Understanding Mole Habits for Effective Control

Have you ever stepped outside to enjoy your beautifully landscaped yard, only to find mounds of dirt and tunnels zigzagging through your lawn? If so, you may have fallen victim to the underground antics of moles. These elusive critters are known for their disruptive tunneling and feeding habits, causing frustration for homeowners and gardeners alike. To effectively rid yourself of these pests, it’s essential to understand their behavior and habits. In this article, we’ll explore the diet, tunneling patterns, and reproduction habits of moles, as well as signs of their activity, effective control methods, and preventative measures to keep them at bay. By understanding mole habits, we can develop targeted strategies to keep our lawns and gardens healthy and unscathed.

Mole Habits and Behavior

Mole Habits And Behavior
As gardeners and homeowners, few things are as frustrating as a mole infestation. These small mammals can quickly become a nuisance, causing damage to property and plants. Understanding mole habits and behavior is key to effectively controlling their presence. From their dietary preferences to their tendency to tunnel extensively, moles have a unique set of behaviors that informs our efforts to remove them. In this article, we’ll explore the various aspects of mole behavior and provide strategies for controlling their activity.


Moles are insectivores, which means that their primary diet consists of insects and other invertebrates found in the soil. They mostly feed on earthworms, grubs, and ants, consuming up to 70-100% of their body weight each day. Here’s a table to help you understand the diet of moles:

Food Percentage of Diet
Earthworms 85%
Grubs 10%
Ants 5%

Moles use their keen sense of smell to locate their prey in the soil. They have a high metabolic rate, which means they need to consume large amounts of food to sustain their energy levels. As a result of their feeding habits, they create tunnels and mounds in lawns and gardens, causing damage to plants and creating an unsightly landscape.

Understanding the diet of moles is crucial when it comes to controlling their population. If you eliminate their food source, they will be forced to move somewhere else in search of food. However, it is not recommended to use toxic baits or chemicals to kill insects, as these can harm the environment and other wildlife.

To learn more about different strategies to control mole behavior related to their diet, read our article on mole behavior control strategies.


One of the most prominent traits of moles is their tunneling behavior. They are efficient burrowers and can travel up to 18 feet an hour underneath the soil. Their tunnels serve several purposes, including finding food and shelter from predators and weather conditions.

Tunnel Types:
There are several types of tunnels that moles create. The first is the surface tunnel, which can be identified by raised ridges of soil. These tunnels are used for traveling and finding food. The second is the deep tunnel, which can be found about a foot underground. These tunnels are used for shelter and nesting purposes.

Interconnected Tunnels:
Moles also create complex interconnected tunnels that provide them with multiple escape routes in case of danger. These tunnels can span a large area, sometimes several feet deep, and can be difficult to eradicate.

Weather and Tunneling:
Moles can be sensitive to weather conditions and may tunnel deeper into the ground during periods of extreme heat or cold. They may also move closer to the surface during periods of heavy rainfall as the soil becomes softer.

Knowing the different types of tunnels moles create can help in identifying where the infestation is coming from. This can help in devising an effective plan to remove them from the area. A combination of trapping, repelling, and exclusion methods can be used to remove moles and prevent future infestations. If you want to learn more about mole tunneling and their behavior, read this article on Mole Tunnels and Habits.


Moles are solitary animals that reproduce once a year. The breeding season occurs in late winter to early spring, with mating occurring mostly in February and March. The gestation period can vary by species, but it usually lasts for roughly four to six weeks.

Once the young are born, they stay with the mother for about a month until they are weaned and ready to venture out on their own. During this time, the mother cares for and protects her young, teaching them how to hunt and dig tunnels.

Moles reach sexual maturity at around one year of age and can live up to three years in the wild. As they age, their territories expand, and they may leave their birthplace to establish a new burrow.

Understanding mole reproduction is crucial for effective control. Trapping and repellents can be less effective during the breeding season, as the mole’s interactions with the outside world decrease. Implementing prevention techniques, such as creating an unfavorable habitat for moles, can help reduce reproductive success and lessen the overall impact of their presence in your yard.

