Monday, January 10, 2011


Moles, Moles, Moles, and more Moles where is the miracle cure? With the vast array of pest control products and other situations we deal with, it amazes me that the mole (a dirt dwelling mammal) is the Lowcountry’s number one pest in the yard according to the calls we get and the questions we get in the stores.

Termites eat millions of dollars of structures a year. Cockroaches are nasty and cause problems for asthma sufferers. Rats, mice and squirrels eat wires in homes causing fires, and tear up duct work and insulation increasing your power bill. Gnats, mosquitoes and fire ants are biting and or sucking the blood out of you sometimes resulting in death and still do not raise the questions that the mole does.

The mole stays underground most of the time, destroying the beauty of your lawn and beds with tunnels – that’s it. We work hard to get a nice yard and they destroy it – Game on! Moles are definitely a big problem for this area.

Since moles are a mammal, they are a little harder to control than insects or other things that bother us in the yard. With insects you can use products that affect insects and do not affect mammals. With moles you have to be careful not to harm other mammals in your yard like children and pets.

Trapping moles is one option. Some people are very good with traps and are highly successful at catching moles; however, most people are not as skilled. Having traps in your yard might also attract the curiosity of other mammals (children and pets) that you do not want to injure. If you trap moles, you still want to control your mole cricket and grub population that could damage your turf.

We have heard many success stories with the Rodent Smoke Bombs. The bombs involve lighting a fuse and smoke, everyone’s dream way to get revenge on these rascals. At first I thought this was more of a “manly man” (Bubba) activity; however, we have had quite a few sophisticated looking females boasting their triumph over the mole. Limit their use to outdoors and please be careful. With the Rodent Smoke Bombs you do not have to be as skilled; however, you will still want to manage the insects in your soil that damage turf (mole crickets and grubs).

I still recommend a 3 prong approach when controlling moles for the less adventurous. These 3 steps are:

  1. Kill the mole
  2. Manage its food source
  3. Repel other moles from your yard

Moles tunnel through your yard looking for food. They usually have several main runs through your yard as well as secondary tunnels. The secondary tunnels are where they collect their food and once they have a gone down a secondary tunnel they will not return to that tunnel. In order to kill a mole with bait or a trap, you must be able to locate the main tunnel.

The best way to locate the main runs is to take a stick and poke holes in the tunnels in your yard. Next, mark where you made these holes. The next morning come and check to see if the holes are plugged, then you know you have a main tunnel. The mole will only plug holes on the main tunnel. That evening, open up one of the holes that the mole plugged the night before and place bait 5 feet on either side of the hole that you reopened. When the mole comes back to re-plug the hole it will have to walk right over the bait. These baits are very tasty to the mole, so the mole will usually eat the bait and die.

Three baits that we regularly hear good results about are Mole Patrol, TomCat and Talpirid. I prefer Mole Patrol because it is one third the price and has 6 times the amount of bait placement as Talpirid. Stay away from poison peanuts. Moles do not eat peanuts, they eat insects and worms.

Controlling the food source is the next most important factor in managing moles on your property. Depending on which doctor you believe, the mole eats 85-125% of its body weight everyday. In human terms a 100 lb. person would eat 85-125 lbs of food per day. That is a lot of food! Using a product like Lebanon Insect Control or Aloft on a regular basis will do a good job in managing the mole’s food source. Monitor your insect populations with a soap solution to determine how often you need to apply insecticides. Use two ounces of lemon dish detergent in a five gallon bucket of water and pour slowly over your soil in the areas where you think you might have insects and see what comes to the surface. Some products get tied up in the thatch to kill surface insects so be sure to get a product for sub-surface insects.

Castrol products (Mole Repellent, Holy Moly) and other repellents (Mole Stopper) work good as perimeter treatments to keep moles from re-infesting your property. Be sure there are not any moles on your property before you put out this barrier or you will trap them inside your landscape. Make a 10-20 foot band treatment around the perimeter of your property. Reapply these repellents as the label recommends.

If you yard is free of moles right now, you can skip #1 and just manage their food source and repel them at the perimeter of your property. Be sure your yard is free of moles before you skip #1 in this process. If you take away the mole’s food source and he is in your yard already, he will really tear up your yard looking for food!

As it gets cooler, it is the time to kill them. Try to take away their food source, and try to repel them from your property and you should have good luck against the moles. Beware moles usually get more active as the temperature cools.

If the three prong approach sounds too involved, get your “Bic on a stick” lighter and smoke’m.

Always Read, Understand, and Follow the product label.