This fall I was walking in my back yard and found a number of raised tunnels, can you believe it? It brought back fond memories of watching Caddyshack with Bill Murray playing Karl Spackler, the famous golf superintendent trying so hard to get rid of Mr. Gopher, what a hoot! That was funny, but moles or voles in your yard are not. They are major pests and people have tried all kinds of ways to get rid of them.
What’s the difference between moles and voles? Moles eat insects while voles eat plant roots. Moles are just plain ugly and voles look much like mice but have shorter tails. Moles like to eat earthworms best and grubs and other soil insects act as appetizers if earthworms are not present. Moles tend to come and go with the weather and are very sensitive to light even though they do not have eyes; they are so ugly while voles are more of a winter problem. I have seen voles burrowing beneath a few feet of snow cover, yuck! Moles are capable of tunneling up to 100 feet per day and also may eat up to 100% of their body weight, can you imagine that? If you are able to address your mole population in the spring it lessons their activity throughout the year. Sometimes mole tunnels are more prevalent after a rain in the spring and fall since they tend to burrow deeper into the ground during summer and winter months. Voles tend to burrow along the surface of your yard during spring and fall avoiding hot, summer days.
They are several ways to control these varmints and a combination of home remedies may be required to keep tricking them into going to your neighbor’s yard. Determine if your lawn has had grubs in the past or other soils insects that may attract moles. An application of Grub and Insect Control in late spring will help to reduce the moles food source.
There are many home remedies outlined in blogs on the Internet to control moles and voles including, moth balls, red pepper, human hair, cats, dogs, hawks, shovels, used kitty litter, chewing gum, hoses, and hose flooding of tunnels. I am not going to say one is better than the other, if one doesn’t work, try something else!
Other methods include repellents which contain castor oil. They usually are available in a granular form that you spread over the tunnel areas in an attempt to move them over to your neighbor’s yard. There are also gassing bombs, be very careful to follow the directions and keep children and pets away from the area. Different types of traps can be also effective. Decide if you want to trap the critters and move them to another area 10 miles down the road or use a trap that will be set to kill them. You may also be able to find vibration or noise devices to move them off of your property. Baits can be used that look like earthworms so moles are attracted to them, eat them and die. Be sure to use them properly away from children access, they look like “chewy gummies”.
We like earthworms in the yard so moles reducing the earthworm populations is certainly a negative and reason to get rid of moles. However, having some moles and voles in your yard are not all bad, there are some natural benefits. Burrows and tunnels offer some aeration. Moles help to reduce grub populations so the lawn can survive better. Moles and voles will tend to move to new territories to find food sources and hopefully will not be around your yard for long.
If you are tired of trying to get rid of these varmints, get a copy of Caddyshack and have a laugh. At least you do not have gophers to get rid of (I hope!). Happy Holidays!