Mole Control - Buyer
Tim Gibb, Turfgrass IPM Specialist, Department
of Entomology, Purdue University
Moles are back at it again! These small subterranean,
tunnel-making pests can cause big frustrations for those managing
turfgrass and landscapes. Mole damage is most noticeable during
the spring and fall, but spring may be the most effective time
to control them.
Moles are gray, furry, mammals
that reach 6–8
inches in length. They have abnormally high metabolism rates which
means that they must constantly eat and are active almost year-round,
day and night.
Moles are unique animals and are perfectly adapted
for their underground life. They are nearly blind and have very
strong front feet designed for tunneling. They can tunnel as much
as 100 feet per day in their quest for food. Frozen soils during
the wintertime force moles to tunnel very deep underground. Evidence
of this wintertime activity are large piles of black soil deposited
on top of the lawn or garden. One may not see surface tunneling
at this time, but make no mistake, piles of soil are also a sure
sign that the moles will be back making surface tunnels when temperatures
Moles mostly feed on earthworms.
While they do eat grubs, it’s an old wives tale that grubs
are the reason that moles are in a lawn. Therefore using grub
control products as a method of controlling moles will not be
effective. Even in grub free lawns, moles continue to survive,
because the majority of their diet consists of the ever-present
When the ground dries out in the
summer (or when it freezes in the winter), earthworms and soil
dwelling insects remain deeper in the ground - and so do the moles.
This behavior makes control difficult because one can never be
certain that the moles are truly eliminated even though they are
not making surface runs.
Moles are not rodents like
rats and mice, which can be baited using rodent foods. Poison
peanuts or other grain baits won’t work since moles don’t feed on seeds,
alfalfa pellets or any of the typical baits that are sold to ‘kill
rodents’ even though some are touted as a control for ‘rodents
People also should beware of false claims about
schemes to drive moles away. Many books and magazines having to
do with gardening and landscaping have references or advertising
concerning bizarre strategies to control moles. These include putting
mothballs, human hair, razor blades, or chewing gum in their tunnels,
or using pinwheels or ultrasonic devices to scare moles away. The
reality is that these just do not work.
The only two methods of
effectively controlling moles are to (1) to use a bait that they
are attracted to OR (2) to physically remove them. A fairly recent
bait that has been proven to be effective is packaged and sold
in the form of a worm. The attractive smell and taste that is incorporated
into the worm, together with Bromethalin (the active ingredient
that poisons the mole), makes for a lethal combination.
mole traps can be used depending upon where the moles are working.
A scissor trap is better for use in subsurface, or deep, mole runs.
A harpoon trap is usually easier to use when the tunnels are near
Whether using traps or worm-shaped baits, placement
is critical. Choose a run that the mole uses regularly. Usually
this is a run that is in a straight line as opposed to squiggly
tunnels that are generally used for food foraging only. The best
straight runs follow a structural guideline such as a curb or a
gutter, because these are used regularly as the moles travel from
their nest to the foraging area. To determine if a run is active,
stomp it down flat then check the following day to see if it is
pushed back up. If the tunnel has been repaired, it is usually
an active tunnel and should be considered for trapping or baiting.
Mole traps and baits are available at most hardware,
home repair and farm supply stores, generally right there in the
middle of a bunch of mole control products that do NOT work. Buyer
For additional information on moles and mole control,
contact the Wildlife
Conflicts Information Hotline at: 1-800-893-4116.