University of Illinois Extension

 

John Church,
Extension Educator, Natural Resources
Rockford Extension Center

Past Issues

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Summer Mole Problems

Moles can tunnel throughout many lawns during the summer. They feed on earthworms, insects, and other small soil-dwelling animals. Their food is primarily earthworms, and the abundance and presence of earthworms can be a major reason for their activity. Moles will also be more abundant in turf areas that border natural areas such as meadows, prairie areas, and wooded areas or near creeks and streams. As mole numbers increase in those areas, they are more prone to invading nearby lawns. This situation can cause frequent reinvasion of the turf area from the natural area regardless of what preventative measures are taken in the turf area or the amount of "food" present.

Insecticides are often suggested for use in the battle against moles. However, since moles feed primarily on earthworms, the application of insecticides to reduce the number of grubs and other soil insects that are food for the moles is not likely to always be successful. Most turf insecticides have little effect on earthworms. This lack of effect is fortunate because the earthworms are very useful in soil aeration and breakdown of thatch. In late summer, white grubs become more active and some homeowners ask about killing the grub population to reduce the mole activity, but often such efforts are not effective. Only treat for white grubs if they are present in sufficient numbers and causing damage, not just to deter moles.

The use of traps is probably the most effective control method for moles. Traps should be placed across active tunnels. Active tunnels are usually somewhat straight and connect other tunnels or soil mounds. Feeding tunnels tend to be meandering and winding and commonly make a dead end without connecting with another tunnel. Feeding tunnels are the paths where the mole traveled during feeding and will be unlikely to be reused. Thus a trap placed across a feeding tunnel will not usually catch a mole. Active tunnels can be identified by mashing down a few inches of each tunnel and marking them with a flag or stick. Moles can repair and rebuild the active tunnels within a few days. The trap can be placed across a mashed down portion of an active tunnel. As the mole tries to repair the tunnel, the trap will be sprung and the mole killed by the trap. Most turf areas will contain only one or two moles even though the tunneling may be quite extensive. Live traps are also available to trap the animals for transport to another area. Federal, state and local wildlife management ordinances need to be observed whenever doing any wildlife trapping or other controls are used.

Especially in areas where new construction and development continues to spread into natural, undisturbed areas, wildlife such as moles can become pests. It is important to remember, though, that the animals probably were present in the area long before humans and the transition is just as troublesome to them as to homeowners.

 

June - July 2001: Summer Mole Problems | Summer Lawn Care Tips | Immigrant Plants | FAQ's On White Grubs in Lawns

 

Past Issues

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