Faithful reader Brandy Bumpus says moles fighting moles in her yard is turning into trench warfare. She begs Grumpy for advice on the best way to get rid of these tunneling terrorists. As always, the ever-generous Grump is delighted to help.
But first, let’s review the damage moles do versus a similar-sized rodent called a vole. Moles do not eat plants. They are carnivores that tunnel underground in search of their favorite food, earthworms, plus grubs and other bugs. The tops of their tunnels push up and soften the soil surface, making walking on the lawn feel like hopping across a sponge.
Voles, on the other hand, are primarily herbivores that eat the roots and stems of perennials, bulbs, and shrubs. Voles don’t tunnel long distances like moles, but may utilize mole tunnels if it’s convenient. They mainly scrounge around beneath mulch and leaf litter, where they can feed on plants while hidden from predators like cats.
OK, here are some common ways people try to eradicate moles.
Method #1 — Eliminate their food source.
How it works: You apply a granular lawn insecticide to kill the grubs that moles eat. Without any grubs under your lawn, the moles will destroy your neighbor’s lawn instead.
Grumpy’s verdict: A mole’s diet consists mainly of earthworms, remember? And you may not have any grubs to kill anyway. Using insecticide is usually ineffective. Sorry.
Method #2 — Poison bait.
How it works: You dig down into a mole tunnel and place poison bait in it.
Grumpy’s verdict: Hardly ever seen this work. Either the tunnel you put the bait into isn’t active or the dang mole just likes earthworms better.
Method #3 — Hungry cat.
How it works: I really shouldn’t have to explain this one to you.
Grumpy’s verdict: This can work IF (a) your cat is a good hunter; (b) your cat happens to detect a mole nearby during the 15 minutes per day he isn’t sleeping; (c) you don’t have too many moles.
Method #4 — Mole trap.
How it works: This steel, spring-loaded device is placed into an active tunnel. It then spears any unfortunate mole that trips it. To determine if a tunnel is active, mash down a 6-inch section of it with your foot. Check the spot the next day. If the damage is repaired, you have an active tunnel. Place the trap there according to instruction. This trap comes from Gempler’s.
Grumpy’s verdict: When properly deployed, traps work. Yes!!!
Method #5 — “Caddyshack” conflagration.
How it works: You inject a tankful of propane gas into the mole tunnels and ignite it like Bill Murray did in the movie, “Caddyshack.”
Grumpy’s verdict: This is undoubtedly the most fun, most exciting, most lethal, and most potentially catastrophic action you can take, seeing as how you stand a pretty good chance of not only blowing up your house, but all your neighbors’s houses too. So check with your homeowner’s association first. Also have a plan of escape.