Moles and Mole Management

Broad-footed Moles (Scapanus latimanus) have forefeet as wide as they are long; that’s how they got their name!

Is it a gopher or a mole?  All you know is that something is tearing up your lawn! Here’s how you can tell the difference…look closely at the mounds. Moles create perfect circular mounds of dirt, right on top of their burrows, whereas gophers leave u-shaped, semi-circles to the entrance of their tunnels.

About Moles

There’s a misconception that moles are rodents but they are not. Moles are indeed mammals and look like a sort of rodent but belong to a group of mammals called insectivores.

Moles do have eyes but very poor vision.

Feeding on insects in the amount of their body weight, per day, is why your grass is all torn up. Another misconception is that moles are blind. Moles do have eyes and can see light and movement. Their preferred food is grubs but they will consume a plethora of other insects. They’re about 7 inches long (body) with a tail of a little over an inch. Moles can live up to four years and although they are solitary creatures, they do share some of the same tunnels with other moles, a sort of “communal highway.”

Mole Behavior

A surface feeding burrow and mole.

Moles live underground where they create permanent tunnels about 2 inches in diameter and 8 to 12 inches below the surface. When a mole does surface, it pushes the dirt straight up, making a circular mound of dirt. Ridges of runways occur from surface feeding burrows as moles tunnel through the dirt in search of insects. These runways are close to the surface where there’s an abundance of worms, caterpillars, and other insects for moles to eat. Although moles are active throughout the year, surface activity, however, is often absent during periods of extreme cold, heat, or drought. If you have moles, you’ll notice most activity after a rain or even frequent watering which makes tunneling easier.

A series of circular mounds is a sure sign you’ve got moles!

Mole Damage and Prevention

Surface burrows are often temporary but wreak havoc to your landscape, especially lawns! Occasionally moles may consume plant roots and bulbs but most plant damage is due to Gophers and Squirrels, as well as Voles. If moles are a problem in your garden landscape, there are some preventative methods to save your plants. These also help deter gophers and squirrels from getting to the roots of your plants. Vertical underground barriers can provide temporary relief but eventually a mole will tunnel around or underneath it.

Mole damage to grass makes your landscape unsightly and is a tripping hazard!

A more effective approach would be to place wire-mesh baskets around bulbs and to use raised beds with wire-mesh bottoms for vegetable and flower gardens. Damage from tunnels and mounds made by moles is significant in several ways; lawns become unsightly, roots exposed kills the grass, and, your yard becomes a danger zone for kids and pets! Ongoing mole infestations may require professional pest control. Hearts Pest Management provides free landscape inspections for moles and a monthly service to control not just moles, but voles, gophers and squirrels, as well as rats and mice. Call today for a free inspection and more information on the services we provide!
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