Have you noticed small erratic mining tunnels running throughout your lawn? If so, the culprit is most likely the common (Eastern) mole.
Moles are characterized by their pointed noses, tiny eyes, no visible ears, paddle-like front feet with large claws for digging, hairless stubby tails, and a velvety fur body. The reason for the raised ridges of earth throughout the lawn is from their surface burrows as they search underground for earthworms, beetles, grubs and other soil dwelling insects. Rarely do they feed on the turf or other plants, but their tunneling can cause damage by destroying roots, making the lawn uneven, etc.
Trapping probably has been the most effective method of control, but will require an understanding of the mole’s habits and considerable patience. There are several types of traps available, but the most common is the harpoon trap. Its foot trigger fires harpoon spikes into the burrow as the mole travels through. The trick is to observe the moles activity and locate the main burrow that is traveled daily. Usually these are the straighter, continuous tunnels. You can determine the daily run tunnels by depressing the raised soil with your foot and observing which tunnels are reopened.
Home remedies such as chewing gum, poison peanuts, etc. are not effective since moles will not eat these.
There are two fairly new products that have provided good control. The first is simply called mole gel bait that contains warfarin and is injected into the tunnel similar to using a caulking gun. As the mole crawls through this jelly-like product it gets on the face and claws and is poisoned as the mole licks it off. Caution should be used when applying this product so that pets and other animals cannot get to it. Warfarin is an anti-coagulant (rat poison).
The second is called Talpirid and mimics a moles natural food source. Talpirid is formulated the same size, shape, and texture of earthworms and contains enhancers that ensure attraction and acceptance of the bait. It is packaged twenty worms per box and a single worm contains a lethal dose of bromethalin. You make a small hole in the main tunnel then drop a bait down into the tunnel.
Published October 31, 2005
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org