Effective Mole Control

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by turfquip, Feb 21, 2001.

  1. turfquip

    turfquip LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 860

    Forget about chewing gum, homemade caster oil concoctions, etc., the only way you'll know for sure is when you remove your choker loop trap from a fresh run and one of the little bastards is hanging there limp and bleeding through the nose.

    For you that aren't familiar with choker loop, have a look:<BR><BR>

    <IMG SRC="http://www.turfquip.com/mole_02.jpg"><BR><BR>Best results are when you set three or more in an affected area. First you must identify active runs. <BR><BR>Here is your reward for a job well done.<BR><BR><IMG SRC="http://www.turfquip.com/mole_04.jpg">
  2. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    Only problem now is that you killed the only thing that was saving your grass. They are only around to eat grubs. Now the grubs have free reign over the lawn. Get rid of the grub and you get rid of the moles. Moles are natures way to control grubs. They do make an unsightly mess, but they are mother natures predators. Moles have been given a bad name, but they really aren't bad.
  3. turfquip

    turfquip LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 860

    Yeah, that's all well and good but moles eat more than grubs and besides, a good IPM program monitors turf for signs of impending grub damage and responds accordingly.

    The moles I'm dealing with are threatening to undermine a couple of accent walls I spent hours laboring over so in my mind it's the right approach.
  4. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Posts: 3,010

    hoss--saying moles not being bad for a lawn is like saying geese by the hundreds on your pool and patio aren't either. YUCK!

    of course, you are right about the grubs. my question is will effective grub control also kill earth worms?:)

  5. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,969

    This is one of the all time great stories to sell a pesticide. And that is the only reason for this story!! Ever wonder how the moles survive during the 2 or 3 months (depending on grub species) there is no grub population in the soil?

    But, Ed, I have better luck with the spear traps here. Maybe I'm too much into violence? lol.

    If anyone wants good mole info, go to Moles, ADM-10 (PDF format).
  6. turfquip

    turfquip LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 860

    Jim thanks for that link. Very informative stuff. I prefer the choker loop style trap because it 'seems' less dangerous when and where children or pets might wander close.

    There's a special thrill when I see a trap that has sprung....will there be a dead nuisance critter attached when I pull the trap up or will the crafty little demon have gotten away with a fast one?

    I wouldn't exactly call it a bloodthirst...not like the guy that stabbed the pig last week on survivor LOL
  7. Scape Sculptor

    Scape Sculptor LawnSite Member
    Posts: 147

  8. Guest
    Posts: 0

    Before you trap a mole, you ought to learn a little bit about the animal that you're after. The common Missouri mole (Scalopus aquaticus) is a small, seldom-seen fossorial mammal found throughout the state. "Fossorial" is a five-dollar word that means the animal spends most of its time underground. The mole is about the size of a chipmunk and weighs about 100 grams (or four ounces). Its most distinctive feature is the adaptive, palmlike, short front feet which are held in a hands-over-the-head position with the palms facing outward. The mole uses these to get through the soil in about the same way a person swims underwater.

    Except for the flexible, piglike snout, the head is featureless, appearing to be lacking a neck, eyes and ears. Although the mole can only detect light and dark with its eyes, its sense of hearing, touch and smell are acute. The velvety fur is characteristically slate-gray but often appears silvery on fleshly groomed moles and sooty-black on juveniles. A cinnamon-brown staining on the chin and along the middle of the belly is common on the adults, but this is usually is more pronounce in the males. The mole's nearly naked tail acts as an organ of touch which allows the animal to move backwards in its tunnels, although it can, thanks to a narrow hip girdle, perform a somersault in the burrow.

    Moles are carnivorous. Grubworms and earthworms constitute the bulk of their diet. This might explain why plant materials such as castor bean seed are not too effective in mole control. The mole also preys on other soil-dwelling creatures such as beetles, spiders, centipedes, ant pupae and cutworms. In fact, a mole can harvest more than 140 grubworms and cutworms daily (many of which are destructive to your backyard plants). Moles may be found wherever the soil is sufficiently thick, pliable and adhesive enough to support a tunnel system and is adequately populated with wee beasties for food.

