Moles are unwelcome guests on your land: These adorable pests can damage your lawn, your vegetable garden, and plant roots. The unsightly mounds of soil and raised ridges ruining your lawn may have you asking how to get rid of moles and keep them away.
What Does Mole Damage Look Like?
Here’s how to tell you’re dealing with a mole.
Mole Hills and Tunnels
Mole hills look like little volcanoes. Mole hills, also called mole mounds, are a symmetrical and circular mound of dirt that leads to an underground network of tunnels.
Ever see the movie “Tremors”? Well, mole tunnels can make it seem as if you have some of those nasty monster worms roaming your yard. Their underground tunnels cause raised ridges on your lawn and serve a dual purpose: Tunnels are how moles hide from predators and how they hunt.
There are two types of mole tunnels:
- Surface runways: Slightly raised, grassless brown streaks running across the lawn indicate tunnels just under the topsoil.
- Deep tunnels: Usually 3-feet underground, are like complex homes. These include a food storage area and bathroom areas. You can identify them by the mole tunnel entrance and exits.
Once moles decide to infest your lawn, they can cause significant damage in a very short period of time. One mole can tunnel up to 18 feet per hour in the right conditions, so it’s important to get rid of the moles quickly!
How To Get Rid Of Moles
How can you get rid of moles? You can trap these furry pests, use repellents, apply DIY methods such as castor oil, and maybe scare them away with ultrasonic noisemakers.
1. Mole Traps
Use a mole trap (or a mouse trap, since moles are about the size of a large mouse). Some traps will kill moles. Others will catch moles that you can release (at least 5 miles away from your home is best). The goal of traps, though, is mole removal dead or alive.
Pro Tip: Wear gloves when handling mole traps, as moles dislike people. Your human scent will scare them away from your trap.
2. Mole Bait
Mole baits look and smell like earthworms. Drop these in a mole hole and your pest will take the bait, eat it and die in its tunnel.
3. Mole Repellents
Often the key ingredient in mole repellents is castor oil, which is non-toxic. These castor oil repellents come in granular, liquid, or spray form.
- Granular: Granulated repellents tend to last longer than liquid or spray options.
- Liquid: The liquid variety is commonly diluted before use. If the ratio is wrong in mixing, it can reduce the efficacy of the product, and too high a concentration can damage the lawn. Always read directions carefully.
- Spray: Is an easy solution. You can apply directly to the lawn, but it needs to be reapplied more often then the granular or liquid.
4. Castor Oil and Other DIY Home Remedies
Castor oil is a non-toxic, effective pest deterrent and won’t damage your lawn. You can buy at garden centers, hardware stores, or online at places like Amazon.
Create a spray that is made with 100% castor oil, water, and liquid detergent. Here’s the DIY mole repellent recipe from the University of Nebraska:
6 ounces castor oil
2 tablespoons dish soap
1 gallon of water
- Water the area to be treated with one-half inch of water before applying this solution.
- Add castor oil and dish soap to 1 gallon of water. After the solution is mixed well, dilute 1 ounce of solution per gallon of water and spread it evenly over your yard with a spray bottle or sprayer.
- Water the treated area again with at least 1 inch of water after you apply the castor oil spray.
Moles are mostly blind, but they can smell in stereo! You can add cayenne pepper (moles hate spiciness) or essential oils like eucalyptus and mint oil (two smells to get rid of moles) to increase the potency.
Other DIY Home Remedies
Old coffee grounds scattered around the tunnel entrances or exits can be a natural repellent as the smell annoys their sensitive noses.
How about mothballs? Their powers of repelling moles are a myth.
5. Go Ultrasonic
Ultrasonic noise solar stakes placed near the tunnels may drive away the moles — or may not.
Animal damage control expert Judy Loven says these are a waste of money. “It’s a nice idea,” she told Purdue University’s news service. “They don’t work at all, but I wish they did.”
6. Fence Them Out
Burying hardware cloth and erecting in-ground fences will prevent moles from building their homes or tunneling into garden beds.
7. Hire a Pest Control Pro
Call a pest control professional. For extensive mole problems, hire a pest control service or wildlife relocation professional to handle the mole removal.
How to Deter Moles
You don’t want a mole hole leading to a mountain of a problem. Once you have said goodbye, you’ll want to keep them out.
- Protective plants: Some plants like alliums, daffodils, fritillarias, garlic, marigolds, and shallots are natural pest repellents and drive away the moles’ food source. Planting these in your flower bed or around your vegetable garden will help keep pests away.
- Mulch and compost piles: These are a magnet for moles. If you’re making your own compost, try using enclosed bins. Thick layers of mulch piled up against tree trunks or plant stems can attract insect pests and cause decay.
- Remove their food source: Milky spore and other beneficial nematodes will kill the grubs that moles eat.
- Correct drainage Issues: If you find areas where water is collecting it, it may be time to level your lawn. It will save damage in the long run and won’t attract moles to the soft ground and bugs.
What is a Mole?
You usually wouldn’t see a mole scurrying about the yard as they are nocturnal and spend most of the time underground. They’re especially fond of areas with soft, moist ground to dig in. These shy lawn pests are rarely seen, but you’ll know if it’s a mole when it has:
- Velvety fur
- Small eyes and ears
- Large front paws
- Narrow nose, like a snout
- Tiny body, 4.4 to 6.25 inches in length
What Moles Eat
Moles are insectivores, feasting on grubs, insects, larvae, and earthworms (which are beneficial for a healthy lawn or garden).
Daffodil bulbs are toxic, which is why moles may avoid their roots. Marigolds help deter moles as the natural chemicals in the plant may repel the grubs and insects that are their food source.
Deep tunnels, usually 3-feet underground, are like complex homes. These include a food storage area and bathroom areas.
Set a mole trap, use bait or repellents (such as castor oil), install an in-ground fence, or hire a professional.
Look for raised linear ridges and volcano-shaped mounds in your lawn that are closed off with soil pushed up from underground.
If you find multiple lines of ridges entering and exiting your yard, it’s a sign of mole infestation.
When To Hire A Professional
For extensive mole problems, hire a pest control service or wildlife relocation professional to handle the mole removal. Call a pest control professional today.