How to Detect Underground Mole Tunnels

For many homeowners and property managers, moles can be a baffling nuisance when it comes to preserving a well-manicured landscape. Their subterranean tunneling can disrupt roots of plants, destroy lawns, and generally cause damage to underground utilities. If you’ve ever encountered such an unwanted guest on your property, you know that detecting their presence is crucial in order to prevent further damage. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the different methods you can use to detect underground mole tunnels and keep your landscape looking healthy and well-kept.

The Importance of Detecting Mole Tunnels

The Importance Of Detecting Mole Tunnels
As a homeowner, you may not initially think that detecting mole tunnels is a crucial task. However, the truth is that ignoring this issue can lead to a myriad of problems. Moles are small but powerful creatures that can cause extensive damage to your lawn, garden, and even underground utilities. In this section, we will explore the different reasons why detecting mole tunnels is essential. From protecting your property to preventing tripping hazards and damage to underground utilities, understanding why detecting mole tunnels is crucial will help you take the necessary steps to keep your lawn and garden in great condition. By the end of this section, you will have a clear understanding of the importance of addressing mole infestations sooner rather than later.

Protect Your Lawn and Garden

Protecting your lawn and garden from mole infestations is crucial to maintain the aesthetics and health of your outdoor space. Moles can cause extensive damage to your plants, flowers, and grass, which can become expensive to repair. Here are some ways to protect your lawn and garden from moles:

  • Identify mole habitats: Understanding the type of soil, moisture level, and vegetation that attract moles will help you prevent infestations. Check out our guide to mole habitats in your yard to learn more.
  • Remove their habitat: Since moles feed on insects, removing their food source can discourage them from digging. Make sure to keep your yard clean and free of debris that can harbor pests. Check out our guide on mole habitat removal for more information.
  • Create an unattractive environment: Moles prefer loose, moist soil to dig through, so keeping your lawn and soil drier and more compact can deter them. You can also plant vegetation that is unappealing to moles to further discourage them.
  • Protect your vegetable garden: If you have a vegetable garden in your yard, moles can cause significant damage. Consider planting your vegetables in containers or raised beds to avoid mole tunnels. You can also learn more about how moles affect vegetables and how to protect them.
  • Understand seasonal behavior: Moles can be more active during certain times of the year, so learning about their seasonal behavior can help you plan ahead and prevent infestations.

By taking these steps, you can protect your lawn and garden from mole infestations and prevent costly damage to your outdoor space.

Prevent Tripping Hazards

Preventing tripping hazards is another reason why detecting mole tunnels is important. When a mole digs tunnels in your lawn, the soil can become soft and unstable, creating a hazardous situation for walking or running. This is especially important if you have children who play in the yard.

Here are some ways to prevent tripping hazards caused by mole tunnels:

  • Regularly inspect your lawn and garden for signs of mole activity.
  • Fill in or level any areas where the soil has become raised or unstable due to mole tunnels.
  • Use caution when walking or running on your lawn if you suspect mole activity.
  • Consider installing physical barriers to prevent moles from entering your yard in the first place.

By taking these preventative measures, you can ensure that your lawn is safe and secure for your family and guests. Remember that moles are attracted to certain soil types and levels of moisture, so by addressing these underlying factors, you can also reduce the likelihood of mole infestations. For more information on mole habitats and prevention measures, check out our articles on soil types and mole habitats and moisture and mole habitats.

Avoid Damage to Underground Utilities

Underground utilities like gas, water, and electric lines can be severely damaged by mole tunnels. This can not only cause inconvenience but also pose a significant risk to public safety. It is crucial to detect mole tunnels early to prevent such damage.

Here are some ways you can avoid damage to underground utilities:

  • Regular inspections: Conducting regular inspections of your property can help you detect any new tunnels or signs of mole activity. This can help prevent damage to underground utilities.
  • Identify the location of utilities: It’s important to know the location of gas, water, and electric lines on your property. This will help you identify if any mole tunnels are near or crossing them, which can result in damage to the underground utilities.
  • Take preventive measures: If you notice any signs of mole activity, take preventive measures promptly to prevent any further damage. This can include trapping, using sonic repellents, or installing physical barriers.
  • Consult with professionals: If you are unsure about how to detect or prevent mole activity, it’s always best to consult with pest control professionals. They can assist you in identifying mole tunnels and providing effective solutions to prevent any damage to underground utilities.

