Juicy Fruit not the best option for hunting moles

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, September 15, 2012

I’ve got two active lawn moles right now. One is tunneling an abstract art design in the side yard. The other, out back, seems to be on a long distance trip parallel to the Big Black River. I’ve never mole trapped, but recent success catching armadillos has me in a mole-trapping mood.

Over time, there have been a lot more suggested mole remedies that don’t work than there have been real mole solutions. The main difference among the failure remedies has mostly to do with costs. You can fail as cheaply as the price of a pack of chewing gum or go whole-hog mole dud with a couple of hundred bucks for an electronic device that doesn’t work either.

I never understood falling for the chewing gum falsehood. The “thinking” was a mole would come upon a piece of chewing gum in his tunnel, swallow it and gum up his digestive system. Theoretically, the mole was to die from Juicy Fruit gut disorder.

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Why in the world would we humans at the top of the animal kingdom think a mole wants chewing gum?

I used to be guilty of claiming grub worms were tops on mole menus but that is not true. Earthworms are the No. 1 food of moles. Moles will settle for grub worms and other insect larva if need be, but they are all about earthworm hunting as they dig along. They do not feed on bulbs, roots or any other plant parts. It is a different critter if your bulbs are getting gnawed on.

Putting gum, moth balls, bleach or any other mole tall-tale products in mole tunnels is not going to kill off the animal or make him leave. If a mole comes upon something funny smelling, he is merely going to tunnel slight left or right and keep on earthworm sniffing. The same goes for vibrating wire stems with plastic spinning flowers on top. And moles, like most other pesky animals, soon get used to sounding devices and ignore them.

Super dog or cat aside, there used to be only one semi-dependable mole control option; the mole trap. You have to study an individual mole’s movements for a day or two to guesstimate where to set the trap. In addition to online advice and instructions that come with the trap, I recall suggestions from Bovina Mole Trapper years ago. He said to hang a new trap out in the sun to get the “new” smell off, wear gloves when handling the trap, and smear an earthworm on the trap trigger plate for good measure.

Another mole remedy that can work is the newer toxic baits made to look like and smell like earthworms. Like the traps, though, success with the bait is not easy. The key is knowing where to place the bait on a given day.

Some pest extermination companies have personnel experienced at using the baits. Homeowners can purchase the baits but must take the time to get to know their mole to have a reasonable chance at success.

Terry Rector writes for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District, 601-636-7679 ext. 3.