Are you finding unsightly mounds of earth in your lawn or garden, accompanied by wilted or dead plants? Perhaps you’ve even spotted a strange critter tunneling through your yard. If this sounds familiar, you may be dealing with a mole infestation. These subterranean rodents are a common nuisance for homeowners, wreaking havoc on lawns and gardens with their tunneling habits. But why exactly do moles dig tunnels, and what kind of damage can they cause? In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of mole behavior and discuss effective methods for controlling their infestations. So, if you’re ready to bid these pesky creatures adieu, read on!
Why Moles Dig Tunnels
As gardeners and homeowners, we invest a significant amount of time and money in creating a beautiful outdoor space. So, it can be perplexing and frustrating to see the destructive nature of moles as they dig tunnels all over our lawns and gardens. Understanding why moles dig these tunnels and the harm they can cause is crucial to finding effective solutions. Let’s explore the biology behind why moles dig tunnels and how it relates to the damage they cause to our outdoor spaces. To discover how to prevent and repair mole damage to your lawn and garden, check out our article on Preventing Mole Damage: Tips and Tricks.
What Moles Eat
Moles are known for being insectivores, which means that they survive on a diet that is based on insects. They have an incredible appetite and can eat up to 80% of their body weight daily. Their diet is rich in protein, which is essential in maintaining their energy levels and body size. And since they are subterranean creatures, they mostly feed on soil-dwelling insects such as grubs, ants, beetles, and earthworms. In this way, they benefit the soil by controlling the population of such insects.
Below is a list of some insects that moles feed on:
|Moles find grubs particularly delicious. Hatched from beetle eggs, grubs have a soft body that is easy to swallow.
|Moles also feed on ants, which are easily found in the shallow topsoil. They use their strong smell sense to detect them.
|Adult beetles are not a common food source for moles, but their white, juicy larvae are a tasty snack.
|Earthworms form the bulk of a mole’s diet. They can eat several dozen of them in a day. Moles are also known for pinning earthworms down and returning to eat them later.
|Most species of moles eat caterpillars and other soft-bodied larvae. They also consume the larvae of nuisance insects like cutworms and webworms which can be beneficial to lawns and gardens.
Despite being insectivorous, moles are opportunistic eaters and will consume snakes, spiders, and even small rodents like mice and voles.
Want to learn more about how moles damage lawns and gardens? Check out this article.
How Moles Hunt
Moles are insectivorous animals and are known to be carnivorous. They eat insects, larvae, and worms. Moles hunt primarily by using their sense of smell, touch, and hearing, rather than their eyesight, which is poorly developed. They use their strong front claws and long, cylindrical bodies to dig through the soil and make tunnels in search of their prey.
Moles are known to consume food that is equal to their body weight in less than 24 hours. This constant need for food is one of the reasons why moles are so active in their search for food. They feed on various creatures that live in the soil, including earthworms, insects, and their larvae. They use their keen sense of smell to detect the movement of their prey underground, before using their front paws to dig a shallow tunnel beneath the surface.
To better understand how moles hunt, consider the following table:
|The mole uses its sense of smell to detect the location of prey.
|The mole digs a shallow tunnel just below the surface of the soil using its front paws.
|The mole moves along the tunnel and listens for vibrations that could indicate the presence of prey.
|If the mole detects prey, it quickly digs a deeper tunnel to reach it.
|The mole kills its prey with a bite to the neck or head and eats it immediately.
Although moles can be a nuisance when they wreak havoc on your lawn or garden, it is important to remember that they are simply following their natural instincts to hunt for food. Understanding their hunting techniques can help you to better understand their behavior and to take steps to prevent damage to your lawn or garden.
To learn more about preventing mole damage, check out our article on Preventing Mole Damage: Tips and Tricks.
How Moles Use Tunnels to Benefit Their Lifestyle
Moles are known for their intricate tunnel systems that can span across a large area of land. These tunnels are not only a way for them to hunt for food and raise their young ones, but they also provide numerous benefits to their lifestyle.
One of the primary ways that moles use their tunnels to benefit themselves is for shelter and protection. The tunnels create a safe and secure environment for them to reside in, helping to protect them from predators and harsh environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures and rainfall.
