How To Get Rid of Moles in Your Yard and Garden with Natural Methods

The Mole: Never a Lender Nor a Burrower Be...
The Mole: Never a Lender Nor a Burrower Be... | Source

"True Moles" are small cylindrical mammals that live an underground lifestyle in gardens and lawns of North America, Europe and Asia. Unrelated mammals ("false moles") with some similar characteristics are incorrectly identified as moles in Africa and Australia.

If you have watched cartoons about this little creature you probably think they have no eyes-- but they do, only almost invisibly small, as are their ears. Contrary to popular wisdom, moles are not interested in eating plant roots but in getting at the earthworms that also inhabit the underbelly of lawns and gardens.

Because of their displacement of soil with their massive and strong 6-fingered paws, they are considered lawn and garden pests. Understandably, home- and business-owners contending with disheveled yards look for a way to get rid of the varmints and return their yards to their former order. Some of the methods of dealing with this pest are related in this article.

Scalopus Aquaticus: A most unattractive creature
Scalopus Aquaticus: A most unattractive creature | Source

Traditional Methods Used To Get Rid of Moles

The following are some historical methods that have been used to get rid of moles:

  • Ancient Romans are said to have buried earthenware pots in gardens, filled with water, to lure and possibly drown moles.
  • In post-Victorian England, Edward the VII's wife, Alexandra, had a dress designed that required several hundred of the soft and pliable dyed mole pelts thereby launching a fashion trend that helped stem the out-of-control mole population in Scotland. (This pest-to-fashion-statement technique had earlier worked to eradicate beavers and buffalo in Canada.)
  • Itinerant "mole-catchers" traveled from farm to farm in the British Isles, and were paid in food and lodging to catch moles. They would sell the soft mole-skin pelts for cash, often to plumbers who would use the soft 'cloths' to wipe (finish) the 'joints' in their lead pipes.
  • In the early days of mole-catchers, there was probably a reliance on wood, steel, and clay traps (clay did not carry human scent and was a preferred medium for traps). Smoking the moles out of their "galleries" or flooding them out were two methods to catch them. When they emerged they were usually stabbed (or similarly dispatched) by the mole-catchers, who got a small sum from the farmer and more from the plumber or whoever else bought the pelts.
  • The use of poisons and chemical pesticides became more common in the 20th Century, with 'pest control managers' ('exterminators') taking over from the traditional mole-catchers. While the poisons, such as strychnine, killed the moles faster than the more traditional methods, by the later 20th Century there was an awareness of the adverse impact of such poisons on the environment in general. Poisons like strychnine were removed from the market, but fumigation with aluminum phosphate is still allowed when overseen by a licensed exterminator.

A Little Humour To Help The Situation (?)

Moles and "Natural" Pest Management Techniques

Here are some techniques for dealing with moles and mole hills in as natural a way as possible:

  • High quality Nitrogen Gas can be used to exterminate the moles without affecting the environment adversely. An exterminator can do this.
  • If you have the attitude that grass (lawn) is just a 'green desert' and are willing to look at other ways of using your property in a less conventional "pretty" way, you might want to learn to remove the aerated soil on top of the molehills and use it to grow food plants. You would thus leave the underneath "gallery" or burrows of the mole, allowing the mole or the labour (a group of moles) to continue to go about eating the earthworms and grubs from under your yard.
  • Kitty litter and blood meal has been said to drive moles out of their burrows. But chances are they will just burrow into the neighbour's yard and come back to yours again later.
  • On one forum about rat terriers it would seem that they have a natural dislike of moles and will dig them up and kill them. This, of course, makes more trenches, and there is the issue of little corpses being mauled and deposited around the yard as well.
  • A sonic stake is another method being explored with variable success-- some people state that this method (the emission of a very high penetrating sound that irritates the animals and compels them to try to get away from the sound quickly) works beautifully and some state that it doesn't.
  • A bio-organic mole repellent works to coat the earthworms in your yard so that when the mole eats them they taste unpleasant and disrupt the mole's digestion. Presumably the mole will go off (to your neighbour's yard?). It seems that a neighbour doing the same as you is a pretty good assurance of continuing in harmony with your neighbour as well as the rest of your environment. This particular repellent (not harmful to pets or your children) is called "Liquid Fence for Moles". They promise that if it is not 100% effective you can return it and have your money refunded.

Certain "modern" agricultural perceptions present an over-abundance of moles as a great threat to safety (citing molehill contamination for outbreaks of listeria and a decrease in crop yields). On the other hand, permaculture advocates argue that the proliferation of moles is indicative of a shortage of 'checks' on this mole over-population (decreased natural predator populations, etc.) that are likely the result of "modern agriculture" having knocked the balance off with its too zealous desire to 'control' the environment with fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, GMO seeds, etc.

