Are parts of your yard sinking due to what look like shallow tunnels? Have you spotted circular piles of dirt sprouting up on your otherwise flawless lawn? You might have moles, making those mounds molehills. But before you start thinking about how you're going to eject those dastardly critters that have been burrowing through your backyard, you might want to be sure they're actually moles.
Vole vs. Mole
Moles, voles, and groundhogs are often confused with one another, because they all burrow beneath the ground. However, while moles tend to make large holes like groundhogs do because they excavate soil, they often don't leave the lawn. If something has been dining on your garden goodies, chances are it isn't a mole.
"Moles only eat three things," Mike McGrath, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, You Bet Your Garden, explains. "They eat earthworms, they eat beetle grubs of the scarab beetle family, and they eat cicada larvae. So it's really easy to remember: Moles are teenage boys. They wouldn't eat a vegetable if you paid them. Voles are strictly vegetarian."
How to Get Rid of Moles
Since they don't chow down on homegrown produce, many gardeners don't mind moles; their tunneling can actually aerate the soil. However, these creatures can still cause plenty of damage. Those tunnels they dig aren't just eyesores: They can also disrupt the roots of your plants—and provide routes for other rodents.
Once you've determined moles are indeed the problem, McGrath advises buying a product with castor oil as the active ingredient, like Mole Scram. "You spread this material on the lawn and you water it in," McGrath says. "The theory is that it makes the ground smell so bad that the moles would rather live in the neighbor's lawn.
If that doesn't work, however, there are natural ways to kill the beetle grubs in your lawn. One of the newest products, GrubHALT, uses a naturally-occurring soil organism. If you put this into the soil, it kills Japanese beetle grubs and other grubs of the scarab beetle family, so you're eliminating at least one-third of the food source for moles."
Should those methods fail, planting daffodils, alliums, and marigolds may help, according to Nikki Tilley, senior editor of Gardening Know How. "Moles tend to avoid these," she notes. "I don't like advocating the use of traps or poisons—killing these animals should only be your last resort."
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