Moles — How to deal with garden moles in your garden

Mole in the garden — how to deal with it?

Moles — Controling moles in your garden and lawn

If you have ever had problems with moles you will be aware just how hard it is to control them. Arriving from almost thin air you wake up one morning to mole hills. It only takes a couple of days to turn your perfect lawn into a scene from the «battle of the Sohm». The gardenadvice team are often asked to advise on mole problems, this article is a summary of the advice.

Earthworms attract moles. Lawns are an ideal hunting ground the worms are near to the surface and the network of grass roots supports extensive tunnelling. Establishing a centre the mole or moles will work out digging several feeder tunnels. Once the basic network has been formed they sit back and wait. With an excellent scenic of smell and hearing they can detect a worm up to 5 metres away. As the worms work through the soil they drop into the moles tunnel and become another tasty meal.

Traditional solutions have included the control of the earthworms mainly because of the worm casts they create. However earthworms do a lot of good improving drainage, breaking down organic matter in the soil and help support health topsoil. By removing or controlling the worms you will control the moles however the price is high, as you will damage your soil.

Trapping is often the best method for young inexperienced moles. The normal type of trap has a scissors action which to be honest is somewhat barbaric. Working by being placed in the main run the mole trips the trap and kills itself. The key to trapping is to set the trap without introducing any foreign scents or smells.

To achieve this use old traps or buy new traps and bury them for a few weeks. Secondarily before you touch the traps or the mole run covers your hands in soil to hide your own scent. The traps should then be placed in the moles runs so that the trap sits just above the run base.

Once the trap is set make sure that no light can get into the mole run by adding turf or soil around the top of the trap. It all sounds very simple but the truth unless you are setting traps every day an have considerable experience you will more than likely fail. Its amazing to see your carefully set traps dug around, set off and them thrown out of the ground or just plain agrored. Once a mole as seen one trap and survived you can forget about using this method again, the mole seems never to forget.

Fumigating is another method often used, which involves finding the run then using a special mole smoke to fumigate the run. On the whole this is an effective method, however you are limited to how far the poisonous smoke will travel and also the moles can dig there way out of trouble. The smokes contain sulphur and can only be used when the weather is warm as in cold damp weather the smoke will not travel in the runs.

Baiting worms with poison is another method, which can be used. This is best carried our by a professional mole catcher as the poisons used are licensed and very dangerous to other animals and birds.

The GardenAdvice preferable method is to move the moles on into a more suitable area such as a meadow or out of the garden. This avoids embarrassment on our part as the moles inevitably show us up when we employ the other methods detailed earlier. We achieve this by using jeyes fluid which is a chemical that has been used for gardeners for over 50 years for a whole range of tasks including sterilising pots and soil, controlling moss and a whole host of other uses.

We simply find the run open the highest end up and using a watering can pour in a strong mix of jeyes fluid and water (1 ; 20 ) With the mole having a highly developed sense of smell it tends to drive them away from there current location. To make sure they are going in the right direction we also water a banned across the lawn or bed (using a diluted mix 1:40) to form a barrier against the mole moving in an undesired direction. Over about 10 days we continue this operation until the move has moved on or at least into a less damaging area.

How to Get Rid of Moles

How To Get Rid Of Moles — If you have a yard or garden that has a lovely flat green lawn, there are few pest animals that can be as easy to identify as a mole, as the indentations caused by the tunnels dug by the mole can be easily spotted on a lawn, while the appearance of small piles of dirt where the mole has come to the surface are also obvious.

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In terms of getting rid of the animals, because moles so rarely come to the surface, they are actually quite a difficult species to trap, and many of the normal methods used for dealing with pest animals don’t work with moles. Although moles don’t actually eat plants, they can cause damage to the plants to be found in a garden, so it is best to look for ways to get rid of the moles where possible.

Signs You Have A Mole Problem

The most common mistake that people will make when they are looking at damage in the garden is to find plants where the root has been gnawed, and as moles don’t eat plants in this way, gophers that do this are often mistaken for moles. Moles can usually be identified through their molehills, which are cones of soil which are generally uniform, as moles will almost always approach the surface vertically, as opposed to gophers that tend to make much more unusually shaped piles of dirt.