In addition to providing safety and shelter, the tunnels also serve as a means of transportation for the moles. The intricate network of tunnels allows them to move easily and quickly throughout their territory without exposing themselves to potential danger.
The tunnel system also plays a significant role in the reproduction of moles. The tunnels provide a secure and private area for them to mate and raise their young ones. The moles typically give birth to their offspring in underground chambers located in the tunnel system, where they are protected and can grow without being exposed to predators.
It is noteworthy that moles’ tunnels also provide significant benefits to the ecosystem. These animals help in the aeration of soil, which can help other organisms living under the earth’s surface thrive. The tunnels also aid in water drainage, which is essential in areas with high rainfall.
However, when mole populations grow excessively, their tunnel systems can cause considerable damage to the lawn and garden. It is essential to take early action to prevent mole damage and employ measures to control their population. Natural methods, such as planting daffodils or garlic, can act as natural repellents for moles. Additionally, trapping, proper lawn care, and ensuring the elimination of their food sources are other effective strategies to minimize mole damage.
Signs of a Mole Infestation
As you gaze upon your luscious green lawn or beautiful garden, you may begin to notice some peculiarities. Small mounds of soil or raised ridges might appear in certain areas. Plants that were once flourishing may be looking a little worse for wear. Your initial reaction might be one of perplexity, but don’t panic. These can all be signs of a mole infestation. Moles are common garden pests and can cause significant damage to your lawn and garden if left unchecked. But before you dive into various methods of control, let’s first identify the tell-tale signs of a mole problem. Here you can read more about do’s and don’ts of repairing damage caused by moles to your lawn and garden.
One of the most obvious signs of a mole infestation in your lawn or garden is the appearance of molehills. These are small mounds of earth that are created by the moles as they dig their tunnels. The molehills are typically circular and range from 3 to 8 inches in diameter.
Molehills can be found in clusters or scattered around the yard. They may be more prevalent in areas where the soil is loose and easy to dig through. The size and frequency of molehills can vary depending on the number of moles that are present and the amount of digging that they are doing.
While molehills can be unsightly and make it difficult to mow the lawn, they can also cause more serious problems. When the soil from the molehills is left on the surface, it can prevent air and water from reaching the roots of the grass, which can lead to wilted or dead plants. The displaced soil can cause the appearance of a swollen lawn which can make it difficult to walk or play on.
It is important to note that not all mounds of earth in your lawn are caused by moles. Other animals, such as squirrels and chipmunks, can also create small holes in your yard. However, these animals will usually leave a larger hole or opening than a mole would. Their holes are typically located near trees or shrubs where they are collecting food or nesting.
If you have determined that the mounds in your lawn are indeed caused by moles, it is important to take action to control the infestation. There are several methods of control, including natural remedies, mole repellents, and traps.
One of the signs of a mole infestation is the appearance of surface runways. These are pathways that moles use to travel from one part of the lawn or garden to another. They are typically about two inches wide and can be seen as raised ridges on the surface of the ground.
These surface runways are created by the mole as it digs tunnels underneath. As the mole digs its tunnel, it pushes the soil up to the surface, creating these raised ridges. The tunnel can be as deep as 10 inches in some cases, but usually, they are only a few inches deep.
Surface runways can be identified by the fact that they are usually straight and will not change direction. They can also be identified by the fact that there are no mounds of dirt present as there are with molehills. This is because the mole is simply pushing the soil up and out of the way as it digs the tunnel and the surface runway.
It’s important to note that surface runways are not damaging to the lawn or garden themselves, but they are a sign that moles are present and actively digging tunnels. If left unchecked, moles can cause significant damage to the plants and vegetation in your yard. It’s important to take steps to control and eliminate the mole population if you notice the presence of surface runways in your yard.
To summarize, surface runways are raised ridges on the surface of the ground created by moles as they dig tunnels underneath. They are a sign of a mole infestation and should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage to your lawn or garden.
Wilted or Dead Plants
One of the signs of a mole infestation in your lawn or garden is the appearance of wilted or dead plants. This is caused by the moles’ tunneling damaging the roots of the plants, effectively cutting off their access to water and nutrients.