The mole’s reproductive behavior plays a significant role in their influence on your lawn. By understanding their breeding habits, homeowners can implement effective control methods and preventive measures to create a more mole-resistant lawn.

Signs of Mole Activity

Signs Of Mole Activity
Signs of mole activity can be easy to miss, as moles tend to spend most of their time underground. However, there are some distinct indicators that can help you identify if moles are present in your yard or garden. These indicators include the appearance of mounds and surface tunnels, as well as damage to plants caused by moles tunneling and feeding on roots. It is important to be able to detect these signs in order to effectively control mole populations in your outdoor spaces.

Mounds and Surface Tunnels

Moles are notorious for creating unsightly mounds and surface tunnels throughout your lawn and garden. These telltale signs of mole activity are often one of the first indications that you have a mole problem. It’s important to understand why moles create mounds and surface tunnels in order to effectively control their populations.

Mounds are created when moles push dirt up and out of their tunnels. These mounds can be up to a foot in diameter and can range from a few inches to a foot high. Some people mistake mole mounds for ant hills, but ant hills are smaller, have a smaller opening, and the dirt is usually more spread out around the top of the mound.

Surface tunnels, also known as ridges or raised tunnels, occur when moles are burrowing just below the surface of the ground. These tunnels are used to hunt for food, such as grubs and earthworms. They are usually about two inches wide and can be up to a foot or more in length.

It’s important to note that not all ridges in your lawn are caused by moles. Other lawn pests and even natural soil upheavals can create similar ridges.

To determine if you have a mole problem, look for multiple mounds and ridges in close proximity to one another. Moles create intricate tunnel systems that can cover up to a quarter of an acre, so it’s important to identify the scope of the problem before taking action.

If you do have a mole problem and want to take action, there are several effective control methods available. Check out our article on how to remove moles from your lawn for more information.

But it’s also important to understand why moles are creating mounds and surface tunnels. By creating conditions that are unfavorable for moles, such as reducing excessive watering, you can discourage moles from taking up residence in your lawn. For more information on creating an unfavorable habitat for moles, check out our article on creating an unfavorable habitat for moles.

Remember, moles are not malicious creatures, but simply go about their business of tunneling and hunting for food. Understanding their habits and behavior is key to effective control and prevention.

Damaged Plants

One of the signs of mole activity is damage to plants in the yard. Moles can cause extensive damage to plants by uprooting them or damaging their roots, which can cause the plants to die off. Some plants are more vulnerable to mole damage than others, including those with shallow root systems.  Mole damage can also create an entry point for other pests and diseases, exacerbating the damage.

Effective treatment of mole damage depends on understanding the behavior of moles and their habitat preferences. Moles are often found in areas with loose, moist soil, and can create extensive tunnels as they burrow. These tunnels can be identified by raised ridges in the yard or garden bed, as well as the infamous “mole mounds”. These mounds are essentially piles of upturned dirt that moles push to the surface as they burrow their tunnels.

It is important to note that not all damage to plants is caused by moles. Moles primarily feed on earthworms and other soil-dwelling invertebrates, so damage to plants is typically incidental rather than intentional. If you suspect that moles are damaging your plants, it may be helpful to check for other signs of activity, such as tunnels or mounds.

It may be tempting to turn to chemical treatments to protect your plants, but these can be harmful to both the environment and the beneficial insects that make up a healthy garden ecosystem. Instead, it is recommended to take preventative measures, such as creating barriers or improving soil health, to discourage moles from inhabiting your yard or garden. For more detailed information about the soil quality that attracts moles, read our article here.

If you notice damage to your plants, it may be a sign of mole activity in your yard. Look for other signs of mole activity such as tunnels or mounds to confirm this. Instead of opting for harmful chemicals to control mole populations, it is recommended to take preventative measures and discourage moles from inhabiting your yard. By making it less hospitable for moles, you can help protect your garden and the surrounding environment. For more insight about the influence of weather and climate on mole behavior, see our article here.  