Another sign that the problem animal that is located beneath your lawn is a mole can be seen by the signs of tunnels in the area, which will show as a raised line of soil mixed with the grass. Being able to identify the animals can really help you to choose a method to deal with the problem.

Lethal Traps For Killing Moles

The most common type of lethal trap that is used to get rid of mole is the ‘scissor’ trap, and as the name suggests this type of trap works by being pushed beneath the surface into a mole tunnel, and when the mole triggers the trap, the blades kill the animal with the scissor motion. In some cases it is worth setting multiple traps, as most areas will have between three and seven active moles in the area at any one time.

Another type of lethal trap that can be used to deal with moles is the tube trap, and this tube is then placed into an active mole tunnel, and when the mole enters the tube it triggers the trap, causing a noose to tighten around the mole to kill it. A choker trap is similar to the tube trap, but as it doesn’t have the tube, placing the noose correctly for the trap to trigger can be a little more challenging. All of these traps can kill the mole, which is usually considered to be the most effective way to deal with the problem.

Like many other pest animals, there is a range of products available for those who are looking for a repellent. One of the most common types of repellent is the audio repellent, but as moles are underground animals, these devices have been adjusted to fit in a spike to try and drive the animals away.

There are also chemical products that can be inserted into the ground that are said to drive the moles away. The reality with mole repellents is that there is very little evidence to suggest that this will be successful, so it is best to look at other options as opposed to trying to use this kind of product.

The biggest problem that most people who want to deal with a mole problem by using poison will encounter is that the type of poisons that can be used are very limited. Moles only eat insects and worms, so using any kind of normal bait will not be consumed by the moles, so the only really successful option is to use a gas based poison. Talunex is such a poison that is strictly restricted and can only be used by trained operators, and is a pellet that becomes gas on contact with the moist soil, and then poisons the animals within a tunnel system.

Can You Trap Moles In A Cage?

Moles are a species that seem particularly difficult to deal with when they are causing a problem, and while repellents don’t work, and poison is very difficult to use, cage traps are also generally ineffective when it comes to dealing with the moles. In theory it would be possible to dig a hole within the tunnel of a mole, and then place a cage trap in it, but it would be very unlikely to be successful, as the soil could prevent the trigger from working, or the mole would simply turn around when encountered with this strange device within its tunnel.

Read also about how to How To Trap a Mole and general Mole Prevention. Read about the effectiveness of Mole Repellents and How to Kill a Mole. Read my Mole Prevention Tips and about the Different Types of Mole Traps and How to Use Them. Read about How to Get Rid of Moles and learn about Mole Hills and Mole Tunnels. Learn about Mole Repellents, Facts about the Mole, and what kind of Damage Moles Cause to a Lawn.

Get rid of moles? Not so fast

Are moles causing havoc in your garden? Three experts suggest ways to get rid of moles and put molehills to good use.

1. Use the molehill compost

Edible gardener Mark Diacono: These animals are impossibly cute so to get rid of moles is even more of an unsavoury undertaking than it might be. In any event, trying to get rid of moles may prove a futile, as well as an unpleasant exercise because they travel about using a network of semi-permanent tunnels deep underground. They dig shallower channels nearer to the surface when they search for food.

There is almost certainly another mole to take the place of any you kill, so learn to live with the occasional visitation if you can. Take advantage of the spoil of perfectly sifted topsoil they leave on the surface because makes a good base for potting compost. I simply add sand and perhaps a little coir or something similar.

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2. Try strong smells and noise

Biodynamic gardener Tom Petherick: Moles are fond of earthworms so fertile soil is therefore bound to attract the little furry creatures. Bonuses to having them include increased drainage, especially in a clay soil. Keep the soil from the mole hills so you can use it for potting on young plants.

Moles have an acute sense of smell, so the best way to get rid of moles is to put something down the tunnel that smells bad and is preferably biodegradable. With this in mind, I have had success with very old cheese and wisps of dried grass soaked in over-fermented yoghurt or sour milk. Likewise, noise is also not great for moles, so you could try a loud radio in the run. And finally you could ask them to go and live somewhere else. Simple but very effective, as long as it’s done with feeling.

