Summer Mole Problems
Moles can tunnel throughout many lawns during the summer. They
feed on earthworms, insects, and other small soil-dwelling animals.
Their food is primarily earthworms, and the abundance and presence
of earthworms can be a major reason for their activity. Moles will
also be more abundant in turf areas that border natural areas such
as meadows, prairie areas, and wooded areas or near creeks and streams.
As mole numbers increase in those areas, they are more prone to
invading nearby lawns. This situation can cause frequent reinvasion
of the turf area from the natural area regardless of what preventative
measures are taken in the turf area or the amount of "food"
Insecticides are often suggested for use in the battle against
moles. However, since moles feed primarily on earthworms, the application
of insecticides to reduce the number of grubs and other soil insects
that are food for the moles is not likely to always be successful.
Most turf insecticides have little effect on earthworms. This lack
of effect is fortunate because the earthworms are very useful in
soil aeration and breakdown of thatch. In late summer, white grubs
become more active and some homeowners ask about killing the grub
population to reduce the mole activity, but often such efforts are
not effective. Only treat for white grubs if they are present in
sufficient numbers and causing damage, not just to deter moles.
The use of traps is probably the most effective control method
for moles. Traps should be placed across active tunnels. Active
tunnels are usually somewhat straight and connect other tunnels
or soil mounds. Feeding tunnels tend to be meandering and winding
and commonly make a dead end without connecting with another tunnel.
Feeding tunnels are the paths where the mole traveled during feeding
and will be unlikely to be reused. Thus a trap placed across a feeding
tunnel will not usually catch a mole. Active tunnels can be identified
by mashing down a few inches of each tunnel and marking them with
a flag or stick. Moles can repair and rebuild the active tunnels
within a few days. The trap can be placed across a mashed down portion
of an active tunnel. As the mole tries to repair the tunnel, the
trap will be sprung and the mole killed by the trap. Most turf areas
will contain only one or two moles even though the tunneling may
be quite extensive. Live traps are also available to trap the animals
for transport to another area. Federal, state and local wildlife
management ordinances need to be observed whenever doing any wildlife
trapping or other controls are used.
Especially in areas where new construction and development continues
to spread into natural, undisturbed areas, wildlife such as moles
can become pests. It is important to remember, though, that the
animals probably were present in the area long before humans and
the transition is just as troublesome to them as to homeowners.
June - July 2001: Summer Mole Problems
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