Mole Control — What Works?

February 20, 2014 | By | Comments (24)
Moles

A face only a mother could love. Photo: Link576

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.

Ending Mole-station
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.

Moles

Photo: Mickey Thurman

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.

Moles

Photo: Gempler’s

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.

Moles

Photo: picturesdepot.com

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.

COMMENTS

  1. Chuck Bunyan (Babe’s Cousin)

    Doris, 05 Mar 2014

    I am happy you found it interesting; my goal is to inform and entertain.

    Another of my passions is Skunks (not the human kind) who are maligned due to misinformation about them. There are three times when a skunk will release its “perfume:”
    Due to a perceived threat; while mating; when it dies (not always with the latter).

    Thanks,

    Chuck “Mole” Bunyan

    March 5, 2014 at 4:40 pm
  2. Doris

    Well Mole, that was interesting!
    Doris

    March 5, 2014 at 4:26 pm
  3. Chuck Bunyan (Babe’s Cousin)

    David, 05 Mar 2014

    William III died of pneumonia, a supposed complication of the broken collarbone he suffered after falling from his horse. Rumor has it that his horse Sorrel stepped off William’s back porch onto a mole’s burrow causing Billy boy to fall from his trusty steed. I find it difficult to connect pneumonia with a broken collarbone.

    Been around moles all my long life, stepped into and on their burrows, tunnels, and hills without negative impact; it does help if one looks where one is going while walking about. As for your secretary, wouldn’t it have been more prudent of her to walk down the steps onto the sidewalk rather than stepping off the porch onto the mole tunnel?

    I agree that they can make a mess of a golf course but, since I rarely golf, I don’t find it a problem, I leave that to the course grounds keeper; they get paid big $$$ to keep the course pristine.

    As for the football field, who was in charge of maintaining it? And what about the coach, your brother? Did he/they inspect the field to insure it was safe before he/they sent the troops out onto it? A significant number of the high school football fields around here (Texas) have artificial turf, so moles are not a problem.

    How do I know what moles taste like? I have no firsthand knowledge of what they taste like; I just reported what I learned from my studies of the little guys. Your claim that they “carry all kinds of diseases” is not borne out by my research. If you want to know a species that carries all kinds of diseases just go into a room with a mirror and peer into it.

    You have made a lot of claims about the damage moles do but you failed to back those claims up with facts. The reality is, moles are beneficial and at the same time they can be annoying. If you chose to rid your land of their presence, so be it. Just be prepared for the onslaught of bugs in your little slice of heaven.

    As a final note, when William III succumbed to his injuries, a lot of folks toasted the little guys you want to eradicate. Enjoy your Mole-Zapper; if it malfunctions and you sustain an injury, don’t blame the moles.

    Babe’s cousin Chuck

    PS:

    Lighten Up

    By the way, when I was a kid one of my nicknames was Mole.

    March 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm
  4. Doris

    I will admit the paths in our raised garden are fertile and we have used the soil for other
    area at times replacing the soil with poor soil. Also not many Japanese beetles on
    Roses and Crepe Myrtles and other good food.they love.
    Doris

    March 5, 2014 at 8:54 am
  5. David

    Chuck,

    SHAME on you. You need to understand that moles are vermin that not only do millions and millions of dollars worth of damage to countless landscapes, golf courses, flower beds, cemeteries, etc. and carry all kinds of diseases, but are also the cause of a lot of human injuries. Imagine a High School Football playing field like my brothers teams where moles burrowed up the surface leaving your “aerated soil” and in the process injuring several kids!
    King William III of England died from injuries he suffered after his horse stepped in a molehill! Try explaining how much good the pesky little vermin are to my former secretary who stepped off the back step of her home in to a mole tunnel which resulted in a broken ankle! So I’ll continue to take out all of them I can with Mole-Zap and if you want I will send them to you for a snack. By the way, how do you know what moles taste like?

    David

    March 5, 2014 at 8:29 am
  6. Chuck Bunyan

    Tuesday – 04 March 2014

    Dear David,

    OK, the little moles that have been working so hard for you by ridding your yard of undesirable bugs and have been aerating and tilling your soil all the while improving its fertility… and you want to KILL them? SHAME on you.

    There are live traps that allow you to catch and relocate them without harm. They are there for a reason; when they have cleansed your yard of undesirable bugs they will leave on their own.

    Here in the Fort Worth / Dallas area, we have some of the poorest soil on the planet. During the summer our soil becomes almost as hard as concrete; when it does rain, the water runs off doing very little for the vegetation. If moles are burrowing in your yard, the rain water will be absorbed rapidly instead of running off. If you irrigate your lawn and garden and you have moles, you don’t need to water as often thereby reducing your water bill.

    For those of you that buy potting soil, save your money by using the soil from mole-hills; you cannot buy anything as good as what these little guys produce.

    By the way, moles are edible but taste horrible so don’t try eating them, and tell your cat(s) to leave them alone.