Effective Control Methods

Effective Control Methods
When it comes to dealing with pesky moles wreaking havoc in our gardens and lawns, there are a variety of methods to effectively control their activity. However, navigating through the myriad of options can be perplexing. Fear not, for we have compiled a list of the most successful and practical control methods for effectively minimizing mole activity. From trapping to repellants to exclusion, each method has its own strengths and weaknesses that are important to consider. So, let’s dive into the world on mole control with expert advice on which method may work best for your specific situation.


One of the most effective ways to control moles is through trapping. Trapping allows for the direct targeting of mole populations in the specific areas where they are causing damage. However, there are several important considerations to keep in mind when using trapping as a control method.

Types of Traps: There are various types of traps available for mole control, including harpoon, scissor-jaw, and choker-loop traps. Harpoon traps are designed to penetrate the mole’s skin upon triggering, scissor-jaw traps use a scissor-like action to crush the mole, and choker-loop traps strangle the mole in a noose-like device. Each type of trap has pros and cons, so it’s important to research and select the most appropriate type for your specific situation.

Placement: Proper trap placement is crucial for success. It’s important to identify active mole tunnels and place traps in those areas. Mole tunnels can be identified by stepping down on the soil and seeing which areas spring back up (indicating a tunnel), or by using a probe to feel for soft soil. It’s also important to place the trap perpendicular to the tunnel, so that the mole will trigger it while moving through the tunnel.

Bait: While not necessary, bait can be used to increase trap success. Earthworms, grubs, and other insects are common baits for mole trapping. It’s important to not over-bait, as moles are not attracted to large piles of bait and excess bait can actually deter moles from using the tunnel.

Check and Reset: It’s important to check traps daily and reset them as needed. Once a mole is caught, it’s possible that there are more in the area, so trap resetting is necessary to target the entire population.

Trapping can be an effective and humane method for controlling mole populations. Proper trap selection, placement, and maintenance are key to success. It’s also important to research local regulations and follow them when using traps.


One of the effective methods for controlling mole infestation is by using repellents. These are substances that can deter moles from entering and inhabiting your yard. There are different types of mole repellents available on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some types of repellents that you should consider:

Types of Mole Repellents Description Advantages Disadvantages
Castor Oil-Based Repellents These are natural oils that emit an odor that moles find unpleasant. When applied to the ground, they create a barrier that discourages moles from digging. Environmentally-friendly, non-toxic to pets and humans, and long-lasting. May require frequent application, and effectiveness may vary depending on soil type and weather conditions.
Sonic and Vibrating Repellents These are devices that emit a sound or vibration that moles perceive as a threat. They are usually battery-operated and can cover a wide area. Easy to install, low-maintenance, and can deter other pests as well. May not be effective for all types of moles, and may only provide temporary relief.
Chemical Repellents These are pesticides that are specifically formulated to target moles. They work by poisoning the food source or creating a toxic barrier around the yard. Can be very effective when used correctly, and some formulations can provide long-term protection. May be harmful to pets and other wildlife, and can also contaminate the soil and water supply.

It is important to note that while repellents can be effective in deterring moles, they should be used in conjunction with other control methods, such as trapping and exclusion. It is also recommended to follow the instructions carefully when using chemical repellents, as they can pose a potential risk to human and animal health if not used properly. Repellents can be a useful tool in controlling mole infestations, but it is important to choose the right type of repellent and use it in a responsible manner.


One effective way to control moles is through exclusion measures, which involve preventing the pests from entering or exiting certain areas. Here are some methods that can be used for exclusion:

  • Landscaping: By altering the landscaping of an area, it may be possible to make it less attractive to moles. For example, planting plants that moles do not like or laying down gravel or other rough materials can discourage moles from entering the area.
  • Fencing: Installation of proper fencing is another effective exclusion strategy. Certain types of fences, such as those made of mesh or hardware cloth, can keep moles out of an area by blocking their entrance.
  • Sealing: Sealing off holes and entry points through which the moles may enter can also help to control the problem. These entry points can be found by inspecting around the exterior of a building or property looking for any openings or cracks on the foundation, pipes or other vulnerable areas that moles can access.
  • Ultrasonic devices: Technology is available that uses high frequency sound waves to repel moles. When placed in an area where moles are active, the ultrasonic waves can cause enough irritation to prevent the moles from returning to that area.