Moles have a high metabolism and need to consume a large amount of food in order to nourish themselves. As they search for food underground, they can easily disrupt the root systems of plants, causing them to wilt or die. Moles can also damage underground irrigation systems, leading to further stress on plants and more extensive water damage.
To determine if moles are the culprit behind the issues with your plants, look for signs of tunneling and molehills in your lawn or garden. You may also observe moles moving through the soil or see their burrows.
If you suspect that moles are causing damage to your plants, it is important to take action to control the infestation. This can include natural methods such as planting mole-repelling plants, chemical treatments, or the use of traps. Additionally, proper lawn care and eliminating the moles’ food sources can help prevent future infestations and further damage to your plants.
|Damage to roots by moles disrupting soil
|Control mole infestation through natural or chemical methods, proper lawn care, and elimination of food sources
|Damage to roots by moles disrupting soil
|Control mole infestation through natural or chemical methods, proper lawn care, and elimination of food sources
The Appearance of a Swollen Lawn
One of the more visible signs of a mole infestation is a **noticeably swollen lawn**. This is caused by the extensive tunneling network that moles create underground, which compromises the integrity of the soil. As they move through the soil, they dislodge dirt and push it upwards, causing the ground to bulge and become uneven. Additionally, the tunnels created by moles can increase water retention in the soil, leading to excess moisture and a lack of proper aeration. This can cause further damage to the lawn, as the roots of plants become deprived of oxygen and can start to decay.
If left untreated, the issue can spread beyond the lawn, affecting other plant life in the surrounding area. The soil can become so compacted that water and other necessary nutrients may struggle to pass through it, leading to further damage. It’s important to address the issue before it gets out of hand, as the longer it goes on, the harder it will be to fix.
To avoid a swollen lawn, there are several steps homeowners can take. First and foremost, it’s essential to keep an eye out for other signs of a mole infestation, such as molehills or surface runways. If spotted early enough, the problem can be nipped in the bud before the lawn suffers extensive damage. Additionally, proper lawn care, such as regular aeration and overseeding, can help keep the soil healthy and resilient.
It may also be necessary to get professional help in removing the moles and their tunnels. There are natural and chemical methods available, but it is important to ensure that they are safe for the environment and any other animals that may be living in your yard. The use of traps can also be effective but should be done with caution, as they can harm the animals if not used correctly.
The appearance of a swollen lawn is a concerning sign of a mole infestation. By addressing the issue early and taking preventative measures to keep the lawn healthy, homeowners can reduce the damage and prevent the problem from spreading.
The Observation of Moles in Your Garden
If you have ever seen a mole in your garden, it is a clear indication that you have a mole infestation. These are small, elusive mammals that are difficult to spot with the naked eye. However, there are some signs that can help you identify their presence. Here are some ways to detect if moles are present in your garden:
- Mounds of soil: Moles dig tunnels underground, and as they do so, they push the soil to the surface, creating small mounds of dirt.
- Surface runways: These are raised ridges created by moles as they travel through their tunnels just below the soil’s surface.
- Wilted or dead plants: When moles dig their tunnels, they can damage the roots of plants, causing them to wilt and die.
- A swollen lawn: The tunnels created by moles can cause the ground to swell up, creating a lumpy appearance on your lawn.
If you notice any of these signs, it is important to take action to control the mole population in your garden. Ignoring the situation will only lead to further damage and potential economic losses.
The Damage Moles Can Cause
Moles, though small and seemingly harmless, can wreak havoc on lawns and gardens. Their underground tunneling behavior can cause a host of problems, from damaged roots to water damage and economic losses. It’s important for homeowners and gardeners to be aware of the potential damage that moles can cause and take appropriate steps to prevent or control infestations. Let’s delve deeper into the specific ways in which moles can damage the landscape.
One of the main problems that moles can cause is damage to the roots of plants. As moles dig tunnels, they often disturb the root systems of plants that are growing in the area. This can weaken the plants, making them more vulnerable to diseases and pests, and can even kill them over time.
The Damage Caused by Mole Tunnels
Moles create tunnels as they dig through the soil, and as they do so, they can damage the roots of nearby plants. This damage can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- The physical pressure of the soil in the tunnel
- The removal of soil from around the roots
- The creation of air pockets around the roots
- The interruption of water and nutrient flow to the roots
All of these factors can contribute to root damage, which in turn can lead to stunted growth, wilting, and eventual death of the plant.