Taking adequate precautionary measures can help prevent any damage to underground utilities and ensure the safety of your property. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to detecting and preventing mole activity.

Signs of Mole Activity

Signs Of Mole Activity
If you notice your lawn or garden starting to look like a war zone, with raised soil, soft spots, and wilting plants, you may have a mole infestation! But how can you be sure that moles are the culprits of this destruction? In this section, we’ll explore some common indicators of mole activity that can help you identify their presence in your yard.

Raised Soil

One of the signs of mole activity is the presence of soil that has been raised. This can happen when moles dig tunnels and push soil up to the surface. There are a few ways to detect raised soil:

  • Look for small mounds of soil – Moles create small, volcano-shaped mounds of soil as they tunnel. These mounds can be anywhere from a few inches to a foot in diameter, and are usually located in areas where the mole has been digging.
  • Feel for soft spots – If you notice an area of your lawn or garden that feels soft or spongy underfoot, it could be a sign that moles are tunneling under the surface.
  • Check for holes – You may also see small holes in the ground where moles have pushed soil to the surface. These are usually around an inch in diameter and can be scattered throughout your lawn or garden.

It’s important to note that while raised soil is a sign of mole activity, it may not always be present. Some moles create deeper tunnels that don’t push soil up to the surface, so it’s important to look for other signs of mole activity as well.

Mounds of Dirt

Moles are notorious for leaving behind telltale signs of their presence, and one of the most common indications of a mole infestation is the appearance of mounds of dirt in your yard. These mounds are created when moles excavate their tunnels, pushing soil up and out of their way. If you want to know how to detect underground mole tunnels, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for these mounds.

Here are some key features to look for when identifying mole mounds:

  • Size: Mole mounds can vary in size, but typically they are about the size of a large grapefruit. If you see multiple mounds across your lawn, it’s a sign that there are likely multiple moles at work.
  • Location: Mole mounds are often located in areas where moles are digging their tunnels. They may be clustered together or spread throughout your yard. Look for mounds in areas with loose soil, such as garden beds or areas with heavy mulch.
  • Shape: Mole mounds are typically circular or oval in shape, with a distinctive dome or crescent shape at the top.
  • Texture: The soil in mole mounds is often loose and fluffy, with no discernible root structures or debris. The mounds may also be damp or moist, as moles require damp soil to dig their tunnels.

If you notice mounds of dirt appearing in your yard or garden, take action as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Moles can cause significant harm to your lawn and garden, and their tunnels can even pose a safety hazard by creating unstable, soft spots that can cause trip or fall accidents. By identifying and addressing mole infestations early on, you can keep your yard healthy, safe, and beautiful.

Soft Spots on Lawn

Soft spots on the lawn may indicate the presence of underground mole tunnels. These soft spots are caused by the soil being disturbed by the moles as they tunnel underneath. The soil becomes loose and unable to support the weight of foot traffic or lawn equipment, leaving the ground feeling spongy or mushy.

It’s important to note that soft spots on the lawn can also be caused by other factors such as excessive watering or leaking underground pipes. However, if you notice the soft spots along with other signs of mole activity, it’s likely that moles are the cause.

To check if the soft spot is indeed caused by mole tunnels, take a shovel and dig into the affected area. Look for signs of tunnels or burrows made by the moles. If you see raised tunnels or find a network of tunnels, it’s likely that moles are the culprit.

If you confirm the presence of moles, it’s important to take action to prevent damage to your lawn and garden. There are various methods to detect and trap moles, including using a probe test, visual inspection, flooding method, trapping, or even sonar detection. It’s also important to take preventative measures to discourage moles from infesting your lawn in the first place.

Soft spots on the lawn can be a sign of underground mole tunnels. It’s important to investigate further to confirm the presence of moles and take appropriate action.

Wilting Plants

One of the signs indicating presence of moles is the wilting of plants. Moles are known to feed on plant roots, which makes them absorb less water and nutrients resulting in weakened and eventually dying plants. If you notice that your plants are wilting and struggling to grow despite your best efforts, you may have a mole infestation.

