5 SAFE and effective remedies to get rid of moles in your yard — without using toxic baits and gases!
There are six species of moles living in North America where by far the most common yard and garden pest is the Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus). Classified as insectivores, they tunnel year round in their below-ground network (often using each tunnel only once) searching for earthworms, larvae (grubs) and other insects on which they feed.
Getting rid of moles is not always necessary, as they do NOT eat plants. However, their tunnels can be a problem as they push up mounds of earth and often harm the root systems of growing plants. In addition, there are few natural predators of this burrowing mammal because of their subterranean habits and musky odor. Snakes, owls, and fox are probably their biggest threat.
Moles are a small (7 inches long, including tail), usually gray or brown mammal, that can be distinguished from meadow voles, gophers, and shrews by their naked, pointed nose. They have small eyes and ears, which are concealed by fur and large spade-like front feet that serve them well for digging. The Eastern Mole is a big eater and can consume 70-80% of its own body weight in insects every day!
Note: If you can tolerate their burrows, moles will eliminate many insects while aerating your soil.
Moles live a solitary life, only tolerating others during mating season. Breeding takes place during the spring between early February and late March depending on your locale. After a 4-6 week pregnancy, the single litter is born usually consisting of 3-5 hairless pups. By mid summer, the young are able to care for themselves. Females reach sexual maturity the following growing season.
How to Control
Many natural remedies are available to home gardeners, but nothing is absolutely foolproof. Here are a few suggestions:
- Trapping. The most effective and reliable method for controlling nuisance moles! Traps should be placed in early spring when tunnels are first noticed, or after the first fall rains. Determine which tunnels are active before setting traps. These can be located by flattening the run, marking the location, and checking to see if the tunnel is raised within a day or two. Traps work well because they capitalize on the mole’s natural instinct to clear an obstructed tunnel.
- Eliminate Grubs. In lawns moles feed heavily on soil dwelling insects, including Japanese beetle grubs. Milky Spore and/or beneficial nematodes can be used to eliminate these pests and will generally decrease tunneling or feeding activity. However, if your soil is healthy, moles may still feed on earthworms after the grubs are gone.
- Repellents. Natural castor oil repellents work well to keep burrowing animals from lawns, gardens and other planting areas. Apply when tunnels or cone shaped mounds appear in soil from early spring to late fall.
- Barriers. Dig a trench roughly 6 inches wide and two feet deep. Fill it with rock or line it with wire to prevent burrowing pests from invading garden areas.
- Ultrasonic Devices. The Sonic Mole Chaser doesn’t play music, but instead produces a penetrating underground sonic pulse that drives underground rodents crazy. Pets won’t be affected but moles find the noise irritating and move to quieter surroundings. Kind of like playing “Heavy Metal” for your grandmother who loves Lawrence Welk.
Tip: Don’t bother with common home remedies such as repellent plants, chewing gum, mothballs, broken bottles, flooding and laxatives placed in their burrows – studies have shown that these substances are ignored.
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