As springtime approaches, lawns and gardens begin to show evidence of one of the peskiest of pests – the ground mole. The Latin name given to the mole is misleading (scalopus aquaticus) because it was originally thought to be a water-based animal but that was later found not to be true. Mole problems arise when they till and form soil, feed on destructive insects and dig mole tunnels that aerate the soil and permit moisture to penetrate deeper soil layers. When moles disfigure a manicured lawn and damage the roots of garden plants while searching for food, they become undesirable. Take a deep dive into mole activity and their lives, how to get rid of ground moles in your lawn and what you can’t do to get rid of them.
Most never actually see moles in your yard — just their handy work in the form of mole hills and raised tunnels throughout their lawn. The mole is about 6 inches long and weighs about 3 ounces. It has 36 teeth and lives for more than 3.5 years in the Midwest region. Its body is somewhat cylindrical-shaped with an elongated head. The eyelids are fused and sight is limited to simply distinguish between light and dark. The ear opening is small and is concealed in the fur, but hearing is fairly acute. The species has exceptional odor detection and can identify the direction of its prey even in 15% oxygen levels.
Moles are native to Canada, Europe, Mexico and the United States. The Eastern Mole, most common in our area, is a small sturdy animal that lives principally underground and is highly specialized for a subterranean way of life. Like other insectivore species, it prefers loamy soils in woods, pastures, meadows and manicured lawns.
Moles’ primary food source is earthworms, but they will also eat insects, larvae, and vegetation. In captivity, they will eat ground beef, dog food, mice and small birds. Dogs, cats, foxes, birds of prey and coyotes all hunt the mole. The species hosts a variety of parasites.
Moles maintain a home range of about two acres throughout their lives and can dig at 17 feet per hour. Moles are solitary creatures, coming together only to mate. Territories may overlap and males may fight fiercely if they meet. The Eastern Mole digs both permanent burrows and shallow, temporary ones just under the surface, used for foraging. The regular, permanent highway is often built 25 centimeters or more below the surface and is used as a retreat during hot days, dry weather and when the frost has descended. When digging new burrows, dirt is excavated into molehills.
The nest is built approximately a foot below the surface and has several approaches, with one that enters from below. The gestation period is usually 45 days and a single litter of two to five young is produced between mid-April and June. They are born blind and naked and are relatively large compared to the mother. At 10 days old they exhibit a fine, velvety fur that is retained for several weeks. The offspring grow rapidly and leave the nest in four weeks.
Folk remedies, scare devices and repellents are plentiful and may include:
An effective program for mole reduction starts with a detailed inspection of the property and is the key to success. There are successful approaches to mole control which may include mole trapping. Two common traps are used with various levels of quality and effectiveness, which include scissor-type and harpoon types. The use of this mechanical control method needs to be applied by an experienced applicator for the best results. Numerous studies have indicated trapping alone is approximately 15% effective due to environmental aversion to these stations.
The application of using poison “worms” as mole bait has proven to be successful in the reduction of mole and vole populations and has been utilized for quick knockdown and long-term control. The material is placed in the environment and is consumed in a fatal dose by the moles. This method is best applied by a highly experienced applicator to achieve positive results.
If you’re tired of trying all the home remedies like Dawn soap, chewing gum and vinegar, or spending time trying to trap moles yourself, we understand. At Ryan Lawn & Tree, we have a team of pest control professionals with the education, experience and skill to get rid of moles in your lawn and prevent moles from returning. Hundreds of customers throughout the Midwest trust RYAN Pros for lawn care, tree care, irrigation service as well as reducing pests that trouble their outdoor living areas. Give us a call at your local Kansas City, Springfield or Wichita Ryan Lawn & Tree office and we’ll be happy to come out and give you a free price quote on ground mole reduction. Free your lawn from mole mania this spring. Call Ryan Lawn & Tree today!