Methods of Mole Control

If you're sick of these varmints digging through your yard, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Guy Edwardes/Getty

A few years back, reader Beth Winslett Fontenot emailed me, "We've recently discovered that we have MOLES tunneling through our yard! My yard looks like it has varicose veins! Any thoughts on getting rid of them?"

Of all the critters that gardeners rail about, moles top the list. Unlike their lookalikes, voles and mice, moles aren’t rodents, but belong to a class of mammals called insectivores. This means that they don’t eat and damage plants the way the others do.

Then why do gardeners hate them so? Because in pursuit of a subterranean diet that consists of earthworms, grubs, snails, slugs, and ants, they dig shallow, dome-shaped tunnels just under the soil surface, pushing up mounds of soil along the way and ruining pristine lawns. Their turbo-charged metabolisms force them to consume up to 100% of their body weight (2-3 ounces) every day, usually in the hours near dusk and dawn. I have no idea how they spend the rest of their time, but suspect much of it goes to texting and social media.

If mole tunnels are crisscrossing your lawn at this moment, you can take solace in the fact it means you have good soil. Moles don’t like compacted rocky or clay soils, because they make for hard digging and the food supply is less. They prefer the soft, fertile soil also favored by garden plants and earthworms. Did you take solace? No, I thought not.

So how do you get rid of moles in your yard? Forget most of the home-made remedies you’ve read about on the internet, like clogging the mole’s intestines by feeding it Juicy-Fruit gum, assassinating it with poison peanuts, or suffocating it by hooking up your car’s exhaust pipe to the tunnel system. These don’t work.

The best, most effective solution for the average homeowner is a mole trap. One that I really like is the steel Mole Eliminator Trap available online from gemplers.com. It looks mean. It IS mean -- but only to moles. If you set one of these in an active mole tunnel and a mole comes scurrying through it, well.............heaven just gained one more mole.

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The key is to locate an active tunnel. In searching for food, a mole typically uses one main tunnel in your yard and then builds shorter side tunnels that lead to nowhere. To locate an active tunnel, use your shoe to mash down a 6-inch section of tunnel. Then come back later and see what's happened. If the damage is repaired, you've found an active tunnel. Carefully following directions, you place the trap into this tunnel and gleefully await the carnage.

Pressing down onto the trap with your foot sets it. When the mole comes along, he pushes up soil against the plunger, springs the trap, and scissor-like blades give him an extremely close cut. Pull up the trap and dispose of the body in a respectful way while playing church music. Justice has been served.

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