To confirm if mole activity is causing the plant wilting, perform the following steps:

  • Gently pull any wilted plants out of the soil and look at the roots for any bite or chew marks. Moles usually feed on roots, stems and leaves from underground, and the resulting damage may cause plants to die or become stunted.
  • Check the soil around the plant roots for raised soil and visible tunnels, which could indicate the presence of mole activity.
  • Try watering the plants and see if they start to recover. If the plants improve after watering, then it is likely that the wilted state was due to dehydration caused by mole activity.

Once you have confirmed the cause of plant wilting as mole activity, take the necessary steps to remove them from your lawn or garden.

Visible Tunnels

One way to detect underground mole tunnels is by looking for visible tunnels above ground. These tunnels can appear as raised ridges or bumps in the soil. Here are a few ways to identify visible tunnels:

  • Look for raised ridges or mounds of soil on your lawn or garden. These ridges can be created when moles dig tunnels to move around underground.
  • Check for soft spots on your lawn. These areas may indicate that a mole has dug a tunnel underneath the surface.
  • Pay attention to any areas where the soil appears to be sunken or depressed. This can be a sign of tunneling activity.

It’s important to note that visible tunnels may not always be present, especially if the mole is only just starting to dig in the area. In this case, other signs such as raised soil, mounds of dirt, or wilting plants may be more noticeable. However, if you do happen to catch a glimpse of a visible tunnel, it can be a helpful clue in identifying and locating mole activity in your yard.


One of the most noticeable signs of a mole infestation is the presence of molehills. These are small mounds of soil that are pushed up from the tunnels below. They can range in size from a few inches to several feet in diameter.

Molehills are formed when moles dig their tunnels and push the excess soil up to the surface. They are typically found in areas where the soil is loose and easy to dig through, such as gardens, lawns, and fields.

It’s important to note that not all raised areas of soil are caused by moles. In some cases, they can be caused by other animals or even plant roots. However, if you notice a series of small, conical mounds of soil in your yard, it is likely that you have a mole problem.

To help you differentiate between molehills and other raised areas of soil, take a closer look at their shape and size. Molehills are typically symmetrical and cone-shaped, while other raised areas of soil may be more irregular in shape. Molehills are often smaller than other types of soil mounds and may be more numerous throughout your yard.

Here is a table summarizing the key characteristics of molehills:

Characteristics of Molehills Characteristics of Other Raised Soil Areas
Symmetrical, cone-shaped Irregular shape
Small size Larger size
Numerous throughout yard Occasional or clustered in certain areas

If you notice any of these characteristics in your yard, it’s important to take action to address the mole infestation. There are a number of methods for detecting and removing moles, including visual inspection, flooding, trapping, and the use of sonar. Consider hiring a professional to assist you if you’re unsure how to proceed.

How to Identify Underground Mole Tunnels

How To Identify Underground Mole Tunnels
When it comes to detecting underground mole tunnels, there are a few different methods you can use. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and some may work better than others depending on the situation. In this section, we’ll explore some of the most common methods for identifying mole tunnels, from using a probe to visually inspecting the ground, to more advanced techniques like flooding and sonar detection. By the end of this section, you’ll have a better understanding of how to detect underground mole tunnels and choose the method that’s best for your needs.

Probe Test

One effective way of identifying underground mole tunnels is by conducting a probe test. This involves using a thin metal rod, typically made of steel or iron, to probe the soil and feel for the presence of an underground tunnel.

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a probe test:

  • Choose an area where you suspect there may be mole activity. Look for signs such as raised soil, mounds of dirt, or soft spots on the lawn.
  • Insert the probe into the soil at a 45-degree angle. Be careful not to bend or break the probe.
  • Gently push the probe into the soil until you feel resistance. This may indicate the presence of a tunnel or other obstruction.
  • Slowly twist the probe to determine its direction. If the probe moves easily in a horizontal direction, it may be following a mole tunnel.
  • Continue probing at different angles and directions to determine the size and extent of the tunnel system.

