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Correll: Mole damage is unsightly

dfox • Nov 4, 2015 at 6:00 PM

 ”De-mole-ation.” Well, maybe that is a stretch at attempted humor, but having moles in your yard is definitely not very humorous. Moles can actually be beneficial to compacted soils, but they are considered more a nuisance than a benefit. No one likes the appearance of their lawn if moles have done extensive tunneling.

Moles are small mammals that spend most of their lives in underground burrows, seldom seen by humans. They are somewhat similar in appearance to mice, voles and shrews. Moles are insectivores and they feed actively day and night all times of the year. They eat 70 to 100 percent of their weight daily in insects, grubs and earthworms. Moles do not eat grass, flowers or any plant parts. 

Moles dig lots of shallow tunnels in search of food, due to their insatiable appetite. They also dig deeper tunnels, 5 to 8 inches deep, to escape periods of drought, heat and cold. These deep tunnels have runways that connect quart-sized dens and nesting cavities and are also connected to the system of shallow tunnels. The only evidence of the deeper tunnels is a mound of deposited soil – a molehill. 

Trapping is the most effective method of controlling moles, with best results during spring and fall while the soil is moist and temperatures most favorable. There are three types of mole traps: choker, pincher and harpoon. Because moles can come from either direction in the tunnel, traps must be placed facing both directions.

To determine where to set traps, walk down small sections (the width of your shoe) of several tunnels during the afternoon or early evening, then check the next morning to see which tunnels are raised – this is where traps should be set. Dig out a portion of the tunnel slightly larger than the trap, place the trap so the mole will travel through it, then replace the soil in the hole, packing it firmly where the trigger pan will rest. Do not, however, tear up large or numerous sections of the tunnel, and be careful not to include foreign material (e.g., leaves, twigs or rocks) in the fill material.

Moles are very suspicious. If a mole detects anything unusual in its tunnel, it will immediately back up and burrow around or under the set trap. Fortunately, moles are not suspicious of soil blocking the runway and usually will push their way into a soil blockade to reopen the tunnel and continue on their way. Traps are triggered when a mole reopens the tunnel. If the mole is not caught in two days, identify other active runways and move your traps. 

Although mole populations rarely exceed 3-5 per acre, trapping or killing a mole otherwise leaves a ready-built home for other moles to move into. A continuing trapping effort may be necessary to keep an area mole free. 

Having moles can be very aggravating, but as the columnist Earl Wilson once wrote, “One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills.” For additional information request PB1624 – Managing Nuisance Animals Around the Home)

Reminder, there’s an informational meeting on the emerald ash borer in Wilson County on Monday in the Town Hall building in Fiddlers Grove at the James E. Ward Ag. Center. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Topics to be covered include identification and quarantine information and question-and-answer time. All are welcome to attend.

For additional information on these and other topics, contact the UT Extension Office, 925 East Baddour Parkway, Lebanon, TN 37087, 615-444-9584 or acorrell@utk.edu.  UT Extension provides equal opportunities in all programs. Visit the UT/TSU Extension webpage at utextension.tennessee.edu/wilson or look for UT & TSU Extension, Wilson County on Facebook.

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