It is important to note that exclusion measures may not be effective as a standalone method for mole control, and it may be necessary to combine these methods with other control measures for the best results. Nevertheless, exclusion can be an effective tool when used correctly and can help to prevent future mole activity in a given area.

Preventative Measures

Preventative measures are the best way to avoid mole infestations altogether. There are a few steps you can take to make your property less attractive to moles.

1. Remove their food source: As mentioned earlier, moles feed on insects such as grubs and worms. Regularly treating your lawn for insects can help reduce the likelihood of a mole infestation. Additionally, removing any compost piles, leaf piles or other areas where insects may congregate can make your lawn less attractive to moles.

2. Keep your lawn healthy: A healthy lawn is less likely to attract moles. Ensure that your lawn is well-maintained by regularly watering it and mowing it to an appropriate height. Additionally, aerating and fertilizing your lawn can help keep it healthy.

3. Install a barrier: If you have a garden or flowerbed that you want to protect from moles, installing a barrier can be effective. Place a mesh barrier along the base of the garden bed or flowerbed to prevent moles from burrowing underneath it.

4. Use lights and sound: Moles are sensitive to both light and sound. Installing motion-sensor lights or placing wind chimes in your garden can create a deterrent effect for moles.

5. Regularly check for signs of mole activity: Regularly inspecting your lawn and garden for signs of mole activity can help you catch any infestations early on. The earlier you catch a mole infestation, the easier it will be to remove them.

By taking these preventative measures, you can lower the risk of a mole infestation and avoid the damage that comes with it. It’s important to note that prevention is always the best approach, and implementing preventative measures can save you both time and money in the long run.


In conclusion, controlling mole activity is crucial for maintaining a healthy and aesthetically pleasing yard or garden. Understanding the habits and behavior of moles is essential for effective control. It is important to recognize the signs of mole activity, such as mounds and damaged plants, in order to take action promptly.

There are various effective control methods, including trapping, repellants, and exclusion. Trapping is a humane and efficient way to remove moles from the area, while repellants can help deter moles from entering the yard or garden. Exclusion involves creating physical barriers to prevent moles from accessing the area altogether.

Furthermore, preventative measures can also be taken to minimize the likelihood of mole activity. This may include keeping the lawn well-maintained, removing food sources, and regularly inspecting the area for signs of mole activity.

Overall, understanding mole habits and implementing effective control methods can help ensure a beautiful and functional outdoor space. It is important to take action promptly at the first sign of mole activity. By doing so, you can prevent further damage and maintain the beauty of your garden or lawn.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between moles and voles?

While both are burrowing rodents, moles feed on bugs and earthworms and create raised mounds or ridges in a random pattern, while voles eat vegetation and create runways or trails in a more orderly pattern.

Are moles harmful to humans?

No, moles are not harmful to humans. They generally avoid contact with humans and prefer to stay underground.

What time of day are moles most active?

Moles are most active during the early morning and late afternoon, but can also be active at night.

Can moles damage foundations or structures?

Moles do not typically damage foundations or structures, as they primarily stay underground. However, their tunnels and burrowing activities can sometimes affect the stability of walkways or retaining walls.

What plants do moles prefer?

Moles do not eat plants, but their burrowing activities can damage plant roots and cause plants to wilt or die.

What kind of traps are effective for controlling moles?

Spring-loaded traps or harpoon type traps are effective for trapping moles.

Will using repellants harm the moles?

No, repellants are generally made with natural ingredients and are designed to deter moles without causing harm.

How can I exclude moles from my yard or garden?

Excluding moles can be done by installing physical barriers such as underground wire mesh or fencing around garden beds.

What is the most effective way to prevent moles from entering my yard?

Regularly removing dead leaves, grass clippings and other organic debris that can attract insects, which in turn attract moles, can help prevent them from entering your yard.

Do ultrasonic pest repellents work against moles?

No, ultrasonic pest repellents do not typically work against moles. They are not effective because moles do not rely on hearing in the same way that other pests might.