Moles

How to Identify and Get Rid of Moles

get-rid-of-moles

Here are tips on how to identify and get rid of moles in the garden or yard.

What Are Moles?

Moles are ground–dwelling carnivores that prefer to eat insects instead of your garden plants. However, their underground tunnels can ruin your garden and lawn and make an easy access to your plants for other rodents.

If you have a significant invasion of moles or similar pests, it may be a sign of trouble. Moles are usually found where soil is rich in organic matter. Their presence in unusually large numbers might be due to a high population of soil pests. It therefore serves as a warning that all is not well with the soil life.

Identification

How to Identify Moles in your Garden

Moles are surprising little mammals with pointed muzzles, tiny eyes, and bodies shaped like Idaho potatoes. In motion they actually swim along underground, using wide front flippers to part the soil as they go. They prefer moist, loamy soil and are most active in the early morning or evening in the spring or fall; they also come out after a warm rain.

Moles have the distinguishing characteristic of a hairless, pointed snout. Their small eyes and ear canals are concealed by fur, and they do not have external ears. They have very large and broad forefeet with webbed toes. Their hind feet or more narrow and have slender claws. They are usually about 7 inches in length and weigh about 4 ounces.

Mole Damage

  • Moles usually feed on insect pests, grubs, and soil organisms, including beneficial ones like earthworms.
  • Unlike vegetarian voles, moles dig deep. Their tunnels are usually at least ten inches underground, unless they’re scanning the surface in search of a mate. Check your soil and lawn for their tunnels. They will look like raised volcano-shaped swellings in your yard.
  • Surface tunnels or ridges also indicate mole activity.

mole-damage-tunnels.jpg

Control and Prevention

How to Deter Moles

  • If you have a persistent mole problem, the best solution is trapping. Frankly, this is often the only way to get rid of moles. Use a humane trap, and release the moles at least 5 miles from your home in a rural area away from someone else’s garden. See more details below.
  • Placing ultrasonic devices or noisemakers such as spinning daisies near the runs are often effective.
  • Owning a cat that enjoys walking through your flower beds is a very effective deterrent to rodents.
  • Moles are carnivores that make themselves at home in lawns rich in grubs and insects. When their food is seasoned with castor oil, they will go elsewhere for meals. (Wouldn’t you?) Mix up a spray of 3 parts castor oil to 1 part dish detergent; use 4 tablespoons of this concoction in a gallon of water, and soak the tunnels and the entrances.
  • Dip an ear of corn in roofing tar and place it in one of their tunnels. Moles hate the smell of tar, and you’ll block their escape.
  • Some readers say it works to sprinkle dried blood, tobacco, powdered red pepper, or coffee grounds near tunnel entrances. Remember to re-apply after a rain.
  • However, many folk remedies do not control moles, such as placing gum, human air, bleach, ammonia or mothballs near the tunnels. And remember that moles will not eat peanuts or grain; they are insectivores.
  • You may have luck using wind power—setting up vibrations in the ground that will bother moles and send them away. Low-tech methods include kids’ pinwheels placed here and there on the lawn, or a homemade thumper: Cut fins in the sides of a bleach bottle and place it on a stick driven into the ground near a mole entrance.
  • Finally, there are mole repellents as well as baits though we do not personally use. Bromethalin is sold in the form of a worm-shaped bait; place baits in an active mole run. Correct placement is critical; read and follow all directions provided with the product.

Trapping Moles

No permit is required for trapping. Place traps so that they will be triggered as moles travel in the runs. 

Before placing a trap, make sure the run is active by pressing down with your foot; if the soil is pushed up the next day, the run is still active. 

Straight runs, especially those near the edges of a driveway or sidewalk, are preferred. It the trap does not catch a run in two days, move the trap to a different run.

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Prevent Moles

  • Check out your soil for the presence of pests; if you have a lot of moles, you may have an oversupply of grubs and bugs. You can try getting rid of the grubs with beneficial nematodes, however, it doesn’t necessary mean the moles will go away; grubs are only part of their diet. 
  • If you want to protect specific plants, dig a 2- to 3-foot hole and line the sides and bottom of the hole with wire mesh. Fill the hole with soil and plant.
  • Where you are determined to try bulbs, make a small “cage” of ½-inch mesh screen. Place several bulbs inside, root plate down and bury the entire cage at the proper depth. Rodents won’t be able to chew through, but roots and stems can grow out. Note: moles are often blamed for the damaged caused by field mice.

Learn more about moles and what they do in your yard. Do you have comments or questions about moles? Let us know below!

