Moles can destroy your perfectly manicured lawn in a matter of days. These small, burrowing insectivores can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia. While they don’t actually eat plants and roots, their burrowing causes significant damage to both lawns and flower beds. Moles can dig up to 18 feet per hour and are most active in early morning and evening.
Moles are small in size, ranging between 4 and 11 inches in length and weighing up to 8 ounces. They are most notable for their long, thin, hairless snouts, small eyes, and lack of external ears. They are usually greyish-brown in color. Moles have large, powerful front feet with webbed toes that they use for burrowing underground while their hindfeet are narrow with slender claws. Moles are nearly blind but they make up for their lack of vision with an exceptional sense of smell.
Moles come into your yard in search of one thing – food! Their diet consists primarily of earthworms and grubs but they will eat other soil-dwelling insects, as well. Moles leave behind a trail of damage when they burrow in your yard, leaving visible trails and brown patches and holes in your lawn. Their tunnels cave in easily, leaving you at risk for injury when you step on them.
Some of the most common signs of moles in your yard are:
- Raised ridges that crisscross across your yard
- Areas of discolored or dead grass
- Raised mounds of dirt (molehills) that mark the entrance/exit of tunnels, usually less than 6″ tall and shaped like a football or volcano
- Areas of loose or squishy soil on your lawn
- An abundance of weeds; moles detach plant roots when they burrow, allowing weeds to take over and flourish
Because moles live underground they can be extremely difficult to prevent. The best treatment for moles is targeted elimination usually through trapping or baiting. It is also important to treat existing tunnels so new moles don’t replace the previously removed moles.
If you have a problem with moles or any other pests, contact your local pest control company who can properly assess your situation and treat it appropriately.
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A very common misconception is that moles hibernate during the winter. This is, in fact, not true. Moles do not hibernate and are quite active during the winter months. They actually remain active all winter long, continuing to dig and eat voraciously. Moles are omnivores that prefer to feast on grubs, earthworms, and other bugs. As the soil freezes, moles move from tunneling near the surface to digging deeper in the ground. When the weather starts to warm, the moles will tunnel closer and closer to the surface as the soil thaws and becomes easier to navigate.
Moles can wreak havoc on your lawn and garden. Moles cause dead grass patches because their tunneling disrupts the root system of grass. This creates patches that often start out yellow and eventually turn a light tan color. They also push soil and grass up as they dig, creating random mole hills across your yard. While these are easy to spot in the summertime, they can often go undetected in the winter months, giving you less opportunity to identify and eliminate them early. Because of this, it is important to take precautionary measures early before the winter season sets in. Here are some steps you can take for mole prevention this winter.
Keep It Dry
Overuse of sprinklers and irrigation systems can lead to saturated, loose soil – an ideal environment for moles. This loose soil is much easier to tunnel through and is often rich with earthworms and grubs, making it a literal feast for moles. Heavy rainfall can also create these conditions so it is important to be vigilant after storms. Limit watering unless necessary.
Lay Mulch Later
Mulch is a very effective insulator for plants during cold weather. While we are usually inclined to go ahead and mulch before the cold weather sets in, this creates an insulated environment for moles, as well as your plants. Instead of installing mulch in early fall, try to wait until after the first frost. Hopefully by that point, moles and other pests have established themselves in a more hospitable environment than in your yard.
Physical barriers can be very effective at preventing more damage to flowerbeds and trees. These barriers can be in the form of hardware cloth liners in the bottom and sides of flowerbeds or across the top of the bed to prevent digging or wrapped around the base of trees. By preventing them from digging you can limit the damage inflicted and hopefully encourage them to move on to another yard.
Utilize Natural Predators
Cats, snakes, and birds of prey are the most common natural predators of moles. Cats are especially notorious for pest prevention and rodent control around properties. If you don’t already have a cat, you may consider adopting one to roam your property and provide you with free pest control. Although it may be difficult, reconsider killing that snake you find on your property as they are also excellent at controlling rodent and other pest populations.
Eliminate Food Sources
As mentioned above, moles prefer to feed on earthworms, grubs, and other insects. In fact, mole problems often arise because of underlying grub problems. Be proactive in eliminating grubs and other pests from your yard to help control mole populations, as well.
Call A Professional
The cliche of “making a mountain out of a mole hill” isn’t far from the truth. Mole problems can manifest quickly into mole infestations and they can be extremely difficult to control and eliminate. Consider contacting a professional pest control company and setting up ongoing pest control services as these scheduled visits can help identify mole problems early and help resolve your mole issue quickly.
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