Table: Examples of Plants Damaged by Moles
|Signs of Damage
|Brown, patchy areas of lawn
|Wilting, stunted growth
|Poor crop yield, wilted leaves
|Yellowing leaves, stunted growth
If left unchecked, the damage caused by moles can be severe and can result in the loss of entire gardens and lawns. That’s why it’s important to take steps to control mole populations and protect the health of your plants.
Aeration of Soil
One of the main ways in which moles can cause damage to lawns and gardens is through the aeration of soil. Mole tunnels serve as channels through which air, water, and nutrients can easily move, resulting in the loosening of soil and the stimulation of root growth. However, as moles dig more and more tunnels, the soil can become too loose and unstable, which can cause it to collapse, leaving behind unsightly ridges and bumps.
The aeration of soil can also lead to the drying out of roots, as water may flow through the tunnels rather than being absorbed into the soil. This can result in wilted or dying plants, which can be a frustrating result of mole infestations.
Additionally, the aeration of soil caused by moles can create ideal breeding grounds for other pests and insects, such as grubs and worms, which can further damage lawns and gardens. It is important to take steps to minimize mole activity and their impact on your soil.
Some effective ways to address this issue include reducing or eliminating the moles’ food sources, ensuring proper lawn care, and employing methods of control like trapping or the use of natural or chemical remedies. By taking these measures, you can help protect your lawn and garden from the negative effects of excessive soil aeration caused by mole infestations.
One of the lesser-known damaging effects of a mole infestation is the water damage that can occur. Moles create extensive tunnels underground, which can disrupt the natural drainage of water in your lawn or garden. As a result, water can accumulate around the roots of plants and other vegetation, causing them to rot and die. This can also lead to an overgrowth of fungi and other harmful organisms that thrive in moist environments.
Here are some examples of the water damage that moles can cause:
- Puddled Water: If you notice pools of standing water in your lawn or garden that never seem to dry up, it may be due to the extensive tunneling that moles have done underground. The water can’t drain properly, so it just collects on the surface.
- Soggy Soil: Another sign of water damage caused by moles is soil that is always damp or soggy. This is a result of the water not being able to drain away properly due to the mole tunnels.
- Root Rot: If plants or other vegetation in your yard start to look wilted or sickly, it could be due to root rot caused by excess water. When the roots of plants are constantly sitting in water, they can’t absorb the nutrients they need to thrive.
If left unchecked, water damage caused by moles can have serious consequences for your lawn and garden. It’s important to address the issue as soon as possible to prevent further damage from occurring.
Mole infestations not only cause damage to lawns and gardens but can also lead to economic losses for homeowners. Here are some of the possible economic damages caused by moles:
|Damaged Lawn Equipment
|Moles can cause damage to lawn mowers, weed eaters, and other equipment if their tunnels are not easily visible. This can lead to costly repairs or replacement of the equipment.
|Reduced Property Value
|A mole infestation can make a lawn appear unsightly and unkempt, which can reduce the value of a property. This can be especially problematic for homeowners looking to sell their home or those who have invested in landscaping and lawn care.
|Professional Pest Control Costs
|Homeowners often turn to professional pest control services to address mole infestations. This can be expensive and may require ongoing treatment to effectively eliminate the problem.
|Dealing with a mole infestation can take time away from other important tasks, such as maintaining a garden or lawn care. This lost productivity can be costly in terms of time and resources.
It is important for homeowners to act quickly when signs of a mole infestation are present in order to minimize economic damages and ensure the health of their lawn and garden.
The Spread of Pest Species
One of the lesser-known dangers of moles and their tunneling is the potential for the spread of pest species. As moles burrow through the soil, they can inadvertently create pathways for small pests to enter your lawn or garden. These pests could include:
|ants, termites, and other insects that can cause damage to plants and lawns
|mice, voles, and other small mammals that can invade gardens and cause damage
|weeds and invasive plant species that can thrive in the disturbed soil created by moles
Once these pests gain access to your lawn or garden, they can be difficult to control and eradicate. Additionally, if they are not properly dealt with, they can continue to spread and cause even more damage. This makes it important to address any mole infestations as quickly as possible to prevent the spread of these unwanted visitors.
