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How To Kill and Get Rid of Moles and Gophers


 
Mole

Eastern US Mole

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Species of Moles

There are several species of moles in the U.S. The Eastern mole (Scalopus aguaticus) is the most numerous and widespread in the eastern United States, and is responsible for most of the complaints concerning mole damage to lawns and gardens. The most troublesome species on the coast of Oregon and Washington is the Townsend's mole (Scapanus townsendi), and in California, the broad-footed mole, (Scapanus latimanus).

Other species of moles in the United States for the most part are of no pest significance. Although there are some differences between the various species of moles, most moles have similar biology and behavior. Therefore, this page will be based upon the biology, behavior and control of the eastern mole.

Moles are not rodents - they belong to the group of mammals known as Insectivora, and thus are more closely related to the shrews. Eastern moles have pointed snouts, greatly enlarged rounded front feet with stout claws, and a short, nearly naked tail. They are 5-8 inches long with short, velvety fur that is usually gray to silvery-gray. The eyes and ears of moles are very small and are concealed in the fur.

Moles can be destructive pests in lawns, gardens, nurseries, parks, golf courses, and cemeteries. During their burrowing activities, they produce mounds and ridges that disfigure lawns and sometimes dislodge plants or injure plant roots. Their mounds also provide a medium for the germination of weed seeds.

Moles feed primarily on earthworms, beetle grubs, ants, and other arthropods and animals found in the soil. A smaller part of their diet consists of various seed and vegetable matter. But they usually do not eat bulbs or the roots of garden plants.

Moles are active day and night throughout the year, but they are most visibly active during the spring and fall on damp days or following rainshowers when they push up more tunnels and mounds. When the ground surface becomes frozen in the winter, or very dry during the summer, moles use only the deeper burrows.

Mating occurs during February and March, with a single litter of three to five young born later in the spring following a 6-week gestation period. Young moles grow rapidly and have the appearance, and behave like an adult at about one month of age. Young moles may use their family's burrow system for up to six months before dispersing to establish their own burrow systems and territories nearby.

Two types of runways (tunnels) are produced by moles: sub-surface runways and deep runways. Certain tunnels of both types are used as major lanes of travel (called main runways) and may be used by several moles in the area.

Sub-surface runways are feeding tunnels just below the soil surface and commonly seen as the raised ridges running through lawn areas. The mole is capable of extending these runways at the rate of 100 feet per day. Sub-surface runs may be used daily, may be revisited at irregular intervals, or may be used only once for feeding and then abandoned. They connect with the deep runways, which are located between 3 and 12 inches below the surface. Generally, few or no mounds are produced as a result of the production of sub-surface tunnels.

Deep runways are usually main runways, since they are used daily as the mole travels to and from the main sub-surface runways or the nest. The soil excavated from the deep tunnels is deposited on the surface through short vertical tunnels in volcano-like mounds. (Mole mounds should not be confused with pocket gopher mounds which are horse-shoe shaped.)

The number of mounds or surface ridges seen in a yard is no indication of how many moles may be present. Generally, one acre of land will support about two or three moles at one time. However, yards surrounded by or adjacent to large tracts of forested areas or weedy fields may be subject to continual invasions by moles because such areas may support many moles.


How To Kill Moles and Gophers

Trapping is the most reliable method of mole control although it can also be the most tedious.   The key to success is patience, practice and persistence. Moles have an uncanny ability to detect and spring improperly set traps. But if traps are placed carefully and correctly they often produce results within one day.

Generally, trapping is easiest and most effective during the spring and fall, when mole activity is at a peak. Once mole activity is noticed, control efforts should begin as quickly as possible to keep damage to a minimum. Also, trapping in the early spring can eliminate pregnant females, thereby reducing the likelihood of having to contend with a family of moles later.

For successful trapping, it is essential to locate the main runways. To identify main runways in a yard or area, look for runways which:

Also, because nests are commonly located at protected spots along the edge of areas such as hedgerows or fencerows, border trapping at the places where runways enter the yard, field, or garden often proves highly effective.

Unless the mole activity is extremely light, more than one trap should be used. Use between three and five traps per acre for quick results. If possible, one trap should be placed in each of the above main runway areas.

How To Trap Moles

There are several different types of mole traps, but the Victor "harpoon trap" is probably the easiest trap to use. To properly set a harpoon trap on a surface run, CAREFULLY follow these steps:
  1. Using the side of your hand, lightly press down a narrow section (approx. 1 inch in width) of an active runway so that the runway is collapsed to 1/2 of its original dimension.
  2. Push the supporting spikes of the trap into the ground, one on either side of the runway, until the trigger pan just barely touches the depressed tunnel. Be sure the trap is centered over the runway and the supporting spikes do not cut into the tunnel below
  3. Set the trap and leave it, taking care not to tread on or disturb any other portion of the runway system;
  4. Check the trap once or twice a day. If a trap fails to produce a mole within 4 or 5 days, move the trap to another portion of the runway system or to another runway.
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Eliminating grubs will not eliminate moles

A common misconception about mole control is that if you eliminate grubs from lawns you will eliminate the moles. But grubs make up only a portion of the mole's diet which also includes earthworms and other soil animals. Thus, moles often are present in grubfree lawns.

If all the earthworms, grubs, and other soil animals in a lawn are eliminated via repeated applications of various insecticides, the moles would be forced to seek other, more productive areas. However, the results may not be evident for several weeks, and damage would be likely to continue and even increase during this time. In short, lawn spraying can be an expensive approach to mole control, and is not all that effective.

Attempting to kill moles with poisonous gases (fumigants) can also be effective. Care has to be taken to ensure that the toxic gas does not escape through the moles extensive runway system, or their killing effects are lost through the escape of the toxic gas upwards from the sub-surface tunnels. The use of poisonous gases must be performed by a licensed pest control operator.

Talpirid mole baitLike poison gases, poisoned baits (nuts grain pellets and gels) such as Kaput or Sweeney's can also give good results, but primarily in lawns where earthworms and insects are not abundant. The best product we have found to control moles is Talpirid . Talpirid is a natural earthworm mimic that looks and smells like an earthworm to a Mole. When a Mole eats a Talpirid worm, it has the same effect as rodent bait would have on a mouse or rat. Kaput is a gel based product that is inserted into the mole tunnels. Once applied into the tunnels the gel based Kaput is contracted by the moles as they crawl through the tunnels. Kaput gets on the moles paws and coat and is then ingested by the mole as it grooms to clean itself. Unlike grain baits, Kaput does not have to be eaten. The mole inadvertently crawls into the gel and does not know what has happened. During the grooming process, the Kaput is ingested but is not a bait. Control with Kaput takes about 3-5 days once the moles ingests any of these products.

Meadow Vole Control

Meadow Vole

(meadow mice)

Meadow voles are small, chunky rodents; adults are about 7 inches long. The tail is usually short, about 1-1/2 inches. Their ears are furred and do not project much above the hair on their heads. Mature meadow voles are chestnut brown mixed with black on the back. Their underparts are dark gray, and their feet are brown. The thinly haired tail is dark on the upper surface, shading to a lighter gray beneath. Young meadow voles are uniformly gray.

Most professionals sometimes confuse meadow voles with moles and shrews. But moles are easily distinguished from voles because they have greatly enlarged front feet, with prominent digging claws. And shrews have long, pointed snouts and needle-pointed front teeth, whereas meadow mice have rounded, somewhat blunt snouts, and their front teeth are chisel shaped.

 

Pocket Gopher Control

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Pocket Gopher

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