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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Have Moles?

In springtime it is almost dangerous to walk across our lawn because of all the mole tunnels. It is actually difficult to walk due to sinking into the tunnels with almost every step.

I have not used chemicals on the lawn which results in having a lot of earthworms (earthworms are said to be super sensitive to salts, thus avoid such areas). Moles are reputed to be after grubs of beetles such as Japanese beetles, but the scientific community says they eat mostly earthworms and an occasional grub.

Once the weather is hot and drier, the worms go deeper and the moles follow them, but we are still frustrated by the great amount of damage from their work.

I have read several ways to get rid of them, and some are rather bizarre, it is a matter of 'buyer beware'! It is better explained here in this article, a two page information sheet from Purdue University titled: "Mole Control - Buyer Beware" by Timothy J. Gibb, Turfgrass IPM Specialist, in which he lists several popular deterrents that do not work. Some are frequently seen listed for sale in magazines and catalogs. Others are just old wives' tales, grass roots wisdom, word of mouth hearsay, or whatever you want to call it, that get passed around from person to person that are believed to be true, but are actually fallacies.

The best information I have found is the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service's publication, Moles by Judy Loven. If the link does not work for you let me know, and I will see what I can do to help. They have changed the URL for that article at least once before, but I tracked it down. I could probably do it again for you if needed. The article covers about all you would ever need to know about moles.

We have had animals trapped, then released in other areas, but moles are a much greater challenge. They are extremely difficult to catch in any method humane or not. Husband/Best Friend/Chief Photographer thought he would take care of the problem here and proceeded to use a trap. He lasted about two days then gave up. If your lawn is completely riddled by them as ours is, and you want to know the challenge you are up against, you might be interested to see an illustration of a mole's kingdom. This link will take you to a map of the mole's world.

Hope you have better luck than I have. I still haven't been able to rid this place of moles. (I bet the fox could have.) They continue to come into my garden from the adjoining properties that were formerly farmland. Maybe someday they will be under control, but I don't think it will happen in my lifetime.

Times I wish it were all fenced and I could have a terrier. I know... terriers and gardening don't mix! ---Neither do gardening and moles.


patientgardener said...

I read some where that the gizmos from those birthday cards that play a tune drive moles mad

Barbee' said...

patient gardener (England): That is hilarious, I can just picture it!! Would make such a cute cartoon sketch. And, I could bury about 100 of them, then future gardeners digging here would keep finding them and wondering what had gone on here in the past!

inadvertent farmer said...

I just read the article you recommeded and saw the mole map. Ughhh it seems like there is no easy way to get rid or the little buggers. We used to have a dog that dug them up but his holes were worse than the moles'. I wish someone would come up with an easy, humane, and foolproof was of ridding our lawns, and more importantly our gardens of the pests. Thanks for the info!

lzyjo said...

Ugh! I hate moles, so far, our dog has only caught one mole, although he is constantly digging for them. Even the mail carriers and delivery men complain about how many are on the lawn, just from the driveway to the front steps!

Barbee' said...

inadvertentfarmer (Washington, U.S.A.)
lzyjo (Tennessee, U.S.A.):
Big SIGH! We are outsmarted by the moles, (little sigh).

Zoë said...

have never been pestered by Moles, I often wonder if having so many cats puts them off, as we do see evidence of their work on the verges near the cottage.

I wouldnt try and kill them if I had them, have a strong sense of live and let live, but on the plus side, the soil they excavate is fabulous for adding to potting compost.


Barbee' said...

Zoe (England): That is a nice way to look at it.

Cinj said...

Luckily I haven't had any mole problems here, (Is there a piece of wood I can knock on anywhere nearby?) but we've had plenty of other pest problems. Does the mole getting into my house count?MIL has terrible mole problems too. It's a yearly battle, isn't it? Is there a natural predator living in your area that might help to limit the damage?

Barbee' said...

Cinj (Wisconsin, U.S.A.): You mean one got into your house!I've never heard of that before. Maybe it got lost. There used to be a red fox that came into my yard occasionally, but someone trapped it and took it out into the country. I read about it in the newspaper and it made me just sick! One neighbor used to have a cat that would hunt them. But, both the cat and the fox are gone now, and the mole population has increased.

Balisha said...

Hi Barbee,
I have the same problem. If I go back toward the woods and don't watch the ground...I can sink in and almost fall. I have learned to watch the ground. We have neighboring cats that just lie in wait back by the woods. Husband shoos them away...I said let them be...they may be looking for moles.

Barbee' said...

Balisha (Illinois, U.S.A.): You have my sympathy!

Cinj said...

Sorry, I didn't check out the links you provided so I'm not sure what info you had in there. I was just reading an herb book and it says that Allium are supposed to repel moles. I thought of you and had to run on over to tell you. I suppose you may have already heard that though....

The one that got in the house I'm not sure how it happened. At first I thought it was a mouse, but after some reflection I thought it might have been a mole. It got into our house a second time too, but when I saw it again it was dead. I could tell it was the same one that had been in there. I blogged about it somewhere....

Barbee' said...

Cinj (Wisconsin, U.S.A.): Hmmm.. no, I had not heard that about alliums and moles. I do have some alliums; I must take notice if they go into those beds. I wonder what it would cost to encircle an acre with alliums :) I did read that someone plants alliums with her tulips to confuse the squirrels and chipmunks. So, I tried that. Can't really define the result, but I think it may have helped. However, I did notice one red tulip had been shifted over into another bed. Something with legs must have helped it.

spookydragonfly said...