    Babe’s cousin Chuck

    March 4, 2014 at 5:41 pm
  7. David

    There is Finally a REAL Solution to moles! It is called Mole-Zap. This is a brand new product just launching this Spring. It REALLY WORKS and best of all it is ORGANIC (OMRI Listed)!
    Check it out at mole-zap.com or Amazon.com

    March 3, 2014 at 12:50 am
  8. Doris

    Cats can control Voles, mine did. Today I was in the garden and found a dead
    mole. First one I have seen in our garden after almost 30 years not sure what killed it.
    Not sure it that will solve the problem.

    March 2, 2014 at 5:58 pm
  9. Kay

    The only thing that works is a
    Welsh Terrier!!!or Welsh terror!!They can hear the moles and are relentless in digging them out.
    They also go after voles, Voles. have to be starved out. In other words, you have to stop planting for a long time and they will move on. They love loose soil and mulch.

    March 2, 2014 at 5:51 pm
  10. Paula skiles

    Ok now there is a solution to the voles it works for me. They make poison pellets for these varmints so I drop a few down the hole and now my hostas can live and get bigger.

    March 2, 2014 at 9:34 am
  11. Steve Bender

    Doris is right. Mothballs don’t work.

    February 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm
  12. Doris

    Understand from the past mothballs don’t work!

    February 25, 2014 at 8:06 pm
  13. Ed Whitten

    Mr. Ed
    Any one tried moth balls in the tunnels?

    February 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm
  14. Patsy

    I rather enjoyed your suggestions and found some to be both entertaining and funny! Thanks for the advice.

    February 24, 2014 at 5:32 pm
  15. Doris

    Hey Babe, I know the difference from Voles, they like my Hostas and many other roots.
    I guess adding more soil will be a good try. Thanks, if you come up with other solutions let me know.

    February 23, 2014 at 9:18 am
  16. Chuck Bunyan (Babe’s cousin)

    Dear Maxine:

    You do not have a Mole problem; you most likely have a Vole problem. See the top of Steve’s article:

    “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.”

    Here is a link to the Wikipedia article on Voles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vole

    Chuck Bunyan

    February 22, 2014 at 9:43 pm
  17. Maxine lewis

    They are eating all my nandino bushes. Last year they did the same 6 bushes. And all my tulips bulbs again this year. I have tried everything from chewing gum and chocolate to poison peanuts. Help!!!

    February 22, 2014 at 7:26 pm
  18. Doris

    Thanks, I don;t want to kill them. just want them out of the pathways, no room to walk in
    the garden. They a re not in the lawn in the front of the house.

    February 22, 2014 at 7:12 am
  19. Chuck Bunyan (Babe’s cousin)

    Do your moles a favor, trap them live and then send them to me if you don’t want them. Why do I want them? They are great eating… ONLY JOKING! They rid my yard of bugs and they aerate the soil, especially around my trees, which is good for the trees. Also by loosening the soil the tree’s roots receive oxygen and a lot more water during a rain (less runoff). They do a lot of good and the harm they do is miniscule compared to the good they do

    .
    Their tunnels are only a problem if you see them as a problem. They are a part of nature and are welcome here; if you ever get a chance to hold one you will see how beautiful they are and how nice their fur is. If you must remove them, please catch them live and relocate them, preferably to my yard.

    Moles are in your yard for one and only one reason: Food. Once they consume the food supply in your yard they will move on to your neighbors yard. Mole hills can easily be dealt with by using a shovel to skim them level with the lawn. Sprinkle the soil you collected around the yard. All the mole hill is, is excess soil the mole pushes up out of the tunnel. If you flatten it they will just push it up again.

    That’s my two cents worth.

    Chuck Bunyan (Babe’s cousin)

    February 22, 2014 at 12:14 am
  20. Jennifer

    Are there any methods that are successful other than the traps? We are looking for a solution that does not need to be monitored on a regular basis, as we are renting out our house while we are out of state. Any suggestions would be wonderful!

    February 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm
  21. Doris

    Well! I still don’t know how to get rid of the moles that are making the path way in my raised
    garden (beds). cats only want to try get my birds.

    February 21, 2014 at 3:26 pm
  22. Raven

    I am having a problem with moles entering the house and getting caught in my mouse traps baited with peanut butter.

    February 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm
  23. Merrissa

    Hahaha I’m also having this Mole problem right now. It never really bothered me until my dogs started digging craters in my yard. I’m so annoyed with this problem that I’m heavily considering Method #5. Thank you for the tips!!

    Merrissa

    February 20, 2014 at 10:33 am
  24. Amy Sitze

    Also, let’s put to bed the chewing gum myth, as recommended here and elsewhere, by people like extension agents who should know better: http://articles.philly.com/1999-02-01/news/25504262_1_moles-tunnels-secret-weapon. Moles are insectivores and would have no reason to be attracted to a fruity smell, first of all, and second of all, gum wouldn’t stick to their intestinal tract any more than it sticks to ours. This myth drives me crazy. The reason people think these crazy remedies work (“I put gum in their hole and they went away, therefore it was the gum that made them leave”) is that moles are foragers and go where the food is. Most likely, they were following the food source, which happened to coincide with the placement of the gum (or the many other crazy mole remedies people come up with) — it isn’t a cause-and-effect relationship.

    February 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

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