Moles in the Garden
When I first saw CaddyShack I thought Bill Murray was a little off fighting that gopher because up until about three years ago we never had a gopher or a mole in our yard. That was then, this is now. MOLES! We do not have gophers in New York, we have moles. Everyday garden variety moles, garden moles. The term 'garden moles' does not mean they eat your garden, they eat insects, bugs, and worms. However, in the process of getting to their food they tunnel all over your garden and the tunnels sometimes loosen your plants and their roots and the end result is dead flowers...from garden moles. I'm thinking of calling Bill Murray to see if he has any ideas on getting rid of these garden moles.
All the work you put into preparing your soil and keeping it nice and rich attracts worms (who make your soil better) which in turn attracts moles. Seems like a lose/lose situation. We have sandy soil and it appears the mulch and soil improvements we've made over the years are successful. Our garden is beautiful and the moles love it!
Grubs are another mole favorite. They'll dig anywhere to get a tasty grub. Grubs are actually one of the mole's favorites, next to worms of course.
Moles - the blind rat
Many moles tunnel through grass as well so they are often mentioned when lawn maintenance is mentioned. The Latin name for moles is Scalapos or Scalapus aquaticus...I don't know about the aquaticus part but they are definitely scalpers of the landscape! However in reality it literally means 'blind rat'. You will rarely actually see a mole because they spend most of their time underground. They have tiny little eyes that are actually covered with skin and fur, maybe they are light sensitive as it is known that their eyes are poorly developed.
Their feet are like little shovels to help them dig their tunnels. Outcritters.com states;
Moles are able to dig up to fifteen (15) feet per hour! Digging is most pronounced when the soils are moist in the spring and fall. What happens to all that dirt? It gets pushed out of the tunnels to the surface with those wide front feet leaving a mound, otherwise known as the “Molehill”.
It's no wonder there are mole tunnels everywhere! Fifteen feet per hour is a lot of tunnel. Do we make mountains out of molehills? I think not, finding all those tunnels with their mounded molehills is enough to drive you crazy and the size seems like a mountain when its in the middle of your flower garden. Not to mention if you step in one without knowing you can get a good sprain of the ankle as it turns down into the tunnel.
Moles like wet soil; it's easier to dig and has more worms.
Moles eat 70 to 100% of their weight in food every day.
Moles will fight to the death to defend their territory.
Moles are usually about 6 inches long.
Moles have superior hearing.
Female moles give birth to a litter of up to five.
Moles are active all day and night.
Baby moles search for new territory in early summer.
Male moles are called boars and female moles are called sows.
Moles have an extra thumb next to the natural thumb.
Moles Beneficial Soil
The very worst thing I read about moles is that they are beneficial to the soil! They aerate it. I really don't care how beneficial they are I would really rather they live in someone else's yard. As a matter of fact according to wildlifetrusts.org, moles can be found anywhere except for the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly, Scottish islands, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland. Not ironically moles are mammals related to the shrew. Ironically a shrew is described as a small, mole-like mouse. Which came first the mole or the shrew (the chicken or the egg)?
I have read in several places that the soil in a molehill (or the top of the tunnel) is very beneficial soil and can be used to grow plants. Amusing factoid since I was trying to grow plants there in the first place!
Getting Rid of Moles
How do you get rid of moles? I wondered if there were any recipes for mole stew or mole soup but since I can't catch the darn things it wouldn't matter anyway, besides you'd need an awful lot of moles since they're so small. I did read they were once trapped for their furs, honest!
If you're lucky enough to have a dog that actually catches moles, read no more. If you're like me on the other hand, and have a dog that just digs up the tunnels all over your yard, you may need some hints.
There are as many products on the market to get rid of moles as there are moles. There are spikes, repellents, poisons, bait, etc. It seems the most effective is the mole trap but you have to sure to place it in an active mole tunnel. They all look active to me so I find this a little difficult to determine. Some say getting rid of grubs will get rid of moles, but what about the earthworms they eat? Do you really want to get rid of earthworms?
Here's a dandy hint from ehow.com, castor oil. Yes, I said castor oil.
- 1. Fill a 1-gallon jug (an empty milk jug works just fine) with warmwater, leaving about 2" empty at the top. You will need the extra space for the next ingredient.
- 2. Add 1/4 cup of castoroil to the water in the jug. Measure this out if you need to. You want to be sure you use enough, but not so much that you gum up your yard!
- 3. Place the cap on the milk jug and shake it gently to combine the water and oil.
- 4. Pour the castor-oil mixture on any molehill you can find. (You will need to use the entire jug, twice!)
- 5. Repeat the process (1 gallon of water with 1/4 cup castor oil on any molehill) so each molehill receives 2 gallons of water and 1/2 cup of castor oil in total. Moles hate castor oil, and will normally move away from it immediately. Try not to smile too hard if they set up camp in your neighbor's yard!
I think they are serious about this. I haven't tried it yet so I really don't know if it works. The same site recommends Bounce Fabric Softener Sheets. If, and I emphasize IF either of these work it would be great because you wouldn't be using pesticides and you wouldn't be killing the mole.
I've also read spearmint chewing gum stuck in a tunnel will scare them away - believe it or not I was gullible enough to try this and of course it didn't work. What method you use and what results you get can be very interesting. As a matter of fact, anyone reading this may be interested in something that really works. Please feel free to share any method you find that at least drives them away, in the Comments section below.
Thanks for reading and happy mole chasing.
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