Gardeners, lawn owners learn to fight moles on their own turf

“You’ll either learn to trap them or learn to live with them,” Charlie Lee, K-State’s wildlife damage control specialist, told the crowd gathered last Saturday morning at Peggy and Gary DeForeest’s home in rural Scranton, Kan., for a mole eradication workshop.

The Frontier Extension District hosted the workshop, which provided information to about 30 frustrated gardeners and homeowners. Damaged lawns make moles very unpopular, and with mowing season starting up, the creatures have come under fire.

The only successful way to rid your lawn of the insect eating mammal is to learn how and where to trap them, Lee said.

He discussed other eradication methods, noting that if you believe everything you see on TV or the Internet, you might have purchased repellants, toxicants, fumigants, ground shakers, or sonar devices to try to rid your yard of the pests. Almost all of those things are not effective, he said.

Moles prefer live, moving prey, which makes most poisoned food uninviting to them, the specialist said. Seeing mole holes by major highways indicates ground-shaking products are also ineffective.

Lee explained moles spend their entire lives underground. They can tunnel up to 300 feet in one day and can consume their weight in grubs and earthworms. Moles are solitary creatures, usually having two to four offspring a year, which move on as soon as they are grown.

When you examine lawn damage from moles, you can usually find a longer traveling tunnel with several side passages the moles use to locate food. Traps should be set in an active tunnel. To confirm the tunnel is active, make a small pilot hole using your index finger to poke down into the tunnel. Insert a small flag and check the hole for a few days. If the hole is plugged with dirt, the tunnel is active and would indicate a good place to set a trap.

Lee set several traps a few nights before the workshop and the group was able to observe their design, ease of operation and success rate. A search of the Internet will provide many options and price ranges for purchasing mole traps. Frontier Extension District also has a few traps to lease; for more information, contact agent Ryan Schaub at 785-448-6826 or email [email protected].

Charlie Lee, K-State’s wildlife damage control specialist, explains different types of mole traps to a cold crowd gathered April 7, at a mole eradication workshop in rural Scranton.

Story and photos by Jan Williams.

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