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Reader Comments

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moles

The Editors's picture

It might help to treat for moles in your yard, such as with repellent, to discourage them from crossing over, but likely you would need to repeat the treatment every so often as more set up shop or the treatment’s effectiveness fades. An underground barrier around the perimeter of your yard might be more effective, but might not be practical, depending on the size of your yard. Although the tunnels/mounds are unsightly, and occasionally mole tunneling can remove soil around the roots of plants, causing problems, the moles help to aerate the soil and eat grubs and other pests. If you can stand it, you might prefer to let them alone, or pack down the hills and tunnels as they appear. If your soil is moist, cut back on watering your lawn a bit, as the drier environment discourages moles.

moles

i was wondering how to do the gum thing do you put the gum down in the hole/ tunnel /.. and does it ruin the vegatables can you still eat the produce if the moles have been tunneling thru it?

Best and Easiest Way

Wrong. The best way to get rid of moles is to kill their food source. Treat your lawn with a full spectrum insect killer like Triazicide. Moles promptly move out. Plus it's good for your lawn too.

Be careful with Triazicide around pets, etc..

There have been instances where small dogs and other pets have been poisoned by Triazicide. It is also toxic to Bees and fish. Be careful of runoff to storm drains. I was going to try it but my wife alerted me to her findings on this product. I guess I will be trying the Juicy Fruit method.

moles

I have mole(s) and was told of the mixture using castor oil, and was told to use "scented" castor oil. No where was I able to find "scented" castor oil until a neighbor told me to try a beauty supply store. Low and behold they have all kinds of "scented" castor oil.

Best place to plant?

A kind person dropped off a few "mole plants" while we were away. I've discovered they are poisonous so I don't want them planted in the flower bed. A side walk is between the flower bed and the lawn anyway. I do want the moles gone! They need a new place to hang out other than my front and back yard. How far from the lawn do the plants need to be planted? Does Juicy Fruit gum actually work?

Mole Plants

The Editors's picture

Hi, Laura. Unfortunately, mole plants have not been proven to definitely deter moles. Their odor is what supposedly keeps the moles away, but you would have to plant them throughout your lawn and flower bed to effectively get rid of the moles (most people don’t love to do this because of the poisonous plant qualities). Juicy Fruit gum has been an effective method, but keep in mind that it will kill the moles, and others will probably come back. Consider trying some of our organic methods above, especially trying to lower the number of grubs in your lawn. If the moles don’t have anything to eat, they won’t come back. Good luck!

Armadillo's

Why are they so distructive to my yard? Each morning I wake up to deep holes and small holes and my carpet grass ripped out. What can I do to get rid of them? HELP.

No powdered red pepper

Please don't advocate using powdered red pepper to deter rodents. If you've ever seen a squirrel scratch it's eyes out from the pain of red pepper, you would think twice before using it. There are much more effective and humane ways to deal with rodents.

Red peppet

Sounds like a good two for one deal get rid of the moles and get rid of squirrels

How to kill a mole

I had a mole issue, and used every conceivable method to try and kill them. I finally found an article online that said to stick a piece of Juicy Fruit gum in the hole and cover it up. Sure enough, no more mole. Moles eat the gum but cannot digest it, leading to their death. Cost...25 cents!!!

How to Kill a Mole

Tell me, after 14 months after using the J F gum, are the moles still GONE? I have tried several 'cures' and not working so far.
BTW what state are you in? I am in FL. Seems certain methods work in one part of the county & not the other. Tks

Great article - I was having

Great article - I was having problems with a mole in my garden for many years, and tried various methods of getting rid but with no such luck! So a neighbour recommended that I used a traditional mole catcher, and called this guy www.lancashiremolecatcher.com

Couldnt recommend him enough!

Don't forget mole crickets.

Don't forget mole crickets. Very destructive to gardens and a real problem in Florida..even the pythons won't touch them (lol).

last year I had something

last year I had something eating my cantaloupe , for every 6 it got I got 2 not good odds there. I thought it was a mole because there is a hole in the garden box (fenced in) and inside of the fence are 3 12x12 garden boxes . there are what I had always been told are mole trails through the yard kind of a country setting with creek down over the hill. But I see you say they primarily eat insects and grubs so what would be eating my cantaloupe ? If it didn't eat so many I wouldn't mind oh tomatoes too, but the ratio me to them is not even close to fair, and what ever it is has to go. what do you suggest is eating everything and what should I do? also could it be rabbits and the mole trails are just coincidental?