We've had these tunnels show up late last summer, this spring it was very difficult to walk in that area, hoping not to twist an ankle. Seems we no longer have the problem, they've been abandoned(?). We do have five outdoor cats and two dogs. I'll have to check that link out!

Barbee' said...

spookydragonfly (Ohio, U.S.A.): I know what you mean about possible to sprain an ankle; I've been concerned about that, too. With that many pets there, maybe the moles decided to move another direction. Hope they are gone, for your sake.

Mother Nature's Garden said...

Be careful out there, Barbee. My hubby injured his back and suffered months of recuperation from accidentally stepping in a mole hole.

Roses and stuff said...

Luckily, we don't have any moles (touch wood...) - I do hope you'll get rid of them.

I'm starting up a new meme for Fridays - Blooming Friday - it would be great if you would like to participate with one or two pictures of blooming plants. I thought it would be nice to share eye-candy for the week-end... Welcome!

rochelle at sudio g said...

I have the same problem...I read about washing out a cat box and pouring it in concentric circles from you house...basically slowly drinving them away...not sure if it works...things like that just take too much time for me.

George Africa said...

Hi Barbee;

In my quest to free lawns and gardens of moles I resorted long ago to using milky spore to control the beetle population. I know that most articles including the one you cite say that moles don't eat beetles. I find that interesting because there must be some relationship due to the success I have seen using it.

Milky spore takes a couple years to build up in the soil but then the mole traffic so obvious in the spring just plain disappears. I noticed at our new nursery that this summer there was a terrible infestation of Japanese Beetles which appeared one afternoon by the bizillions just when fragrant yellow daylilies first flowered. Customers didn't really care to watch the "hatch" Last week before the ground froze I could see where moles were moving into the area which is bordered by open field and river front. Earlier I had covered a 10,000 square foot section with milky spore and expect to see the same positive result come spring. Expensive but positive.

I understand that there is a mole which lives in damp areas and perhaps that's the variety I am seeing and perhaps it does eat beetles. I have read a couple studies which have detailed to the level of mole stomach contents and grubs have been found. (Now there's a life job!)

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens
Vermont Flower Farm

Barbee' said...

mothernaturesgarden (Tennessee, U.S.A.): WOW! That is bad! I am always concerned for people (including me) that they might break an ankle; I hadn't thought about back injuries.

Roses and stuff (Sweden): I hope they never get to Sweden! Oh, Katarina, I am totally no good with deadlines, but thank you for the invitation to join your new Blooming Friday meme. If I were 20 years younger, I might. Just a few days ago I added a notice to the top of my sidebar about awards, memes, etc., saying that I have received more than my share, and that I will not be playing those games any more. There is a link to a post about me if anyone is interested. I am sure you, and your other meme members, will be posting beautiful and interesting photographs. It is interesting how that some bloggers mostly post photos, some do both photos and writing, and others (Our Friend Ben and Silence Dogood come to mind) do no photos at all and their posts are all writing. I enjoy them all; I'm sure I will peek in on yours to see your Friday posts.

rochelle at studio g (Massachusetts, U.S.A.): Too much time for me, too, Rochelle; I just don't have the patients for it. I can see how that might work for a typical size property if a person is diligent, but this place is too large for that. I'd have to wring out every cat in the state! :)

George Africa (Vermont, U.S.A.): Hi, George. I really appreciate your visit, your attention to this problem, and your time you spent to share your experience! Can't argue with success, that's for sure. Hmmm, When we first moved here in 1989, I treated the front yard with it, but I'm sure that has died out by now.

You truly have a challenge on your hands with such a large area and the "wild" areas abutting your property. Similar problem here, our moles came from the area that was a farm when we moved in.

I don't know much about the different species, but after reading the Google hits, it seems there are moles of different species on maybe every continent.

I saw photos of the Star-nosed mole that appears to be a most unusual looking fellow. He is one of the water loving moles; actually rather interesting in that he hunts underground, on top of the ground, and swims in water to hunt aquatic prey. That may be the one you have. Or, you may have more than one species (terrible thought) including the Eastern one that is here.

You mean your customers were too squeamish to enjoy the plague of beetles?! I don't blame them.

Regarding the studies you read: it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Isn't that what Post-docs are for? :)

Now let me explain a little bit of my dilemma, for you see it is true that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. I am afraid of the power of which I am capable, example: I know how to use "Dunk" (Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israaelenses called BTI) to kill mosquitoe larvae in a little pool; I know how to use Nematodes (Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, and possibly BT) that will mortally infect iris borer larvae; and, I know how to use bacteria Bacillus popilliae spores to infect grubs with Milky-spore disease bacteria. So, what is my problem?

I treasure Dragon Flies: Dragon Flies lay their eggs in the little pool. Will the "Dunk" kill the baby Dragon Flies, (the babies, that, by the way, eat the mosquito wrigglers)?

Will the Nematodes Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora stay where I put them close to the iris plants or will they migrate and join the bacteria Bacillus popilliae spores in the lawn.

If I treat the lawn with BT spores to get rid of the grubs (that attract moles), even if they do not harm earthworms as it is advertised, what will it do to my beloved Fire Flies that rise from the sod by the hundreds every evening and entertain me from June to late summer with their wondrous ethereal presence? Does anyone know?

This question of mine is buried here in a reply to George's comment. I suspect few people will see it. I think I will put it into a post in hopes it will have wider readership, and, hopefully, a knowledgeable person will help me.

Thank you, George.