Today's permaculturist is apt to see the molehill as a source of well-aerated soil for a great vegetable garden.As most of us laypeople gain more understanding about the somewhat mysterious harmonious interplay in our environment it is possible to reframe what was traditionally seen as "damage" as something natural to the little creatures that created this assault on our comfort level. Granted, moles are not the most endearing animals, but they do not gnaw into your basement, as rats are capable of doing. They also do not attack your kids, like your neighbour's dog might, nor do they hack into your online accounts, as your neighbour's kid might.

I guess we each have the choice of whether we want to "make a mountain out of a mole hill" or just look for some method of living more co-operatively with the moles.

References:

Moles, Molehills, and Mole-catchers in Wikipedia

"Gas Out Moles" http://www.rtbot.net/gas_out_moles

Rat Terriers vs. Moles http://www.rat-terrier.com/Home/tabid/37/forumid/3/postid/434619/view/topic/Default.aspx



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Comments 31 comments

Civil War Bob profile image

Civil War Bob 4 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

Well done hub, techygran. I've watched the effects of moles for 26 years as a grounds guy, taking the Redneck Approach...they're not as ugly as grubs and they aerate the soil, so let the little critters go! I liked the 'green desert' bit particularly!


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

Thanks so much for your comments Civil War Bob! I'm quite sure the "Redneck Approach" would not have been happy-times for you, sensitive guy that I intuit you are! I can only imagine how very frustrating it must be to have to deal with them over and over for 26 years...


Civil War Bob profile image

Civil War Bob 4 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

Well, techgran, there are some battles you just know you can't win, so you save your energy and go cut down a dead tree! ;0)


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

profound my friend... thank you!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

I don't ever remember having moles in my parent's yard up north nor down here in the south. However, in one of my mother's former homes located near a green belt area, she quite regularly got her lawn dug up by armadillos. Not much to do in that case except fill in the holes with more dirt. Voted interesting, useful and up.


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

Hi Peggy, thanks for sharing...it only goes to show that there are all manner of rather unattractive little critters out there, but I'm like your Mom... I'd just fill in the holes and get on with my life (hoping never to actually see the hole-makers, of course). And thank you for the votes!


debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 4 years ago from Greece

My Father in law used to have a hard time with moles. Just when he thought he had eliminated them, he would wake up to find yet another mole hill in the middle of his tended lawn. I think in the end he excepted them and just used to spread the mole hill soil over his grass as it is good soil.

I like the more human ways of keeping moles away,like the liquid fence for moles or the sonic stick.

I found your hub interesting and it reminded me of my Father in law.

Voted up and shared


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

Hey Debbie, thanks for your thoughtful comments-- I love that the topic brought up memories of your father-in-law. And I agree with promoting a humane approach. I also was interested to read that the mole hill dirt is somewhat 'improved' soil...


debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 4 years ago from Greece

Hi techygran, my Father in law always said the soil was good because the moles had brought it up from the depths so it had more goodness in then the soil at the surface. He also liked it because it is very fine soil where the moles had broken it down, so that they could shift it. He could have been wrong, I don' know.


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

I like what your father-in-law believed, Debbie... makes sense that moles would be like little critter rotatillers, doesn't it? And the good stuff on the top would be mixed around a little deeper by their burrowing... I'm going with that! Thanks again!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Oh those nasty little moles eat the bottom bark off our new trees. We use to have two little poodles and they could hear the moles. They would watch the ground and when the mole poped up they had him in a flash.

Very good hub and good information.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

You've done your homework on moles. I agree there really isn't any way to get rid of them. My problem is the sprained ankles from stepping into unseen holes left by the moles and the dead flowers as they dig by to get the worms, however, it looks like they're here to stay. Voted up and useful.


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England

I have had a mole problem in my vegetable patch for a couple of years now. I don't mind them digging up the soil - that's quite useful, but I'm not too happy when they uproot the plants. We have tried the sonic contraption - the first day after we installed it there were about a dozen mole-hills all around it where they had obviously been confused by it! We have left it in place, but it doesn't really seem to be doing its job. I don't want to kill them, and don't use any poisons in my garden, so I guess I'm just going to have to learn to live with them :)


DanaTeresa profile image

DanaTeresa 4 years ago from Ohio

Great Hub. Very interesting. I love the history lesson as much as the modern day tips.

I have always had a huge mole problem in my yard. I never really see their hills, but the tunnels are everywhere. I sink in them when I walk in the yard, the lawnmower sinks in them. It is annoying and it rips up the yard, but I just let the little guys be.....

A joke about moles:

One day Pappa Mole stuck his head out of the hill and said "My, what fresh Spring Air!"

