Moles and Raised Grass Trails In Lawns

It's not too hard to realize when a lawn mole has invaded your yard. You will see your once pristine lawn look like a trail of raised grass with volcanic dirt mounds at the end. For many homeowners, controlling or getting rid of a lawn mole can become an actual battle between the insectivorous mammal and man. So how do you get rid of moles?

Before I get into the different “get rid of that #%@& mole” methods that man has tried, I would like to give you an insight into the mole’s appearance, his eating habits and his lifestyle. This will help you to better understand why certain methods of getting rid of your lawn mole may not be working.

The Mole

An adult mole is a small insectivorous mammal weighing approximately four ounces. He lives chiefly underground, has velvety fur, a small mouth opening, with very small eyes and strong forefeet for throwing dirt out of his hole.

The mole's food source comes from the soil. He will devour daily, insects, spiders and earthworms that are equivalent to his body weight. This mammal would be a good friend to man, if it did not have to dig to satisfy his enormous appetite.

A mole, in his quest for food can dig up your soil at a rate of 12 to 15 feet per hour. Moreover, if you have an acre of land, you can assume he is not alone. Usually the average mole population per acre is three to 5 moles. Sad to say, their benefits of eating soil insect pests and improving the soil do not outweigh the damage your lawn will see in the short run, which may include the yellowing of the grass, the sinking in of your ground as you walk, the ugly runners and the dirt mounds.

In the end, the lawn caregiver only wants one thing; they want to get rid of the moles in their yard? So how do they do it?

Hit or Miss Methods of Getting Rid of Moles

As you will see, some of the methods tried are crude, dangerous, and ineffective, with only several that actually work.


Shovel/Hammer Method

The shovel/hammer method requires a good eye, quick reflexes, lots of patience, and for some a can of beer.

Your job is to take a seat, and with a beer in hand, periodically scan the lawn for signs of a mole. An indication that a mole is present is by inspecting the trail for movement. If you find any movement of grass, you can assume the mole is working at the end of the trail. You will need to place the shovel an inch behind the mole's working area, toss the mole in the air and hit it with the shovel or hammer.

This method only works periodically, or at best, with pure luck. If the individual has been drinking beer, you can assume accuracy, agility and a good eye is loss. In some cases, an unexpected accident could result.


Chewing Gum Solution

Chewing Gum Solutions for moles is not a viable method.Though many people have tried this method, it does not work. Since the mole has such narrow mouth parts, it probably not even capable of biting into a piece of gum. Furthermore, I really cannot imagine that the odor emitted by the chewing gum is strong enough to stop the mole from digging, alone causing it to leave.


Gasoline in Hole

Pouring gasoline in the mole's hole is more dangerous for man than the mole. And, you’re not sure of the contamination in the ground from the gas. It does not work.


Cats and dogs

Some cats and dogs are good molers. I had a cat that was my husband's mole and rabbit catcher. He was quicker than lightning when he was young. Nevertheless, as he got older, he became more interested in being a lap cat. Cannot blame him.

We now have a schnauzer. She does go after the mole, but she did not want to give up the chase, which meant she would stand for hours staring at the mole hole. We finally eliminated mole duty for our dog when the holes and mounds that she made were comparable to that of the mole's mounds.


Mothballs in Tunnel

Some people have put mothballs in the mole's tunnel. Before you put your first bunch of mothballs down in the mole’s tunnel, realize this, a mole will avoid the smell. To avoid the smell, he will leave by building a tunnel in a new direction. Remember, they can dig 10 to 15 feet of new tunnel in an hour.


Poison Baits

Most of the poison baits for moles that are out on the market, are really aimed at mice. Yes, you may read that it is good for mice and moles, but a mole is not in the same family as a mouse. Since a mole eats grubs, earthworm and insects, you can assume they are not much on eating peanuts that is in most poisonous baits.


Tunnel Flooding

It is possible that you can flood the tunnel of the mole, but you have to remember that they have already thought ahead, and have made escape routes.


Castor Oil Mixture

A castor oil mixture for getting rid of moles only works as a repellant. Once the scent of the castor oil mixture goes away, the mole will be back. If you want to try the castor oil mixture solution, here is the recipe:

Castor Oil Mixture for Moles

Combine the following:

1. 6 ounces of castor oil

2. 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent in 1 gallon of water

Mix well. Then dilute to spray on the entire lawn at a rate of 1 ounce per gallon of water.


Two Methods That Effectively Controls Moles

According to the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory, two methods do effective control moles:

(1) Use bait that the mole will consume. A fairly new bait that has proven effective, is a bait that offers an attractive smell and taste in the form of a worm, and with Bromethalin (the active ingredient that poisons the mole) it makes for a lethal cocktail for the mole. I can verify that this method does work.

(2) Physically remove them with mole traps. Two effective mole traps that you can use are the scissor trap and the harpoon trap.

  • A mole scissor trap works better in subsurface or deep mole runs.
  • A harpoon trap works best when the tunnels are near the surface.


Whether you are using traps or worm-shaped bait, placement is critical. You will have to observe the mole runs, and place the bait or trap in the run that the mole uses regularly. Look for the run that is in a straight line, that will be his regular run. The squiggly tunnels are runs generally used for food foraging.

To conclude, you know now that there is light at the end of the tunnel, not so much for the mole, but for you. Granted, it may cost you a little to get rid of those annoying insectivorous mammals, the lawn moles, but if you want a manicured lawn once again, it is worth it. Don't you think?

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