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Controlling moles can be difficult

Posted: June 8, 2013 - 11:12pm

Have you noticed a number of raised tunnels appearing in your lawn or garden seemingly overnight? If so, there might be a mole infestation. Controlling moles isn’t easy and can require a good deal of patience.

Moles are small mammals with pointed snouts and oversized forefeet used for digging. The most common mole species in our area is the eastern mole. They are about the size of a chipmunk as adults. They are solitary animals that rarely leave the safety of their tunnels. Moles are most active in the early mornings, especially after a rain.

Although they may appear to be damaging your plants, moles are meat eaters. Their favorite foods include earthworms, grubs, spiders, snails and slugs. As soil temperatures rise in the spring, mole activity increases as insects become more active. Mole offspring are usually born in March or April.

One mole can make several tunnels; therefore, it can be difficult to determine how many moles are tunneling through a lawn. Moles destroy very few plants or bulbs by direct feeding, but may dislodge plants while tunneling in search of food.

The recommended method to control moles is trapping. Mole traps are lethal and can be found at many home improvement stores.

Before setting a mole trap, it is important to find the main tunnels. Tamp down all visible tunnels and check them in two to three hours to see which are visible again.

This is the main travel tunnel and should be the location for the trap.

There are various home remedy methods rumored to control moles, such as castor bean oil, chewing gum or mothballs. There are also several mole repellents available that use sonic waves or vibration to scare away moles. None of these have been proven to be reliable.

Poisonous bait, marketed as “gummy worms” to mimic soil grubs, is not a reliable method to control moles because they are often not ingested by the mole.

Limiting the mole’s food supply can be an effective method for control. Soil insecticides will kill many of the grub insects, but they will not be effective in controlling earthworms, which have been shown to be a large portion of the mole’s diet.

Because there is no proven preventative control, sustained mole control often can be difficult. New mole populations can easily enter from adjacent areas, especially near wooded areas.

If all else fails, get a cat. Your feline friend will be more than willing to chase down and eliminate them at no charge.

Tripp Williams, Columbia County’s agriculture and natural resource extension agent, can be reached at (706) 541-4011, or trippj@uga.edu.

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