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How To Kill and Get Rid of Moles and Gophers


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 the Victor Out of Sight Mole Trap is the easiest trap to use and provides "proof of catch". The Victor "harpoon trap" also works well, but because it sticks up and out of the ground and can easily be knocked over. It is not recommended for use around cows, horses or pets. 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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Killing Grubs To Control 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 insects in a lawn are eliminated through repeated applications of insecticides, the moles would be forced to seek other, more insect infested areas. However, mole damage would likely 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. If you are convinced that you need to apply something to kill the moles, then consider using either Merit 75 or Dominion 2L to kill and control grubs. Be sure to check with your county agricultural extension service to know when the optimum "window" of time during the summer is to control grubs.

Poison Gases For Mole Control

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.

The "Giant Destroyer" Smoke Bomb is the only "bomb" type product available to non-licensed persons. The bomb is actually a small cartridge that it lit with a match or lighter and placed into the moles tunnel. It then releases a smoke that contains Sodium Nitrate and Sulphur that basically runs the mole out of their tunnel. If using this method, be prepared to either capture or kill the mole by whatever method you choose when the mole runs out. Using a brick or concrete paver placed over tunnel openings can sometimes trap the mole inside the tunnel which can result in death. Don't expect this to be the case. Be prepared to do something with the mole - ie "shotgun", "pitchfork", etc when the mole runs out.

Poison Baits For Mole Control

Like poison gases, poisoned baits (nuts grain pellets and gels) such as Kaput or Talpirid can also give good results, but primarily in lawns where earthworms and insects are not abundant.

Talpirid is a synthetic 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 any other rodent such as rat or mouse.

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.

How To Apply Poison Baits For Moles

When applying poison mole baits, it is very important that the bait be made available to mole with a minimum of dirt or contamination and also be completely sealed from access by pets such as dogs, etc.

When applying poison mole baits, the best method is to simply use a dowel rod or some sort of spike and poke a hole into the top of tunnel. At the very least, make a hole into the middle of the tunnel. For best results, do this in the middle, and near both ends. Make the hole clean and into center of the tunnel. Place the bait into the hole and then cover with a brick, cement pad or some kind of heavy object. This covers the hole, blocks access to the bait from pets and sunlight, but more importantlly, keeps the bait CLEAN.

Baits such as Kaput are a gel. If you put dirt back into the hole, it will fall on top of the bait, and make it virtually worthless. Kaput requires the mole to get the bait onto their paws or coat from which they will groom and lick it off.

Talpirid is a gummy worm bait, that if it gets dirty will be hard for the mole to find it. This bait must be eaten. For this reason, the mole must be able to see the worm bait. Dropping the Talpirid worm into the hole and then covering the hole with dirt will cover the worm with dirt. Don't make this mistake. Keep the hole clean, the bait clean and cover the hole with something that will not allow dirt to fall back into the hole.

How Long Does It Take Poison Mole Baits To Work?

Control of moles using baits usually takes several days up to a few weeks. The mole may not eat the bait or may avoid the bait at first. Once the mole eats the bait, depending on which chemical it contains, it can then take up to a week or more for the mole to die. It is not instant. Don't assume that the bait does not work just because the moles are not dead or not dying. A perfect application of bait is probably not going to happen until you get some experience in applying it.

Poison mole baits must also be reapplied on a frequent basis. Don't expect 1 application of mole bait to kill all of the moles. If you follow the above steps and still have moles, then it is probably due to the fact that you didn't use enough bait, didn't put into the correct areas, placed it in old tunnels, or there are more moles than what you thought. There can be multiple reasons why you don't get control. Don't assume just because you stick the bait into a mole tunnel that it should work. Remember, you are dealing with a creature that has been around for millions of years. It takes some thought, work and strategy to kill them.

Not applying enough bait, (it can take a lot of bait - read the manufacturers instructions on how much bait to use) and not applying enough bait over a period of time are the main reasons that control is not obtained. Professional companies that use these products use a lot of bait, and make frequent visits. They put you on a program. This is not a 1 time treatment, nor is it an exact science. Use enough bait, keep it clean, keep it plentiful and keep a record of when you apply it. If you do this, eventually, you will get control of moles using poison baits.

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

Do UltraSound Devices Placed Into The Ground Kill Moles?

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