3. Use mole traps

TV gardener and nurseryman Toby Buckland: I swear by the traditional mole traps but there are now humane traps available. You need to make sure you check these at least daily because moles feed regularly and will starve quickly. You also have the issue of where to release them.

Wash the chosen trap in soapy water to remove the scent of humans because moles are clever little animals and won’t go near anything that smells of humans. One of the old gardeners I knew recommended burying the trap for a fortnight in the soil to remove scent. Further, a farmer suggested disguising the scent with freshly mown grass.

Place the primed trap in the run, which often appears as raised tunnels between the hills. Bury the trap with grass. Finally, cover with a plant pot so pets and visitors don’t set it off. If you have a dog that digs you might wish to avoid traps altogether.

A mature adult mole won’t hang about when establishing its own tunnel network – it will dig at speeds of up to 4m per hour.

Are slugs wreaking havoc on your plants? Discover 9 ways to get rid of slugs here.

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How to Deal with Moles in Your Yard

We have tried every product we could find to get rid of moles in our yard – and just when I think I’ve solved the problem, they come back with a vengeance. What can I do? -Theresa

Just when you think you’ve gotten your yard to the pinnacle of neatness, here comes a pesky mole to turn your lawn into a superhighway!

Unfortunately, we gardeners are excellent mole-magnets: our tilling, mulching, and watering create a virtual paradise for these burrowing critters who love nothing more than a nice, moist, earthworm-rich hunting ground.

Here are some facts about our furry mole friends (or enemies)

(Photo courtesy of Gábor Palla)

  • Moles Are Insect Eaters: A typical 5-6 ounce mole can eat as much as 50 pounds of bugs and worms in a year. Among their diet: beetles, earthworms, and lawn-destroying grubs. If you can stand them, they’re excellent natural insectivores.Mole
  • Moles Are Loners: The average acre of land usually supports only 2-3 moles.
  • Moles Are Natural Aerators: Moles live and breed in deep runways and burrows underground, digging upward of 20 feet per hour! Their highway system branches off into surface runways for feeding; these are the telltale “molehills” you see in your yard. While the surface burrows can damage lawns, overall moles are beneficial by aerating, mixing, and loosening the soil.
  • Mole Damage: Contrary to popular opinion, moles don’t eat your plants. However, their surface tunnels can disturb plant roots, which can cause distress. In lawns, molehills make walking and mowing difficult and sometimes damages the grass. And, their tunnels can be hijacked by voles, little mice who DO eat plants.
  • Mole Habitat: Look for mole activity around fences, hedges, buildings, and near woods.
  • Moles Are Year-Round Pest: Moles are active year-round, but they’re particularly busy in spring and fall. During rainy periods, you’ll see more molehills as the earthworms move toward the surface.

Trapping can be effective against moles.

How to Eliminate Moles

Unfortunately, moles aren’t easily dealt with. Unless your yard is really showing damage, the best approach is to leave moles alone. They’ll usually move on once they’ve eliminated their food source. You can keep your lawn in shape by flattening the runways with your feet or a lawn roller, or by raking out the tunnels.

If you do have damage from moles, here are some tips on mole control:

  • Determine if Moles Are Active: To test mole activity in your yard, go out and stomp down the existing molehills. Then, watch each day to see if the mole pushes them back up again.
  • Forget Grub Control: The popular wisdom used to be, that to get rid of moles, you must get rid of grubs. That theory’s been pretty much disproven, since moles eat many other insects besides grubs, and if they can’t find food, they tunnel all the more.
  • Trapping Moles: If you really want to get rid of the moles in your yard, the only surefire way is to trap them. Follow trap directions exactly, because improper placement of the trap will doom your efforts! While you can’t control whether or not new moles will move in, trapping lets you know for sure that you’ve eliminated the ones you have. Before you begin, make sure mole trapping is legal in your state.
  • Home Mole Remedies: Human hair, broken glass, mothballs, bleach, thorny branches, car exhaust . . . the list of homemade mole remedies is endless, but the list of results are nonexistent, so save your time and money.
  • Ultrasonic and Vibrating Devices: These clever gizmos are popular marketing ploys, but they don’t work either.
  • Mole Fumigation: Poison gas fumigation is very iffy, because the runways are so extensive and the gases are so easily absorbed in the loose soil or vented to the surface. If you do want to try fumigation, hire a professional exterminator who can do it properly.
  • Mole Poisons: Poisons are also iffy and like fumigants, should be applied by a trained professional to keep you safe. Wormlike baits can work if applied properly. Don’t be fooled by grain-based baits and poison peanuts, moles are insectivores and don’t have the right teeth for gnawing.
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Lawn damaged by moles.

