Moles tearing up your yard and garden? Fret not. Here are some pointers on identifying moles and ridding your grounds from them.
Moles. What Are They?
It’s good to start with this question, because voles will make a mess of your yard and garden, but they are different. In short, moles are ground dwellers. They are carnivores, so they prefer to eat insects rather than your plants and vegetables. That said, moles’ underground tunnels can really do a number on your lawn and garden. They can even make it easier for other animals to access your plants.
If you have a host of moles on your grounds, it could actually be a sign of another problem. Frankly, moles are most often found where the soil is loaded with organic matter. Soil pests are drawn to this type of soil. Subsequently, moles are drawn to those soil pests. In short, the presence of moles is often a red flag that your soil life situation is not ideal.
Are Those Really Garden Moles?
There is no way around it. Moles are wonderfully awkward looking creatures. You’d want to pet one if it wasn’t tearing your yard to pieces. They have really tiny eyes, fairly pointed muzzles, clawed paws/flippers (for digging), and they are kind of shaped like potatoes. When they move, it is actually with a swimming motion. They use those clawed flippers to open the soil in front of them as they traverse your lawn. Moles prefer soil that is loamy and moist, as it makes it easier for them to move. They tend to avoid warmer weather, and are most active early in the morning and evening in spring and autumn. They will also surface after a good, warm rain.
As mentioned, moles have pointed snouts. Those snouts are also hairless. They have tiny eyes and ear canals, which are difficult to see because of their fur. They don’t have external ears. Their forefeet are essentially digging mechanisms: broad, clawed, and webbed. Their hind feet are similar, just a little more narrow. Most pictures make them look bigger than they are, but they weigh about four pounds and measure about seven inches long.
As mentioned, moles are carnivores, so they dine on grubs, insects, and other soil organisms, which also happens to include the ones you want, such as earthworms. Voles, which are vegetarians, dig close to the surface. Moles, on the other hand, dig deeper in the soil. By deep, we mean 10 inches or deeper. On occasion, they will surface after a warm rain, as mentioned above, or if they think a mate is nearby. It’s pretty easy to spot mole tunnels. They look just like little mountains in your yard. That saying of making mountains out of molehills is very accurate. On occasion, you can spot surface tunnels, but they are more rare.
Some of the more popular fixes include spreading tobacco or dried blood on the ground. (Where you get blood for spreading on the ground is the subject for another post!) With these treatments, you will want to apply after each rain.
Sometimes, a deterrent can be as simple as a having a cat that strolls the yard and gardens.
Since moles are carnivores that feast on the grubs and insects in your yard, a solution might be to make the grubs and insects less tasty. Say, for instance, the grubs and insects tasted like castor oil. If that was the case, moles might look in someone else’s yard/grounds for food.
Here is a simple DIY solution to your mole problem. Create a mixture that is three parts castor oil and on part dish detergent. From that mix, use about four tablespoons mixed with a gallon of water to saturate all visible mole tunnels and mounds.
Another option is to submerge an ear of corn into roofing tar, then jam it into one or more of the mole tunnels. Rumor has it that the moles really don’t like the smell of that tar and this option can block some escape routes.
For something even simpler, adding a dash of red pepper around tunnels entrances may do the trick.
Coffee grounds on the soil might prevent tunneling. In addition, earthworms love coffee grounds. So, it’s a win-win.
This might sound like it is coming out of left field, but hear us out. Wind power. Using it to set up some ground vibrations can sometimes be enough to irritate the moles and drive them off. One simple wind-power solution can be to just driving children’s pinwheels in the ground across the lawn.
If you have tried these options and they are not working, you might be left with no other alternative than trapping. Sometimes, depending on the degree of the problem, moles leave you no option. Of course, we recommend a humane trap. You’d be best off letting the mole(s) go no less than five miles from your home. Ideally, you’ll want to do it in a rural area, so they aren’t becoming pests in someone else’s yard or garden.
First things first, pay attention to your soil. If you have plenty of grubs and bugs, you are practically inviting moles. You can try to spray your yard with milky spore disease or even beneficial nematodes. These will both get rid of grubs. Further, they will also remove the any Japanese beetle larvae from your yard, which is another benefit! If you have specific plants you want to protect, which is often the case, try digging a two-to-three-foot hole around the plant(s) and line the sides and bottom with of that hole with wire mesh. (Moles can’t make it through mesh.) Put your soil and plant in the hole. Granted, this is more of a preventive solution, but sometimes the best solutions are preventive. If you really want to try bulbs, you have to make what is, essentially, a cage of 1/2-inch mesh screening. Put the bulbs inside, with the root plate down, and then just sink the whole cage at the recommended depth for the bulb. The benefit of this approach is that rodents can’t get in, but the stems can grow through the cage.
We’ve covered a lot of ground here. (Just a little pun intended.) We’ve tried to offer you suggestions to take care of your mole problem yourself. Yes, it can seem like a lot of work. It can also seem like you’ll be spending your summer fighting moles. If you would like professional mole prevention services, we can certainly help. Just give E.P.M. a call at (517) 990-0110 today. We can work with you to get a plan set up right away.