JoAnne Skelly

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October 18, 2011
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Moles wreak havoc on lawns

Moles are ruining lawns and people want to know how to get rid of them. Moles' primary food sources are earthworms and insects, so at least they aren't eating the lawn. However, their activity and digging destroy a lawn's looks. The digging also damages the roots of the turf and provides freeways for other pests. Moles produce two to six young per year.

Many home remedies such as killing grubs or other lawn insects, using castor oil derivatives or ultrasonic devices are ineffective and actually allow the animals to get established while a homeowner waits for these methods to work. The moles quickly colonize and can spread to neighboring properties if not controlled.

This means they establish more tunnels which then makes it easier for them to survive and multiply.

Moles move around a lot through the year, depending on soil moisture and food supply. Disturbing them may make them temporarily leave an area, but they usually return.

They may only stay in one part of the yard for a week, which often makes some of the home remedies such as pickle juice, moth balls, human hair balls and other techniques seem as if they are working. While habitat modification, such as reducing the amount or frequency of water, may reduce their activity, trapping in spring and fall is the most effective and practical method of control.

There are three types of traps - harpoon, scissor-jaw and choker loop. For safety reasons and humane deployment, be sure to follow printed instructions. Trapping involves collapsing runs and making sure the trigger pan blocks a run securely so the mole triggers the trap when attempting to reopen the tunnel. Traps should be set in active surface burrows.

"Active runs can be located by stepping down the run, marking the location, and checking to see if the tunnel is reopened within 24 to 48 hours," according to Ohio State Cooperative Extension specialists.

The best tunnels for trapping are those the moles use several times each day.

"Look for constantly reopened tunnels that follow a generally straight line or that appear to connect two mounds or two feeding areas (branching tunnels). Main runways often will follow fencerows, walkways, foundations, or other manmade borders." The tunnels usually found in the lawn are the moles' attempts to search out new routes and may not be as useful for trapping. For more information see

JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and may be reached at or 887-2252.

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The Record Courier Updated Oct 18, 2011 05:14PM Published Oct 18, 2011 05:13PM Copyright 2011 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.