It is important to note that a probe test may not always be accurate in detecting mole tunnels, as other factors such as rocks or tree roots may cause the probe to stop. It is recommended to use a combination of methods such as visual inspection, flooding method, trapping, and sonar detection to confirm the presence of mole activity.

Visual Inspection

Visual inspection is one way to detect mole tunnels. Look for raised ridges in your lawn or garden. Moles push up the soil as they dig tunnels, leaving a raised ridge behind.

Another method is to step on the ridges, if the soil feels spongy it is more than likely a tunnel. You can also use a stick or garden tool to poke the raised ridges, if the tool goes through the soil easily, there is likely a tunnel.

If you notice areas of your lawn or garden that are softer and spongier than usual, it may be a sign of an underground tunnel.

Additionally, inspecting the soil for molehills or mounds can also determine the location of tunnels. Molehills are raised heaps of earth that are typically symmetrical and conical in shape. These appear around the tunnel entrance or exit.

Finally, keep an eye out for wilting plants or vegetation that appears to be struggling. Moles can damage plant roots when digging their tunnels, causing plants to wilt or die.

Use the table below as a summary of the visual inspection method for detecting underground mole tunnels.

Visual Inspection Method
Signs to Look for: Raised ridges, soft spots, molehills, wilting plants
Tools to Use: Stick or garden tool
Method: Poke or step on ridges to feel for sponginess and ease of soil penetration

As with any method, visual inspection does have its limitations. It may not be effective if the tunnels are deeper underground, or if there is thick vegetation covering the surface. To achieve the best results, it is recommended to use a combination of methods to detect underground mole tunnels.

Flooding Method

Another effective way to identify underground mole tunnels is by carrying out the flooding method. This method involves deliberately flooding the tunnels with water to observe where the water exits. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Locate Active Mole Tunnels: First, you need to identify the areas where mole tunnels are active. You can do so by looking out for any signs of mole activity, such as raised soil or mounds of dirt.
  • Create a Water Source: Once you’ve identified the active tunnels, place a hose in the tunnel and turn on the water supply. Be careful not to flood the tunnels too quickly; otherwise, the water will just disperse, and you won’t be able to see where it exits.
  • Observe the Exit Points: As you flood the tunnels, move to the exit points in the lawn where you expect the water to exit. Keep a close eye out for any water coming out of the ground. This can be an indication of the location of underground mole tunnels.
  • Repeat the process: Repeat this process on other suspected mole tunnels to confirm their location in your lawn or garden.

It’s essential to note that the flooding method isn’t a permanent solution, and it can damage your lawn or garden if overused. It’s best to use this method as a one-time way of identifying underground mole tunnels rather than a long-term solution.


Trapping is a humane and effective way of getting rid of moles. This method involves setting traps along the mole tunnels to capture them. The captured moles can then be released far away from your property to prevent them from coming back.

Types of Traps:

There are two main types of traps that you can use for trapping moles. The first type is the scissor-jawed trap which works by triggering a spring-loaded mechanism that closes the trap when the mole moves through it. The second type is the harpoon trap which uses sharp prongs to pierce the mole when it steps on the mechanism.

How to Set Up Traps:

To set up a trap, first, locate an active mole tunnel and clear away the surrounding soil. Next, place the trap into the tunnel so that the trigger mechanism is facing upwards. Cover the trap with a bucket or box to prevent light from entering the tunnel and scaring the mole away. Wait for a few days to check if the trap has been triggered.

When to Trap Moles:

The best time to trap moles is during the spring and fall when moles are most active. During the winter, moles tend to burrow deeper underground, making it difficult to trap them.

Precautions When Trapping:

When handling traps, always wear gloves to avoid leaving your scent on the trap, which could scare away the moles. Make sure that traps are set away from areas where children and pets play to avoid accidental triggering. Check traps daily and release trapped moles as soon as possible to prevent them from dying of hunger or thirst.

Pros Cons
– Humane method of getting rid of moles – Requires time and effort to set up traps
– Effective for controlling small populations – May not work for large infestations
– Trapped moles can be released far away from the property – May require professional assistance for proper setup

Trapping is an effective way of removing moles from your property, but it requires patience and careful setup. It’s a humane method that does not harm the moles and allows you to relocate them safely. However, it may not be the best option for large infestations, and professional assistance may be needed for proper setup.

Sonar Detection

Sonar Detection is a more advanced method of identifying underground mole tunnels. This method utilizes sound waves to detect the tunnels and is particularly useful for detecting deeper tunnels that may not be detected by other methods. Sonar detection requires specialized equipment, so it may not be a practical option for all homeowners.

One type of sonar equipment used for mole detection is ground-penetrating radar (GPR). GPR uses high-frequency radio waves to create an image of the underground environment. These waves penetrate the soil and can detect variations in density, such as tunnels or other voids.

Another type of sonar equipment that can be used for mole detection is a sonic listening device. This device is placed against the ground and emits a high-frequency sound. When the sound waves encounter a tunnel or void, they bounce back to the device, allowing the user to detect the location of the tunnel.

Sonar Detection
Sonar detection uses sound waves to detect underground mole tunnels.
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and sonic listening devices are two types of sonar equipment used for mole detection.
GPR uses high-frequency radio waves to detect tunnels and voids in the soil.
Sonic listening devices emit a high-frequency sound that bounces back from tunnels and voids, allowing the user to detect their location.
Sonar detection requires specialized equipment and may not be a practical option for all homeowners.

While sonar detection may be more effective than other methods, it is important to note that it can also be more costly and requires more skill to use properly. Homeowners may want to consider hiring a professional with experience in sonar detection methods if they are interested in this approach.

Preventing Mole Infestations

As important as it is to detect mole tunnels on your property, preventing their infestation is equally crucial. Moles can cause significant damage to your lawn and garden, creating tripping hazards and even damaging underground utilities. Fortunately, there are several preventative measures you can take to ensure these pesky diggers stay far away from your property. Here are some effective strategies that can help you keep your lawns and gardens safe from mole infestations.

Remove their Food Source or Habitat

Moles are insectivores and thrive on a diet of worms, grubs, and beetles. By removing their food sources, you can prevent moles from infesting your lawn or garden. Additionally, moles like habitat that is conducive to tunneling, such as moist soil with easy-to-dig passages. Here are some ways to remove their food source and habitat:

Method Pros Cons
Reduce Watering Frequency – Less moist soil makes it more difficult for moles to tunnel
– Saves money on water usage
– Potential harm to plants that require more frequent watering
– Does not completely eliminate mole habitat
Apply Insecticides – Kills the grubs and insects that make up moles’ diet
– Easy to apply on lawn or garden areas
– May harm beneficial insects or pollinators
– Harmful to pets and children if ingested
Remove Overgrown Vegetation – Reduces habitat and hiding places for moles
– Improves overall appearance of lawn or garden
– Time-consuming to remove overgrown vegetation
– May require professional help for very large areas
Change Lawn or Garden Design – Incorporating hardscape or raised garden beds reduces mole habitat
– Can add visual appeal to lawn or garden
– May be expensive to redesign entire lawn or garden
– Still requires ongoing maintenance to prevent mole habitat from returning

By removing the conditions that allow moles to thrive, you can prevent them from tunneling and damaging your lawn or garden. However, it is important to note that removing their food source or habitat alone may not be enough to eliminate an existing mole infestation. In those cases, additional methods such as trapping or professional help may be necessary.

Install Physical Barriers

One effective way to prevent mole infestations is to install physical barriers around areas prone to mole activity. Here are some options for physical barriers:

  • Hardware Cloth: This is a wire mesh that can be buried one to two feet below the surface to prevent moles from tunneling into an area. The mesh should be small enough to prevent moles from squeezing through.
  • Underground Fencing: This is a barrier that can be installed around the perimeter of an area to prevent moles from entering. The fence should be buried at least one foot deep in the ground to be effective.
  • Gravel: Laying down a layer of gravel beneath the soil can make it difficult for moles to tunnel through.
  • Basket-Weave Fencing: This is a type of fencing that can be installed above ground to prevent moles from entering an area. The fence should be at least two feet high and have a tight weave to be effective.

It is important to note that physical barriers must be properly installed and maintained to be effective. Any gaps or holes in the barrier could allow moles to enter the area. It is also important to monitor the area for any signs of mole activity, as moles may eventually find a way around the barrier. Using a combination of physical barriers and other prevention methods may also be necessary.


One way to prevent underground mole infestations is by using repellents. Repellents are designed to create an unpleasant environment for the moles, prompting them to leave the area. Different types of repellents work differently, so it’s important to choose the right type for your specific situation. Here are some common types of repellents and how they work:

Type of Repellent How It Works
Castor oil Castor oil is a natural ingredient that moles find unpleasant. When applied to lawns, it creates a barrier that the moles won’t cross, causing them to move to another area.
Ultrasonic Ultrasonic repellents emit a high-frequency sound that is unpleasant to moles. These devices are typically installed underground and emit a continuous sound that covers a wide area. However, their effectiveness has not been proven conclusively.
Vibrating stakes Vibrating stakes are designed to create vibrations in the ground that moles find unpleasant. These devices are installed in the ground and emit a constant vibration that spreads through the soil.
Blood meal Blood meal is a natural fertilizer made from dried animal blood. When applied to lawns, it creates an odor that moles find unpleasant, causing them to move to a different area.

While repellents can be effective in some cases, they are not always a foolproof solution. It’s important to remember that different repellents work differently and their effectiveness may vary depending on the specific situation. In some cases, it may be necessary to use multiple repellents or combine repellents with other prevention methods to ensure the best possible results.

Professional Help

If you have tried all of the above methods for detecting and preventing mole tunnels but still find yourself struggling with an infestation, it may be time to call in professional help. Mole extermination can be a challenging task, especially if you are not trained in proper trapping and removal techniques. Here are some reasons why seeking professional help is a wise decision:

  • Experience: Professional mole exterminators have the experience and knowledge necessary to locate and remove moles quickly and efficiently.
  • Proper Equipment: Mole extermination often requires specialized tools and equipment that are not readily available to homeowners.
  • Warranty: Many professional extermination companies offer warranties on their services, giving you peace of mind that the job will be done right the first time.
  • Safe and Humane: Professionals use safe and humane removal methods to avoid harming other animals or damaging your property.

While professional help can be more expensive than DIY methods, it can ultimately save you time and money in the long run by preventing further damage to your lawn and garden. Be sure to do your research and choose a reputable company before hiring them to ensure the best possible outcome.


In conclusion, detecting underground mole tunnels is crucial for protecting your lawn and garden, preventing tripping hazards, and avoiding damage to underground utilities. The signs of mole activity include raised soil, mounds of dirt, soft spots on the lawn, wilting plants, visible tunnels, and molehills. Identifying these tunnels can be done through probe testing, visual inspection, flooding method, trapping, or sonar detection. To prevent mole infestations, you can remove their food sources or habitats, install physical barriers, use repellents, or seek professional help. Ultimately, early detection and prevention methods are key to keeping these destructive creatures at bay and maintaining a healthy and beautiful lawn and garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between moles and voles?

Moles are insectivores that burrow underground and create tunnels, while voles are herbivores that create runways and feed on vegetation.

How do moles affect my lawn and garden?

Moles can uproot plants, create unsightly mounds of dirt, and damage underground utilities.

What time of year are moles most active?

Moles are active year-round, but are more active in the spring and fall.

Do mole repellents really work?

Mole repellents can be hit or miss, as they may work for some but not for others. It’s best to try a few different methods to see what works best for your situation.

Can I use poison to get rid of moles?

It is not recommended to use poison to get rid of moles, as it can be harmful to other animals and the environment.

Will a mole eventually leave my yard on its own?

Moles do not typically leave an area on their own, as they are territorial animals.

How many moles typically infest a lawn or garden?

It is not uncommon for there to be multiple moles in one area, as they can have overlapping territories.

What is the best time to trap moles?

The best time to trap moles is in the spring and fall, when they are most active.

Is there a way to prevent moles from entering my yard?

Installing physical barriers or removing their food source and habitat can help prevent moles from entering your yard.

Can moles be beneficial for the environment?

Yes, moles help aerate the soil and control insect populations, making them beneficial for the environment in moderation.