Mole Resistant Landscaping

The best way to declare a cease-fire with moles is to change your landscaping:

  • Shrink Your Lawn: Lawns are the most susceptible to mole damage. If your area is eternally overrun with moles, consider replacing all or part of your lawn with naturalized areas and shrub plantings.
  • Reduce Watering: Overwatering saturates the soil, inviting earthworms and moles to the surface. Cut back on irrigating your lawn, and choose drought-tolerant grasses and plants.
  • Go Native:Native plants are less damage-prone and require less water than imported varieties.
  • Keep Moles Out: Protect your raised beds from moles and other critters by lining them (including the sides) with 1/4″ metal hardware cloth. You can also try a mole barrier around the perimeter of your yard. Hardware cloth or sheet metal should be buried at least two feet deep and should stick up about six inches.
  • Natural Predators: Moles aren’t really a popular predator snack (they apparently don’t taste very good), but your dog or cat might enjoy hunting them or scaring them off.

How to deal with moles

Regularly remove molehills from lawns, otherwise the buried grass may not recover. Spread the soil on adjacent beds.

Many molehills may be the work of just one or two individuals, so consider trapping. Scrape back a fresh molehill and set the trap at least 6in down, aligning it with the run.

Exclude light with an upturned bucket and check daily.

If using a live trap such as a Fito Humane Mole Trap, check it at least twice a day. Release the mole a good mile away in open woodland or uncultivated ground.

In a small garden, repellents may be worth a go (in larger gardens the mole just moves to another part of the garden).

Electronic devices are available from The Factory Shop (01325 469181) or Concept Research (01438 727183).

Monitor the lawn for surface runs. They do not break the surface, but give the lawn a «varicose vein» appearance.

Avoid walking on the soft and uneven ground – a sprained ankle is likely. If the soil is not too wet, firm back the raised turf, pressing down with your heel until the grass is level.

This may be sufficient, but if the ground collapses, strip back the grass to reveal the tunnel beneath and fill with soil (taken from any convenient molehill). Replace the turf. Keep it well watered.

The RHS Grow Your Own Campaign returns this year with free starter packs for those who pledge to grow vegetables and fruit via our website (pack numbers are limited).

Gardeners and families are also welcome to attend a Grow Your Own open day at one of our four RHS Gardens on March 6. Entry is free to members or £1 to non-members.

This year, businesses too, are being encouraged to develop workplace allotments. Everyone can hone their growing skills by visiting the RHS website.

How to get rid of garden moles

There is little that can be done to prevent moles entering an area. They often move in from adjacent woodland and banks. Moles are good swimmers and streams present no barrier to their movement

There are plenty of old wives tales that will tell you how to get rid of garden moles, but most of these have no scientific support whatsoever. These include:

  • Flooding mole tunnels with a hosepipe
  • Pouring castor oil down the tunnels

TIP YOU CAN TRUST: Reduce the main food source of moles by removing moss and weeds that earthworms are known to like. Having said that, it’s worth remembering that a certain number of worms are good for aerating the soil in your lawn.

Professional Garden Mole Removal

There is an argument for tolerating a small number of moles, as they are not known to carry disease. If this is how you feel, simply remove the earth that makes up the molehills and use a roller to flatten lawn areas where required.

However, if you need to get rid of the garden moles on your land, Rentokil has the expertise to help.

  • In our experience, professional trapping or fumigation are the only effective solutions to a serious mole problem
  • Our BPCA (British Pest Control Association) certified technicians understand the habits of moles enabling effective, highly targeted treatment

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