idea. They could kill earthworms too and earthworms are GOOD for lawns and gardens, remember?

No, what you need is one of three manly-man solutions.

Solution #1 — A mole or gopher trap. You can get one at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or online from Gopher Goner and Cinch Traps.

You place the trap at a strategic point above an active tunnel. When the critter bumps into it, it executes him with extreme prejudice. How can you tell if a tunnel is active? Well, locate a straight section of tunnel and use your foot to collapse it in one small spot. Then wait a day or two, come back, and inspect the spot. If the collapse is repaired, you have an active tunnel. That’s where you place your trap.

Solution #2 is very effective, yet extreme. So I don’t recommend for residential neighborhoods where folks frown upon explosions next door. Take a look at this news feature from Oklahoma TV.

I know what your thinking — that was awesome!!! (Video posted by Frisco2005.)

Solution #3 — turn annoying critters into a delicious meal! Ever wonder what mole sauce really is? Grumpy did too, until he discovered this demonstration on the internet.

Mole sauce

Mole sauce. Now that’s good eatin’! Photo: Olivier Bruchez.

Wow, that looks delicious. If I had to guess, I’d say the foundation for this dish is a good Madeira wine. And free-range, organic moles, of course.


  1. Steve Bender

    Voles are mainly a problem for shrubs and flower beds. They don’t mess with the lawn. If you have tunnels in the lawn, it’s probably moles.

    March 29, 2013 at 10:04 am
  2. Tina Ciner

    Yikes, now I’m wondering if we have VOLES?! Do you think the traps work for them too? They are making a mess of my lawn and garden. I am not looking forward to the spring and the war I’ll be involved in.

    March 19, 2013 at 7:22 am
  3. Steve Bender

    Voles ARE worse. I’d give the dachshund a try.

    March 7, 2013 at 10:24 am
  4. NCGardener

    We had a vole-hunting dog. She managed to catch three of them in one summer, and proudly brought them to show us. Being a soft-mouthed retriever, they were fully intact when she dropped them on the patio… She caught another the next year, then we moved.

    Think a dachshund would work on gophers? They were bred for badgers but might adapt…

    March 6, 2013 at 9:27 am
  5. Mountain or Mole Hill? What’s Your Preference? | achievinghappinessdotnet

    […] Mole Control – Kill Them Critters Dead ( […]

    March 4, 2013 at 10:11 am
  6. arielboswell

    Haha. Poor little moles. Mole sauce is great though…

    March 4, 2013 at 8:20 am
  7. Arthur in the Garden!

    Voles are a bigger problem as they will eat the roots and stems of plants. Moles just dig everywhere!

    March 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm

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