    Unfortunately, it is the mole's feeding activity that gives him a bad name. Even though he is a principal aerator and mixer of the soil, his earthen works can disfigure lawns and golf courses; when mice or other rodents use the mole's passages, plant seeds, roots and bulbs can be destroyed, too. The mole hills (mounds of loose dirt) and the heaved ridges (tunnels) are just tall enough to catch a lawnmower blade. This troublesome digging usually is the work of a single mole since this mammal is solitary throughout most of the year. In the spring, however, a mother and her litter of four can all be feeding in your backyard.

    If you get tired of stomping down mole hills, the proper use of a trap will usually take care of the problem. Choker and spear traps are the two principal types. The choker trap is less readily available and more difficult to use and handle, but it is also more humane than the spear trap. Although the spear trap usually impales the mole, it is readily available, easier to use, and if it is visited regularly, the moles that become impaled will not suffer for long. The spring devices in both traps are powerful; read the trap directions carefully and exercies caution to avoid injuries.

    To be effective, a mole trap must be properly set across a major run--those tunnels that are used frequently. Generally, these lead from the nest to the different feeding areas. The day before setting the trap(s), stomp down all the runs so you can determine where the major runs are located. Major runs will probably be pushed back up the next day.

    Select a fairly straight two- or three-foot section of one of these major runs that has been pushed back up; with a single sharp blow with the heel of your shoe, stomp down on the middle of this to create an obstruction in the tunnel. The trap should be placed over this obstruction so that the mole will spring the trap as it repairs the tunnel. Set your trap according to the instructions included with it, and carefully trigger it a couple of times to see it is working properly.

    A good test to check whether you have a good trap location is to punch a small hole in the run on both sides of the trap with a stick. Moles do not like light and will plug holes in runs that light penetrates. Later, if the trap is not tripped but the holes are plugged, the animal has passed by but missed the trap. In that case, strike the burrow two or three times with your heel to collapse the new tunnel and reset the trap. If the trap is not sprung and the holes are not plugged after two days, you probably should move the trap to another location. When temperatures are cold or hot, moles spend most of their time in the deeper burrows. Therefore, you are most likely to be successful at trapping moles in the spring or fall.

    Although trapping is the most effective, least disruptive method to rid your yard of moles, there are others. Treating your yard with poisons to kill the food source will discourage moles from staying around. However, these poisons kill not only the unwanted soil inhabitants but also beneficial ones such as earthworms. By using poisons, you also run the risk of affecting songbird and butterfly populations, not to mention the possible harm to children and household pets.

    One last alternative that may be worth mentioning is to stomp all the burrows down in the morning. Grab a lawn chair, a good book (or a copy of The Conservationist), a beverage or two and a pitchfork. Find yourself a shady tree near the burrow system. When the mole starts pushing the tunnels back up, quickly run over and stab him with the pitchfork. You may not get any moles this way, but you might get in a little reading. That way, being mole-ested doesn't seem so hard to take.
  9. morturf

    morturf LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 475

    I trapped between 500 and 700 moles a year for the last 30 years. I have yet to see a decrease in the population. I have also been around long enough to see what it was like before widespread lawncare and pesticide use. I work mainly in one district of town and have been on most of the yards I take care of for many, many years. Trapping is the only method that works...period. This pest is not deterred by any pesticide/gum/castor oil/tampon/goofy thing everybody comes up with. One thing I have found to slightly deter them is to leave the dead mole in the run where you caught it. Sometimes another mole will come into the same run (even if it is tramped down) and run into the dead one and turn around (sometimes it won't). I prefer the spear trap also, for convienence sake. I can say that in the 30 years I have used them I have never had a problem with a pet or child. I will say this, Victor ruined the spear trap in the last year. They have made them cheaper and they do not work as well. If any of you guys have noticed this go to their website and complain....the new design is not good. I have said enough. Thanks for reading the venting.....LOL
  10. SpringValley

    SpringValley LawnSite Member
    Posts: 147

    Voles are vegetarian moles that eat roots. I have had some success with Mole-Med. I found a thread earlier that said this needs applied monthly to be effective. I will increase my applications to get rid of both moles and voles.


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