What animal it might be will

The Editors's picture

What animal it might be will depend on your location. It is likely not a mole, because of its diet. Voles (similar to mice) dig shallow tunnels that run along the lawn, as moles do; these rodents can be destructive in the garden. Other small rodents, such as mice might be a possibility as well. Chipmunks also dig tunnels, although you might not see the tunnels running along the surface. Gophers leave mounds of dirt at tunnel entrances, but not tunnels along the grass. Large holes could be a woodchuck, but they don't have shallow tunnels. Rabbits, crows, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes, deer . . . just about any animal that eats fruit as part of its diet will take advantage of a melon. Raccoons like melons (and corn) especially. What animal it is will affect how you protect the fruit. Good luck!

What do I have that is making

What do I have that is making large mounds of dirt all over my yard. I have been told they are not moles so what are they. There are tunnels for one to the next by not surface tunnels. They seem to be everywhere but no one can tell me what they are or how to get rid of them.

Why not moles? They are the

The Editors's picture

Why not moles? They are the big tunnel-makers. The eastern mole is the mole that creates surface tunnels all over the place, but the star-nosed mole is the mole that forms the big piles or volcanoes of soil on the surface. Castor oil based products are widely available. Other tips are on this page.

I had a mole tunneling under

I had a mole tunneling under my flowers and read a web site on how to get rid of moles...didn't want to go the poison route so I set a mouse trap with salami and got him that night..was so surprised and pleased that it was that easy...try it if u have moles

I also got a mole in one day

I also got a mole in one day using a mouse trap, but I used peanut butter.

I'm trying to find out if

I'm trying to find out if Moles and get inside the walls of your house and make their way to your attic? It's the dead do winter and I've been hearing something in my wall that moved from the corner of my home inward about 5ft then the noise went up toward my ceiling. It's been driving me crazy so I called my insurance company asking about termites. They tell me termites, bees etc normally are dormant during the winter. Now I'm freaked out...please help!
Thanks,
Linda

Moles are underground animals

The Editors's picture

Moles are underground animals and probably not the source of your attic troubles. If it feels like a bigger critter scurrying around, we would guess squirrels. See our tips on controlling squirrels here: http://www.almanac.com/content...

Thank you for your help,

Thank you for your help, however these are not in my attic. They are in my wall and just moved toward my attic. The 'scratching sound' if you will, has stopped between my picture window and my ceiling..but from what I can tell it seems to still be coming from between the front wall of my home. I know..it's the craziest thing. Still no signs of critters or bugs in my home..thank God! :))

Animals can sometimes get

The Editors's picture

Animals can sometimes get stuck inside the walls, or set up residence there--anything from raccoons, opossums, and squirrels (including flying squirrels) on down to smaller animals such as mice, roof rats, chipmunks, etc., including baby animals. (Pets can also sometimes get stuck, if they fall through the attic flooring.) Sometimes birds and bats get into attics, but rarely walls. When you hear the noises, night or day, will help to ID it.
We'd recommend that you consult an animal pest control company. They can determine whether the animal is trapped in the wall or has entrance/exit sites on the outside of the house. They can also remove the animal safely (wild animals will be scared and may retaliate, and some may carry diseases), and determine if it is just one animal, or several, such as a mom with babies. During the process, they may need to cut a hole in the wall to gain access. Good luck!

Noise in walls/attic

Sounds to me like mice/rats/squirrels. They invade small spaces like between walls, then just keep invading until they end up in your kitchen cupboards, dresser drawers, food pantry....yep...better get out the deCon or a lot of traps.

I have ground moles in my

I have ground moles in my attic. I have caught them on my mouse traps so I know they are ground moles I have. How can I get rid of them in my attic...certainly no vegetation or dirt in my attic.

We would recommend using a

The Editors's picture

We would recommend using a havahart trap to remove the mole(s). To prevent any more moles from moving into your attic, try placing several jars filled with mothballs throughout the space. You can also try dipping cotton balls in mint or eucalyptus oil and spreading them throughout the attic.
Good luck!

We own a wildlife control

We own a wildlife control company in Georgia. I assure you that it is not mole in your attic that is making noises in the attic at night. Flying Squirrels and Rats are nocturnal and are most likely the problem.

I would call a professional to inspect your attic to determine the species and then come up with a plan.

Raccoons.

Raccoons.

I am finding my Mexican

I am finding my Mexican Feathergrass laying over and I can pick it up by the handful, no root system. I am also having problems with my autumn sage. Will moles eat the roots of these plants? I just had my flower bed landscaped this past March.

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