Mamma Mole joined him "You are right. How refreshing!"

Well Baby Mole couldn't quite squeeze up between them. He exclaimed: "I don't know what you two are talking about. All I smell is molasses!"

[Lousy and a bit off color I admit. It is something I heard as a child and it has stuck with me all these years!]


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 4 years ago from Southern Clime

Several years ago I read a HELPFUL HOUSEHOLD HINTS book that recommended hot pepper pods to get rid of moles. I think it advised dropping a pod or two directly into the mole hill. I have not had problems with moles and never tried peppers.


DanaTeresa profile image

DanaTeresa 4 years ago from Ohio

I have heard of putting bubble gum down the holes. But I don't know if that works either.


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

thanks Moonlake for your comments... sounds like poodles should be on the list of ways to get rid of the little offenders! :)


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

Thank you Tillsontitan for your feedback-- my sympathies to you for the sprained ankles and dead flowers!


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

Hello Imogen... your mole problem sounds most unsettling-- good for you for being able to 'let go' and just learn to live with them! Quite often that letting go signals the beginning of a magical solution... hope so! Thank you for yoru comments!


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

oh Dana, your joke is hilarious! I'm saving it up to tell my granddaughters when I next see them (I think ;p ) Thanks for your kind words!


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

Levertis, thanks for the extra idea for dealing with these little varmints... I've heard about a similar remedy for keeping cats out of one's garden (only, sprinkled cayenne vs. the pepper pods). I'm sure it would be worth a try!


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

Dana, now there's a novel idea! I wonder what the rationale is behind the suggested bubble gum remedy? Sticking their chewing parts together so they can't eat worms and just give up and move somewhere else? Maybe they take up blowing bubbles and sort of drift off into bubblegum nirvana, not bothering with the worms/digging anymore, forever stoned on bubblegum? hmm. Would be interesting... or, hey, are you pulling my leg??


DanaTeresa profile image

DanaTeresa 4 years ago from Ohio

techygran - about the gum. not pulling your leg at all! something aboutthem not being able to digest it and it blockd them up, fatally. if that is the case it doesn't sound terribly humane. i like your theories better! i am going to look into it when i have some time, to see if its just an urban legend.

glad you liked my little joke. i was told it when i was only about 8 or 10 and i have never forgotten it :o)


techygran profile image

techygran 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

okay Dana, thanks for the food for thought-- and when/if you do the research, do you want to come back here to report? I'd appreciate that! If there is really something to the bubblegum theory, humane or not, there will be desperate mole-challenged people reading this who might be interested in following through. Cheers!


techygran profile image

techygran 3 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

Thiago DaLuz, there is no accounting for the tastes of the rich and narcissistic... the same silliness that drove the desire to have clothing made from moles' skins has also rendered various reptiles and African wild cats almost extinct. Thanks for your comments!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

You would think with 5 cats outdoors that I would not have this problem, but they are old, lazy, well-fed cats who apparently enjoy watching my yard be eaten through by these pesky critters. I might try the sonic stake, hoping my cats cannot hear it. Good hub. Voted up and more, and shared.


techygran profile image

techygran 2 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

FlourishAnyway-- I hope the stake works to keep the moles at bay... thank you for your kind words & actions!


wilderness profile image

wilderness 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

My mother (a gardener of 70+ years) swears by putting juicy fruit gum in the holes. Says they like the smell and sweet taste but it plugs up their digestive system, killing them.

I've tried it with some success, but it doesn't always work (are they just not finding it?). I guess the sonic stake will be my next effort.


techygran profile image

techygran 2 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

thanks for dropping by wilderness... juicy fruit gum? I haven't chewed that since childhood but heard someone mention it just a couple of weeks ago as a great car fragrance.

I hope the sonic stake works against your moles! ~Cynthia


Besarien profile image

Besarien 9 months ago

I just made friends with all my moles and gave them names. Then I buried their little bodies when our neighborhood cats killed them. The same thing happened when a family of rats moved in one winter tunneling under our gardening shed. It was a hard winter, so we were feeding them (and everything else out there) with seed and kitchen scraps for a while. My son called this "measuring the precipitation" as code, because you can't talk about feeding rats in front of company. Then spring came. The cats got let out. There are just too many outdoor cats in our neighborhood for any kind of mole or rodent activity to persist.


techygran profile image

techygran 9 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada Author

Wow, I'm speechless... while I can't imagine myself actually killing rats or moles, I don't think I would feed them, or not directly! I think you have copped on to a most effective and natural way to keep the rodent population down! Your feeding and befriending them reminds me of a friend who feeds crows in his community and has also not broken the code, I'm pretty sure. Thank you for sharing your ideas! ~Cynthia

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