Gardening is very therapeutic but every once in a while you have to deal with adorable-looking pests like moles especially in rural areas.
They may seem cute but they can wreak havoc in your garden.
The good news is we have compiled a list of effective ways, and the not-so-effective means, to keep them at bay.
Summary section (In a Hurry?)
You can try various humane and DIY methods first.
- Use mole traps, castor oil-based formulations, natural plant barriers, and remedies.
- Mole-proof your yard by digging a trench around your yard; and placing materials in this trench that will serve as physical barriers to mole entry.
- When all else fails, hire professional mole busters.
What are Moles?
- Moles are mammals that are very similar in appearance to rats and mice.
- They have a small body about 4.4 to 6.25 inches long, tiny eyes and ears, velvety fur, large front paws, and a narrow nose like a snout.
- Although they are popularly known to be nocturnal, researchers found the opposite—they sleep in 4-hour shifts during the day and night.
- They have this peak activity when they cannot hear people or other animals moving.
Characteristics of Moles:
Moles are carnivores, feeding on bugs, beetles, grubs, and earthworms not your plants and bulbs.
Most of these mole preys are normally essential and expectedly abundant in healthy lawns and gardens.
Good garden soils, which are loose and sufficiently moist but not damp, are also ideal for moles for easy digging of their burrows.
Moles are adapted to living underground although they can also travel above ground in early spring to look for mates.
They have poor eyesight but they have sensitive hearing and reflexes. They are different from pocket gophers and voles, which are rodents.
What are the signs of moles in your yard?
You will hate the unsightly mounds of soil, holes, and raised ridges.
Mole hills or mounds appear to be similar to tiny volcanoes that is connected to an underground network of tunnels.
Moles use these tunnels to protect themselves from predators and allow them to hunt.
Patches of dead grass are also telling you that you have a mole problem.
During their digging, the roots of the nearby grass can be disrupted and cause the grass to wilt and die.
What other damages can moles cause?
Apart from the obvious unsightly mounds and the underground tunnels, the following are the other damages that moles cause:
- Moles can also disrupt irrigation systems in lawns and gardens.
- They can push stones or small rocks to the surface which can be accidentally caught on your lawn mowers or weed eaters.
- Small plants can also die because of the shift of the soil underneath them.
- Mole tunnels also make the roots of trees and shrubs vulnerable to the attack of other animals like voles and weasels.
- Moles can also carry ticks that can jump to domestic pets and other animals.
- They can also be carriers of kissing bugs that are known to transmit Chagas disease.
How to Get Rid of Moles?
- Mole Traps or Mouse Traps.
Since moles consider human scent a danger signal, this is the most recommended method.
- Put on gloves when handling mole traps to prevent your scent from adhering to the trap.
- Season your gloves before using them by rubbing dirt from a flower or vegetable bed with lots of earthworms.
- Use these gloves exclusively for mole traps and do not wash them in scented detergents to avoid scents that can repel moles.
- Use bait, earthworms, or grubs, and handle them with gloves for mole traps to lure the moles.
- Every day, moles eat 70-100% worth of food compared to their body weight and can die of starvation in a few hours.
Needless to say, you need baits to effectively use mole traps.
- Place mole traps in fresh mounds or active tunnels that you have not seen before.
Just like mouse traps, some mole traps can humanely catch these unwanted visitors, that is they remain alive in the trap.
There are also some common weapons that can kill them like harpoon traps.
- You need to check on your humane mole traps now and then because you need to remove your catch before it can catch another mole.
- You need to release them at a minimum of 5 miles away from your home if you don’t want them to return any time soon.
This is the best way for mole control according to pest control practitioners.
2. Commercial Mole Repellents.
You can buy ready-to-use formulations which can be in the form of granules, liquids, or sprays.
These normally use castor oil as the active ingredient.
The downside of this approach is again for pets, castor oil attracts dogs that may ingest soil or plants treated with castor oil and cause diarrhea.
3. Home-made Mole Repellents.
- Alternatively, you can prepare a spray by mixing ¼ cup castor oil, 6 tablespoons water, and 2 tablespoons liquid detergent.
- Blend them to a whipped cream consistency. Then use 2 tablespoons added with a gallon of water in a watering can soak damaged areas.
- Another recipe uses a gallon of water mixed with 4 tablespoons of three parts castor oil and one part dish soap mixture.
Best Time for Watering:
1. Right after a rain.
2. After a thorough garden/lawn mowing.
Other Home Remedies:
1. cayenne pepper
2. human hair
3. coffee grounds
4. fox urine crystals
5. blood meal
6. eucalyptus oil
7. mint oil
Note: Do away from using mothballs because their mole repelling property is just a myth.
All these mole repellants that use odors to deter moles are only effective and affordable in small spaces.
They also need to be reapplied every few days because light rains can wash the scent away.
4. Use plants as barriers.
You can use members of the allium family such as daffodils, marigolds, and fritillaria to protect plant roots of your vegetable garden, flower beds, and other plants the natural way.
These beautiful additions to your garden have strong smells that moles dislike. Be prepared, however, to put in the extra maintenance work.
