Amanda-Sears

Amanda Sears

How to manage moles? It's a million dollar question! It seems like moles have been especially bad the last few years.

The eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) is the most common and abundant mole in Kentucky. Moles are found in lawns, pastures, meadows, and woodlands. The mole belongs to the order of mammals called Insectivores, the insect eaters. Their food is chiefly earthworms, but they also feed on grubs, ants, beetles, slugs, snails, spiders, and centipedes etc. The mole seldom eats vegetable matter but causes its damage by uprooting turf, vegetables or other plants.

Moles construct and use extensive underground tunnels. They create shallow surface tunnels in the spring, summer and fall. Other tunnels are often deep. The only evidence of these tunnels are mounds of soil pushed to the surface.

If you have problems with moles, one way to control them is to use a harpoon trap. Surface burrows or runs are used most actively during the spring and fall. To be successful, you must find an active burrow. To determine which runs are active, flatten a small section of the run with your foot and check the next morning. Within 12 to 24 hours, active runs will be repaired by the mole. Place a trap in this location. Be sure to handle the trap safely; keep it away from children, and follow the manufacturer's directions. Put a small bucket over it if children or pets are present. If the trap has not captured a mole in three days: the trap was placed in the wrong location; the run was disturbed too much; the mole detected the trap; the mole changed its habits and was not actively using the burrow; or all the moles in the general area are captured. A publication on moles is available with more detailed instructions on how to be successful with traps can be found here: http://forestry.ca.uky.edu/sites/forestry.ca.uky.edu/files/for42.pdf

Another product on the market to control moles is a fake worm injected with the rodenticide, bromethalin. Examples of trade names for this product are Talpirid and Tomcat Mole Killer. These can be placed into active runs or mounds to kill the mole immediately after the product is ingested. Always follow the safety precautions when using the product. There is some evidence that repellents containing the active ingredient castor oil are effective in repelling moles from lawns. If a suitable habitat remains for the moles, they will return. Follow the manufacture's label closely and observe safety precautions.

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