Moles are difficult to control. After vegetable gardening for many years this is my first experience with these pesky little critters. I am learning that moles are a challenge and the one word people use mostly with controlling them is eradicate. Trying to co-exist with moles can be challenging as they can make a grand mess of a newly mowed lawn and they love tunneling in the greenhouse. The following will explain what I am doing to live and let live, and accept the fact that they were here first.
A Little Information on Moles
- Only live 2 – 3 years naturally
- Live their entire life within 500 – 600 feet of where they were born
- They are a solitary animal except at mating season (February & March)
- Their main food choice is earthworms followed by insects, sow bugs and spiders
- An adult mole eats about 20 worms a day
- A mole’s diet is quite strict and usually does not include vegetables
- They are very territorial and will attack newcomers
- A regular house lot will only be home to 2 moles at a time – although I am not sure anyone has told the moles this
The Perfect Mole Environment
- Our vegetable garden is basically organic with no chemical sprays used
- Four large compost bins are perfect for growing many healthy earth worms (by the thousands)
- The garden soil is easy to dig in
- There is shade and cool from the many trees around the garden
- The sloped garden, does not flood, but has deep soil beds
- The gardens are mulched and moist all year
- The concrete flower garden borders and wood walls provide easy routes for tunnelling underneath
- We have no outside pets, especially a dog, to chase them away. (Both our neighbours have dogs)
- Our neighbours use chemicals on their lawn which is not conducive to a healthy earth worm lifestyle
- The large green belt behind the garden, I imagine, has a long waiting list for moles, ready to move in when our resident moles die by natural causes
Animal challenges in the garden:
A lot of garden damage attributed to the mole is actually damage from rodents such as mice and squirrels, rabbits and other animals.
- They are very good swimmers and there is no point trying to flush them out of their tunnels with constant water from the hose, and then move them. We did this many years ago when our children were young. They enjoyed the relocation experience – the children that is – but it required a large amount of water
- Some people evidently shoot moles which created a puzzle for me as it is illegal to discharge firearms in most subdivisions
- They are smart and can detect poisons and avoid them
- It is impossible to dig them up as sometimes their tunnels, or especially their nests, can be 3 feet underground.
- The only permanent way to control moles is to trap (and kill) them. The down side to this is as you keep killing moles, more moles just move in. The pest control companies will visit your home each month, for an annual fee, set traps and come back the following month to remove the dead moles and reset the traps. We did speak to a “mole man” about this method of eradication and he said “it is quick and effective”. Moles are not on anyone’s endangered species list so their removal from thousands of yards is not noticed.
- Last fall we covered our front lawn with a 1/4 – 1/2 ” layer of relatively fresh crumbly chicken manure. We noticed that in the past 4 – 5 months there have been no new mole earth mounds or tunnels in the front yard.
- I read recently that putting fresh dog poop down a mole hole will discourage the moles. That I can believe. We no longer have a dog and I frankly would not wish to put their excrement in my vegetable garden. But we do have access to fresh organic chicken poop.
- So I plan to substitute organic chicken poop for dog poop and see what happens. This is going to be my spring experiment – before all the little baby moles appear in Spring.
Rodale / USA Fish & Wildlife Mole Control bulletin
Whatever you decide if you have a mole problem, do not use poisons of any sort as toxic chemicals are not a good idea to use in your home vegetable garden around children, pets, birds and frogs, and your food.
More suggestions on Control:
Strong smells such as orange peels and strong-smelling scents when placed inside a mole tunnel may deter moles. Also moles appear to dislike the smell of a plant called caper spurge (Euphorbia lathyrus) so try it in your garden. Dirty cat litter was another suggestion to put down a mole tunnel, but I prefer not to put this in the veggie garden.
Plastic toy windmills throughout the garden may deter moles from the noise they make in the wind. Place in ground at regular intervals in your garden. An ultrasound electronic device may also deter moles and other small animals.
Links & References:
- Update: October 2017 – It may be wishful thinking but mole activity appears to have greatly decreased in the past year since using coffee grounds mulch in the gardens. Cats don’t seem to like it either. A bonus!
- Gardening Hints & Tips, P. Greenwood, Dorling Kindersley, 1996
- Mole Control – Washington State Trapper’s Association, 1995
- Handbook of Natural Insect & Disease Control, Rodale Press, 1992
Contrary to popular belief, moles do not eat the roots and bulbs of flowers and vegetables… However, the tunneling activities of moles may disfigure lawns and gardens