Although castor beans can also be planted, they are considered toxic and difficult to handle.
5. Dig a trench.
- Surround your lawn and garden by a trench, 6 inches wide by 2 feet deep.
- Then, fill this with rocks or install a lining that is made of hardware cloth with holes or wire mesh.
- The sturdy materials will keep the moles from extending their tunnel system into your yard but this measure is very time-consuming.
6. Keep your backyard tidy.
Mow your lawns regularly to keep the grass short. Avoid having piles of wood and garden waste as well as thick mulching.
This will allow you to detect any mole activity easily.
7. Use ultrasonic devices.
Place them close to the tunnels as the high-pitched sound is supposed to drive moles away while remaining inaudible to humans.
However, pest control practitioners do not find these mole chasers effective especially in large spaces.
Moles have several entrances to their dens so it is easy for them to avoid and dig a new tunnel to avoid the spot where the ultrasonic unit is placed.
8. Interrupt their food chain.
Removing the moles’ main food sources is a sure-fire way to prevent them from coming back.
One such food source is grub worms. Grub worms can be permanently taken care of by applying milky spore and/or beneficial nematodes to damaged areas consistently for at least 2 years every spring, summer, and fall.
Milky spore, Bacillus popilliae, a type of bacteria that occurs naturally, is a long-term solution.
They survive winter temperatures and their population increases over time.
They reach the peak effect in the third year of application but can remain effective for 10 years or more.
Expert tip: Use castor oil treatment for an instant effect then follow-up with Milky spore.
9. You can also try blocking or flooding the mole tunnels.
These methods do not kill moles but make their tunnel maintenance too much work so they are forced to move.
These also require more effort and need to be done regularly to be effective.
You can block mole tunnels by placing a shovel behind the molehill, 2-3 cm into the tunnel.
Moles will then be forced to dig another way out. Flooding works the same way by making the tunnel muddy and impossible to run to the entrance.
Flooding, however, can ruin the beams of your house’s foundation or enter your basements.
Sinkholes can also appear on your lawns when you leave the water supply open for hours or days. Vegetables, flowers, grass, and trees that are water-sensitive can also die in the process.
Not Recommended Methods
This list contains not so humane methods and those proven to be less effective.
- Use poison mole baits.
This will smell and look like a treat for them, similar to earthworms. Place them in mole holes so that when they eat them they will die in their tunnel.
Just take precautions to cage your pets as these baits also attract and kill cats and dogs.
- Shooting the moles.
One pellet fired from a shotgun is enough to kill a mole.
However, they must be aimed at the ground and can therefore sever water lines, gas lines, telephone lines, and cable connections.
The noise can also create a commotion and lead to having to explain to the police especially when done at night.
For this, usually, worm shockers are used.
Mild electric shocks are designed to drive worms from the underground then strong electric shock awaits to kill them on the surface.
The biggest downside to this is it can electrocute people, not just moles, especially if the ground gets wet.
- Using car exhaust fumes.
Vehicle exhaust can be directed to the mole tunnel in an attempt to kill them.
Moles are adapted to survive carbon dioxide in the exhaust but carbon monoxide can kill them.
The problem is the exhaust usually drifts upward and carbon monoxide can also kill people.
As a last resort or you are not just into doing it yourself, look for a reputable pest control professional to manage your mole problems.
Some mole baits that are non-toxic to pets and children are only available to them. And you can always bank on their years of experience in keeping the moles away.
- What is the fastest way to get rid of moles in your yard?
Use mole traps, castor oil-based mole repellents, poison baits, and get rid of the moles food source like grubs, crickets, and earthworms.
You can also contact a pest control professional to do the job for you.
- How do I get rid of mole’s in my yard without killing them?
The most humane way to get rid of moles is to use natural methods such as planting daffodils, marigolds, and/or alliums in your yard.
The smell of these plants discourages them from going near your flower beds and vegetable gardens.
There are also available traps that will not kill them upon catching and give you a chance to release them elsewhere.
- What is a home remedy to get rid of moles in your yard? How do you naturally get rid of moles? What is the best product to get rid of moles in your yard?
For instant results, add four tablespoons of a solution containing three parts castor oil and one part dish soap to a gallon of water. Use these to soak fresh mole tunnels.
You can then follow up with milky spore or beneficial nematodes for a much long-term approach.
- What can I spread on my yard to get rid of moles?
There are several options for you to spread in your yard to get rid of moles. What you do is spread materials that have scents that mole hate.
You can try sprinkling cayenne pepper, human hair, coffee grounds, fox urine crystals, blood meal, eucalyptus oil, and mint oil.
- Do coffee grounds keep moles away?
The smell of coffee grounds put off moles. Moles have a very sensitive sense of smell and would stay away from areas that reek of coffee.
- What smells do moles hate? What do moles hate the most?
Moles hate the scent of castor oil, coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, eucalyptus oil, and mint oil. They also dislike marigolds, daffodils, and alliums.
There are several ways to manage the mole problem on your yard.
You can always choose to go the more humane and natural ways first and go for the more aggressive or costly means later such as hiring a professional pest control team.