Methods of Control
Now that we understand why moles dig tunnels and the damage they can cause, it’s time to explore methods of control. Moles are notoriously difficult to eradicate completely, and it’s important to choose the right approach for your situation. There are a variety of natural and chemical methods, as well as traps and prevention techniques. Keep reading to learn how to prevent these underground pests from wreaking havoc on your lawn and garden.
Natural methods are a great option for those who are looking for a more environmentally friendly approach to controlling moles in their lawns or gardens. Here are some natural methods that you can try:
|Castor oil can be used as a repellent to moles. Castor oil granules can be applied to the soil and will create an odor that moles find distasteful. This will make them want to leave the area.
|Daffodils are a natural mole repellent. They contain a toxin that moles cannot tolerate. Planting daffodils in your lawn or garden can help to ward off moles.
|Encouraging natural predators such as snakes, owls, and hawks can help to control the mole population in your lawn or garden. These animals are natural predators of moles and will often hunt them for food.
|Remove Grubs and Insects
|Since moles feed on grubs and insects, removing these food sources can help to reduce the mole population. This can be done by using organic methods such as applying neem oil or nematodes to the soil.
Using natural methods can be a great way to control moles in your lawn or garden without harming the environment. By using these natural methods, you can help to reduce the mole population and keep your lawn or garden looking healthy and beautiful.
One method of controlling moles is through the use of chemical methods. However, it is important to note that these methods can be harmful to other animals, including domestic pets, and can also contaminate soil and nearby water sources. Here are some options to consider for using chemical methods to control moles:
- Gassing: This involves inserting gas into the mole tunnels to kill the animals. Aluminum phosphide and carbon monoxide are the most commonly used gases for this method. However, it requires a lot of precision and knowledge to do it safely, as gas could harm humans and other animals as well.
- Poison Baits: Another chemical method is to use poison baits that contain zinc phosphide to kill the moles. But similar to gassing, it could harm other animals and be risky to use.
- Repellents: Moles can also be deterred through the use of repellents that emit a strong odor that irritates them, encouraging them to leave the area. Mole repellent usually contains castor oil that is effective in keeping moles out of gardens and lawns. But one should be careful when using this chemical method, as some repellents can also harm other desirable wildlife and vegetation.
Before opting for any chemical method, one should also consider other safer methods of mole control. Additionally, it is always essential to read and follow the products’ instruction labels and take safety measures to ensure that the method used is safe for the environment, humans, and other pets.
The Use of Traps
Using traps can be an effective way to control a mole infestation. However, it’s important to note that trapping moles requires patience and persistence. Here are some steps to follow when using traps:
- Choose the right trap: There are several types of traps available for trapping moles. Some popular options include the scissor-jaw trap, the harpoon trap, and the choker trap. Research and choose the trap that you feel most comfortable using.
- Find active tunnels: Moles frequently use particular tunnels repeatedly, so it’s important to determine which tunnels are currently being used. You can do this by flattening tunnels and checking to see which ones are repaired. Alternatively, you can purchase a probe specifically designed for finding mole tunnels.
- Set the trap: Once you have identified an active tunnel, carefully set the trap according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Be careful not to damage the tunnel while placing the trap. Cover the trap with a bucket or other item to reduce visibility and prevent animals or humans from accidentally triggering the trap.
- Check the trap daily: It’s important to check the trap daily to see if you’ve caught a mole. If you have, make sure to dispose of the mole properly and reset the trap. If you haven’t caught a mole after a few days, move the trap to a different tunnel.
- Continue trapping: Trapping moles may require several attempts and may take several weeks or even months to be effective. Keep setting traps in active tunnels until you no longer see evidence of moles in your lawn or garden.
Remember to always follow safety precautions when setting traps and when handling trapped moles. If you do not feel comfortable trapping moles yourself, consider hiring a professional pest control service to assist you.
Ensuring Proper Lawn Care
Maintaining a healthy lawn is an important part of preventing mole infestations. By following these proper lawn care tips, you can create an environment that is less inviting to moles.
