Moles live underground and seldom venture out of their burrows. They are most active in the early morning and late evening hours. The ridges of earth pushed up by burrowing plainly indicate their presence in a lawn. The number of tunnels is no indication of the number of moles present. One mole may construct a maze of hap-hazard, criss-crossing runways. Certain runways are used frequently, but most of the tunneling is made in a random search for food. Some runways are seldom used again.
Moles feed almost exclusively on insects, earthworms, grubs and other insect larvae. Damage to bulbs, flowers and vegetables while often blamed on moles usually is caused by mice using mole runways. Bulbs and plant roots can dry out when lifted out of the ground by an energetic mole.
Since moles eat earthworms, insects and other arthropods one theory is to use insecticides to eliminate their food supply and force them to move elsewhere. This rarely works because insecticides do not eliminate all of the mole’s food. The mole may dig that much more looking for earthworms and other food.
Poison peanuts are sold for mole control – but moles do not eat peanuts so this too is usually unsuccessful.
Trapping is difficult but it may be successful if care is taken. First it is necessary to determine a suitable runway in which to place the trap. As stated earlier many of the visible mole runways are made during the search for food and may never be used again. Therefore, it is necessary to locate runways that are used regularly.
An easy way to locate such places is to flatten many sections of the runways. Do this by stepping on them. Mark the flattened places with stones or other small items. Repeat this procedure for a few days to discover runways where the moles go regularly. These places will be raised each day. Place the trap in these runways according to directions. Be sure to place the trap in such a way so as to prevent a child or animal from becoming accidently hurt.
Some laissez faire gardeners say that the only thing you should do is to mash down the active tunnels completely and force the mole to move to more hospitable yards. That is certainly a viable option and perhaps a good source of income for an impecunious sixteen-year old with size twelve shoes. It is difficult to live trap a mole but you can try burying an open-mouthed three-pound coffee can in the path of a tunnel and hope a mole falls in.
Plenty of folk remedies have been proposed for mole control. The following do not, repeat DO NOT, work:
•Insecticide treatments to the lawn
Products containing castor oil have recently been touted to repel moles but little research supports their effectiveness. Castor bean plant is extolled to repel moles but no known research supports this either.
For an excellent guide to mole control, the Missouri Extension Service has a publication available at their Web site: