The questions that I get about moles tend to be framed as curious statements such as “I sprayed for grubs and the moles are still active!” And so I have set up FAQ into three categories with answers to curious statements on Moles & Misconceptions, Control Methods, and Home Remedies. With a little common sense and knowledge of mole behavior, should be a no-brainer.
Robert Corrigan Ph.D. Entomologist & Private Consultant sums this category up best and I quote from animal damage control (a Cooperative Extension Service Publication ADC-10 from Purdue University). “ Many ‘home remedy’ approaches have been tried over the years to combat the mole. Desperate homeowners and gardeners have tried placing various irritating materials in the runways such as broken glass, razor blades, rose branches, bleach, moth balls, lye, and even human hair. Some have hooked up their car’s exhaust system to mole tunnels; others have pumped hundreds of gallons of water into the tunnels.
Frightening devices such as mole wheels (spinning daises), vibrating windmills, and whistling bottles have also been tried. Aside from relieving frustrations, home remedy approaches have little value in controlling moles. Personally, I don’t think there’s a home remedy that I haven’t heard about or tried. Besides wasting valuable time, home remedies have no value in effectively controlling moles!
And in case you think I no longer have an open mind on this subject, feel free to forward any method or concoction that you think has worked for you. E-mail email@example.com or use the guestbook on the home page.
“I spray every year for grubs and I still have moles!.” Pesticide manufacturers have in the past targeted white grub as the moles chief source of food, which their chemicals might control. In fact 80 to 90% of the moles daily diet is met by the organically beneficial, gardener approved soil maker the earthworm. The rest of the moles diet can be millipedes in mulch, ants, pillbugs and other insects found around home foundations, rocks and landscaping timbers. In some areas of the east and midwest moles can feed heavily on periodic cicada (17 and 13 year locust) for the better part of the cicada’s life span. Mole populations will decrease significantly after cicada have emerged and in residential properties, may not be problems for 9 to 10 years after the cicada have emerged.
“The neighbors don’t have moles but I do. Why me?” The grass is literally always greener from the other side of the fence. The neighbors probably do have moles and just don’t know it or there is not as much visible damage or you’re fussier about your lawn than they are about theirs. The fact of the matter is that we probably share moles. In 1967, Dr. M.J. Harvey, in a dissertation at the University of Kentucky (Lexington) established the average homerange of the Eastern Mole after a three year study. The results suggested that the average homerange for a female mole was three quarter to one acre. The male moles average was two and a half to four acres in its woodland habitat. I believe that homeranges are in fact smaller in residential areas because of a larger ground biomass (bugs). This simply means more moles to the acre in and around neighborhoods.
” I didn’t have moles until my neighbor ran them into my yard!” and “I didn’t mind when they were in the back yard, but now they’re in the front lawn and flower beds!” In fact moles need a well-established tunnel network in order to survive. Mole populations will actually expand ( from neighboring tunnels) into your lawn. The tunneling usually progresses slowly, foot by foot. The mounding may also progress slowly. Moles need time to establish a reliable producing tunnel system and any control method other than trapping will give them the time to establish.
“Moles are dormant in winter, right?” In fact moles don’t hibernate nor do worms. The moles follow worms deep into the ground as both try to avoid freezing. Most of the moles deeper (older) tunnels remain comfortable throughout the winter. Winter damage by moles usually occurs during unseasonably warm periods or beneath the insulation of heavy snow. Moles can’t hibernate because they don’t store food or fat.
“I watch the tunnels for activity but I never see them move!” Many old tales deal with when moles are active. I’ve heard of everything from “6 in the morning, noon, and 4 in the afternoon” to “only at night” to “8, 12, and 6 PM. ” Moles generally are timid animals, easily alerted or frightened by unfamiliar noises. Methodical or constant noises don’t seem to bother them. I have paid exclusive attention to mole behavior for many years now and when asked the above question on activity I feel comfortable with the answer, moles are usually active when and where the surroundings are quietest. I have seen them sit motionless in a tunnel for more than twenty minutes when they have been disturbed or frightened.
“I tried trapping and it doesn’t work!” I hear this a lot. I usually retort that I have golf clubs but can’t play golf. It’s not the clubs and its not the traps. Common problems are setting good traps in bad places or bad traps in good places. See control.htm
“I have trapped moles but I still have them.” You have to trap all of the moles in your lawn and not just the easy ones. Even systematic trapping may not be and end-all to a mole problem. Moles always take the path of least resistance when tunneling. Trapping is the only effective method of control but, when successful, creates empty tunnels literally “in move in condition.” Any neighboring mole will probably recolonize the old tunnels and you will have more trapping to do. Empty tunnels will also be used by dispersing moles in late spring and migrating moles in the fall. Sorry!
“Does castor oil and soap work on moles?” I seem to get this a lot especially since some questionable test results from Michigan State University were released and the concoction was allowed to be sold premixed from various manufacturers. It is now sold under names such as Mole-Med, Mole-Go, Mole Repel and others ad nauseam. I first heard of this old home remedy as a mixture to be prepared in the home workshop by emulsifying medicinal castor oil with a detergent or soap. You were to whip in a blender 3 ounces of castor oil and 3 tablespoons of liquid detergent until frothy. Then add 8 tablespoons of water until frothy again. The mixture was to be applied with a 15 Gal. hose end sprayer at a mixture rate of 15 tablespoons mixed with water to fill the sprayer jar and applied to the entire lawn. This old concoction never did work and never will work and if it did work as intended, as a repellent, it just puts a bad situation off , leaving the moles to dig and reproduce elsewhere. This can mean more damage and more moles for you to deal with later. The first commercial product, that I am aware of, with this “odorous organic plant oil to repel vermin and pests” was sold under the name Mole Patrol and was manufactured by a Tulsa, Oklahoma company. I understand that the product was pulled from the market or production because the company could not substantiate efficacy nor had the company done required environmental impact studies at the request of the Oklahoma EPA. I am still unaware of any E-impact studies being done on castor oil and soap or any reliable testing of its efficacy. I might add that one garden catalogue company that sells Mole Med does list a satisfied customer in Denver Colorado. The only problem is that according to distrubutional maps, there should be no moles in Denver!
I get a lot of questions concerning poison baits and pellets (strychnine sulfate or alkaloid). These products always list pocket gophers or gophers along with moles on the label. Pocket gophers and gophers are rodents. They have upper and lower incisors especially suited to gnawing hard objects like hard grain type baits and may well consume this form of rodentcide. Moles on the other hand are insectivores. They do not have the dental structure to gnaw grain baits even if they had a taste for them. They probably will not or cannot eat chewing gum (another fairly common home remedy) either. The popular brand of gum seems to be Juicy Fruit with any brand of bubble-gum running a close second. The only controversy that the gum enthusiasts share is weather or not to chew the gum first or leave it unchewed. Since moles can’t eat either, why worry.
You cannot control moles with Talpirid or Tomcat poison worms. I have never read or heard a good thing about this product that wasn’t written by, or in an advertisement paid for by the manufacturer.