- Mow your lawn regularly: Keeping your grass short will make it more difficult for moles to dig tunnels.
- Water your lawn regularly: A well-hydrated lawn will be denser and have stronger roots, making it more difficult for moles to burrow through the soil.
- Aerate your lawn: Aerating your lawn will help relieve compaction in the soil and increase drainage. This will make it less attractive to moles, as the soil will be less hospitable for grubs and other insects they feed on.
- Remove any thatch: Thatch is a layer of living and dead plant material that builds up on the surface of your soil. Removing it will help improve the health of your grass and discourage moles from burrowing.
- Fill in any holes: If you see any holes or tunnels in your lawn, fill them in with soil and pack it down tightly. This will make it more difficult for moles to dig new tunnels.
- Use the proper fertilizer: Applying the right type and amount of fertilizer to your lawn can make it less attractive to moles. Consult a lawn care professional to determine the best fertilizer for your lawn.
By ensuring proper lawn care, you can not only prevent mole infestations but also improve the overall health and appearance of your lawn.
Eliminating the Moles’ Food Sources
Moles are attracted to areas with plentiful food sources, so one effective way of controlling their population is to eliminate their food sources. Here are some steps you can take:
- Remove grubs: Moles love to feed on grubs, so remove them from your lawn to discourage moles from making your property their home. There are natural and chemical methods you can use to eliminate grubs.
- Remove earthworms: Moles also feast on earthworms, so decreasing the earthworm population in your lawn may help reduce the number of moles. One way to do this is to decrease the amount of organic matter in your soil, which earthworms thrive on.
- Minimize watering: Moles prefer damp soil and will often create tunnels in areas with excess water. Cutting back on watering your lawn may help discourage them from tunneling in your yard.
- Remove bird feeders: Bird feeders attract small animals, which in turn attract moles. Removing bird feeders from your lawn can help reduce the amount of small animals in the area, making it less attractive to moles.
- Regularly remove yard waste: Piles of yard waste, such as leaves and old branches, can attract insects, which moles feed on. Removing yard waste from your property on a regular basis can help reduce the mole population on your lawn.
By following some of these steps to eliminate the moles’ food sources, you can help reduce the number of moles on your property and prevent damage to your lawn and garden.
In conclusion, dealing with moles can be a challenging task for any homeowner or gardener. There are numerous methods of controlling these pests, including natural and chemical methods, as well as trapping and proper lawn care. It is important to address mole infestations promptly, as they can cause significant damage to lawns and gardens, including damaged roots, soil aeration, water damage, economic losses, and the spread of other pest species.
One of the best ways to prevent mole infestations is to eliminate their primary food sources, such as grubs and other insects. This may involve making changes to lawn care practices, such as limiting watering and fertilizing or using nematodes to control insects.
Another effective method of mole control is the use of traps. There are many different types of traps available, including live traps and lethal traps, but it is important to use them properly and follow all safety guidelines to avoid injury to people, pets, or other wildlife.
Ultimately, the key to controlling moles is to educate yourself about their behavior and biology, and to be proactive in managing any infestations that arise. With the right tools and knowledge, it is possible to keep your lawns and gardens healthy and pest-free.
Frequently Asked Questions
How deep do moles dig their tunnels?
Most mole tunnels are shallow and located within the top 6 to 12 inches of soil.
Do moles eat plant roots?
Yes, moles feed on earthworms, grubs and other insects found underground, including plant roots.
How fast can moles dig?
Moles can dig up to 18 feet of tunnel per hour.
Can moles see?
No, moles have very poor eyesight, but they have excellent senses of hearing and smell to navigate underground.
Do moles hibernate?
No, moles do not hibernate, but they do become less active during the winter months.
Are moles active during the day or night?
Moles are predominantly active during the day, but they can also be active at night.
Do moles carry diseases?
No, moles do not carry diseases that are harmful to humans or pets.
Can moles swim?
Moles are not able to swim and will drown if they fall into a body of water.
Do mothballs repel moles?
No, mothballs are not an effective method for repelling moles.
Can you relocate a mole?
It is not recommended to relocate moles as they can easily find their way back and may cause damage to another area.