Got moles? Take back your yard

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Most homeowners take great pride in keeping their lawns and yards beautiful. While there are many critters that can become a nuisance in your yard, there is one intruder that can quickly turn a groomed lawn into one filled with dirt mounds and yellowed grass and dying shrubs. Moles can be tricky to get rid of because of their extensive tunnel systems and the abundant food sources, but knowing more about these unwelcome guests can help you kick them to the curb.

It is rare to see a mole above ground, but if you happen to catch a glimpse of the critter living in your lawn, this will help you differentiate between moles and gophers. Moles are fairly small, only about the size of a chipmunk. They have cylindrical bodies, outwardly turned palms with strong nails, and very tiny eyes concealed by dark hair. They have no external ears. You’ll see dead grass or round, symmetrical mounds of dirt that resemble volcanoes indicating the tunnel systems closer to the surface of the soil.

The many home remedy ideas floating around makes mole control difficult, because they are not effective and only give the moles more time to become established in your yard. People often place pinwheels along their yard to scare moles away, or will place things like human hair, chili peppers, razor blades and many other things into the moles’ tunnels. Some try to flood the moles out with hoses or gas them out; these fail because of the construction of mole tunnels. Moles are very different than rodents, so anything formulated for rodent control will not be effective against moles and only products specifically for mole control will be effective. Since moles often move to a new area of a yard every couple weeks, it can appear that the home remedy has worked.

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These critters are drawn to areas where they can find three main things: an abundant food source, moisture, and harborage. Since controlling the moisture in your soil or removing all the insects from the soil or the soil itself is not an option, baiting and trapping are the best options in getting rid of moles.

* Baiting is very effective in reducing mole populations, especially with the advances in mole baits. They can be very tricky because they must be placed in an active tunnel and handled very minimally. Talpirid has been recognized as the best mole bait on the market. It mimics the look and texture of an earthworm and is readily accepted by moles. Talpirid can be purchased online, but not in your average lawn and garden store.

* The most effective way to get rid of moles is trapping. While this may sound unpleasant and can be time consuming, it is the best treatment option when you have a mole problem. Moles burrow deeper into the ground when the soil dries out in summer and freezes in winter, following their food sources down into the ground. This makes spring and fall the best times to trap, since the moles will be closer to the surface of the soil. Always read instructions and warnings before using any mole extermination products.