Mole Control

How to Get Rid of Moles in the Lawn & Garden

There are several repellents, baits and home remedies touted as effective mole control but the results are usually weak and inconsistent. The only surefire way to get rid of moles is eradication – physical removal of the problem animal. Physical removal can be accomplished by trapping – with live or kill traps – or catching the critter by hand.

Mole Control: picture of a ground mole

PLEASE NOTE: Check with local and state laws before trapping or using poison baits for mole control. Some states require permits or it may be illegal to trap or use poison baits to kill animals. Catching, transporting and releasing wild animals is also illegal in some states.

Facts About Moles

  1. Moles are not rodents, they are insectivores (they eat insects). They eat earthworms, snails, slugs, grubs and other soil insects – they do not feed on plant roots, bark or foliage. Mice, voles, gophers and ground squirrels are rodents that feed on vegetation.
  2. Moles are small critters, between 4 to 8 inches long from nose to tail. They spend the majority of their lives underground tunneling.
  3. There are seven species in North America: 3 species east of the Rockies include the Eastern (Scalopus aquaticus), star-nosed (Condylura cristata), and hairy-tailed (Parascalops breweri) – The Eastern mole is the most common. The other 4 inhabit the West Coast and include Townsend (Scapanus townsendii), broad-footed (Scapanus latimanus), coast mole (Scapanus orarius) and shrew mole (Neurotrichus gibbsii).
  4. In nature, they are very beneficial animals because they eat white grubs and other insects that damage lawns and garden plants. Their tunneling activity also improves the soil by mixing and aerating. They are only a problem when out of place – doing damage to lawns and gardens.
  5. Most of their life is spent in complex underground tunnel systems. They have two types of tunnels – main runs and feeder tunnels. The foraging or “feeder” tunnels are often used just once. Useful control note: they have a habit of quickly repairing damaged runways (tunnels that they use a lot).
  6. Cool Fact: Moles have an extremely high hemoglobin level in their blood allowing them to live underground in areas with little oxygen.
  7. Mole activity shows up as surface tunnels or mounds of dirt. Mounds often mark deep runs or nesting areas.
  8. Number of mounds does not equal the number of moles, just one can do a lot of damage. They are very territorial, live a secluded life and are only social when breeding. Populations are usually only one per acre but lush lawns and gardens can result in higher populations. Six moles per acre is considered a very high population.
  9. They are most active in the early morning and late evening hours.
  10. Moles will often move into tunnel systems that have been vacated. That is why it is very important to remove them before they before they create a tunnel system. Voles, mice and chipmunks will also use vacated tunnels.
  11. They love moist sandy loam soils found in lawns, gardens, golf courses, pastures and woodlands – where digging is easy.
  12. They are active all year and do not hibernate, they just tunnel deeper underground in the winter.
  13. One mole can dig up to 150 feet of new tunnels each day hunting food.

Xzoysia grass growing range
Mole Control: A picture of a mole emerging from the ground.

Mole Control Starts by Identifying the Pest or Cause of Damage

Are moles causing the damage or is it another pest?

Mole damage in lawns and gardens is often confused with gophers, voles or ground squirrels. It is important to identify the animal causing the problem because control techniques are different for each.

Moles damage lawns and gardens as they tunnel and push up mounds of dirt. Although they do not eat plants or plant parts, their digging disturbs the roots of trees, shrubs and other garden plants causing them to die.

Lawn Mole Control, Mole Hills

Gimmicks, Gadgets and Old Wives’ Tales

There are several mole control products and home remedies but none deliver consistent results.

Common repellents, home remedies, and gizmos are listed below in the order of Will Never Work to Worth Giving a Try if you don’t want to (or can’t) trap.

Silly Ideas and Gizmos that Don’t Work

  1. Chewing Gum
  2. Human Hair
  3. Crushed Glass
  4. Sonic Noise Makers and Solar Repellents
  5. Baits and Poisons that are labeled for rodents (moles eat insects, not grains)
  6. Car Exhaust
  7. Smoke Bombs
  8. Flares

Repellents Work for Limited Time and Require Repeated Applications

  1. Blood Meal, Cayenne Pepper, Castor Oil

Extreme Mole Control Methods

  1. Sitting in a lawn chair with a shotgun
  2. Liquid propane gas bombs

Limited Results but Not Environmentally Friendly

  1. Poison Baits – some baits will work if you can get the mole to eat it.
  2. Killing their food by applying insecticides to your lawn.

Worth Trying if You Don’t Want to Trap

  1. Underground barriers (mole fences) – not very practical but work.
  2. Dogs and Cats – some pets are good at catching moles but most are inconsistent.
  3. Manually catching them.

Mole Control, Traps Work

What Works? Mole Traps

Trapping is the best and most efficient way to solve a mole problem. There is a learning curve and it takes a lot of patience and persistence. Many homeowners fail to catch moles with their traps and give up. The key to successful trapping is setting the traps properly.

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