Just in Time for Spring! The Mysterious, Misunderstood Mole

David Bennett

It’s spring!  Time for mole tunnels!  

So, it’s time for our annual mole article, because we want to help you get your arsenal set up as well as your know how—forewarned is forearmed, as they say!  Now, it may not seem that the mole is a complicated creature. He burrows underground and builds tunnels that create a soft and unsightly yard for you.   We don’t see the mole, so he seems to lead a rather hidden, mysterious life.  However, the mole is more complex than he might appear, and in this article, we will explore the mysterious, misunderstood mole!


Moles  at a Glance

First of all, just because they burrow, doesn’t mean they’re rodents!  Moles are not rodents at all, but a completely different animal, as the figure of speech goes. Tomcat.com tells us“One reason moles are often mistaken for rodents is that rodents like pocket gophers and voles often take safe passage in abandoned mole tunnels. One telltale sign of rodents versus moles is this: Rodents make clearly visible entry and exit holes to the tunnels. Moles do not.”  According to Havahart.com, there are seven different species of moles in the United States, with the most common being the Eastern Mole.   Males are called “boars,” and females are called “sows.”   They have good vision, despite living underground, and they have unbelievably adapted sensory abilities that cause them to be able to detect the smallest vibrations.  They give birth underground, to 3 or four pups, once a year, usually in March.  They are found on every continent except for Antarctica and South America, and live in grasslands, urban areas, gardens, sand dunes, mixed woodland, or any area that has soil where they can dig tunnels. They tend to stay away from areas with acidic soil and mountainous areas. 

Where They Live

Now, you might think that where moles live is nasty and damp and dirty, but like any respectable hobbit house, the mole house is really quite lovely.   They not only have tunnel highways, but they also put in chambers that serve as sleeping areas and birthing places.  If given the opportunity, moles are homebodies, and will live in a series of tunnels for generations before moving. They even have kitchens and storerooms for their food, which largely consists of earthworms, which gets kind of weird. They make the earthworms like zombies by biting their heads off and a special toxin in their saliva keeps them (weirdly enough), alive and immobile and—fresh.  As many as 470 worms have been recorded one chamber storeroom!  Tunnels tend to be about 1-1/4 inches to 1-1/2 inches in diameter.  Moles have to forage quite widely for food.  They eat their body weight per day in earthworms, so they are formidable eaters!


How They Live

They’re loners, totally.  They’re such loners that three to five moles per acre is considered to be a lot.  They spend their time digging tunnels and looking for food.  

Mole Control—No Pesticides, Lawn Chemicals or Insecticides Please!

So moles don’t mean to be a pest. They are actually quite helpful to us humans. According to The Chronicle Online, they consume lots of garden pests, including slugs, ants, grubs, moth larvae (like cut and army worms) and — wait for it — mole crickets!”   It’s their tunnels that destroy our lawns.  There’s a myth, according to Tim Gibb of the Purdue University Extension, “that grubs are the reason that moles are in a lawn. If that were true, moles would starve when the grubs are not present (during late spring and early summer). We know that moles continue to survive, because the majority of their diet consists of the ever-present earthworm. So let’s clear up one more myth: That you can control moles by killing grubs in your lawn. Even if grubs were a substantial part of their food and you could remove them, moles would only be forced to forage more widely, thus creating more tunnels, ridges and mounds – exactly what

A268AK The pocket gopher lives underground in tunnels it digs.

homeowners do not want.”  The Chronicle Online adds to this “What some folks don’t know is that they do not eat plant roots (that’s pocket gophers) and they do not leave mixing-bowl-size piles of dirt (that’s pocket gophers again). The most important thing some folks don’t know is that the chemical remedy is worse than the moles themselves. Nuking a yard with pesticides in order to rid a lawn of a food source for moles is a great example of using a cannonball when a BB will do. The University of Florida publication on mole control has suggestions such as lethal traps like our mole scissor traps or Loop Traps and how to make your yard generally less attractive to moles. Now, it’s important to note that moles dig 2 types of tunnels—surface tunnels, which appear in the spring and the fall, with the accompanying large molehills, which are the unsightly ones you see, and deep tunnels, which is where they go to escape predation and also when the soil dries up in summer and worms migrate deeper underground.  If you’re going to control moles, it’s important that you understand their tunnels. For an interesting view of mole tunnels both surface and deep, check out Moles Unlimited! 

How do you tell the difference between mole hills and gopher hills?  Moles Unlimited explains: “The

volcano shaped mounds moles make are often confused with gopher mounds; but gopher mounds always have a visible plug and the mound is usually crescent shaped. Mole mounds are round, as a column of soil is pushed straight up out of the ground and then topples over to create the volcano shape.”


Tomcatbrand.com describes them: “Surface runways are raised, brown, grassless streaks created in your yard as the mole tunnels just below the surface. These unsightly patches are considered either primary or exploratory runways.

Primary runways are long and relatively straight, so that’s how they look on the surface of the lawn, too. Because moles use them to travel from tunnel to tunnel as often as 3 times a day, they’re considered active tunnels.

Exploratory runways, on the other hand, look more like an above-ground spider web. They’re created as moles explore new feeding areas, and they’re often abandoned.

Deep tunnels are located at least 3 feet underground and are used to house the mole’s living, food storage, and latrine areas. On the surface, deep tunnels look like what most people think of as a molehill: a large mound of pushed-up soil and debris.”

When you set traps, you want to make sure you do it before summer when moles follow the earthworms underground.  You want to set them in the primary straight runways of those surface tunnels.  While there are a variety of mole traps on the market, Wildlife Removal.com suggests that with scissor traps such as we sell that “these traps are set over an active surface tunnel, with the scissor blades in the ground, on each side of the tunnel. When the mole crawls through the tunnel again, it triggers the trap, and the blades snap together, killing the mole…Finding the right mole tunnels to set the traps on is imperative. The more active, the better. Straight tunnels, or ones against edges (like a house or sidewalk) are a good bet for repeated use. The branching, winding tunnels that stretch out to nowhere might just be one-time use feeding tunnels, and thus not heavily travelled and not as productive for trapping. It is not effective to set on top of mole hills. “   The Mole Man adds “Trapping in early spring, before new litters are born, prevents a lot of trouble later. Moles may seem to vanish during extended cold or dry periods, but they’ve just gone deeper. And because they’re using fewer tunnels during these adverse conditions, trapping can be very effective, though difficult.’  In this case, the early trapper gets the mole!   Visit our arsenal to add to yours We have everything you could want in effective, durable, formidable, humane killing traps whether it be rat, mole, squirrel, mink, martens or fisher cats, We have the best arsenal for every pest control company’s toolbox!

Tags: Eco Friendly, Environmental impact, Fenn Trap, Gopher, Instructional, Integrated Pest Management, Lawn Care, Mk 4 Fenn Trap, MK6 Fenn Trap, Mole Hills, Mole Loop traps, Mole Scissor Trap, Mole traps, Mole tunnels, Moles, National Pest Management Association, National Wildlife Control Operators Association, NPMA, NWCOA, Pest Control, Pesticide, PestWorld2019, Pocket gophers, Pollution, Wildlife removal

One thought on “Just in Time for Spring! The Mysterious, Misunderstood Mole

  1. Roxana Daniela says:

    Sympathetic, beautiful story ! I’m at war with some clients that don’t want to protect their gardens, but to kill the moles… Have I your permission to translate and use your press article in order to educate my crew and few stubborn clients? Thanks! PS – I’ll read now the story about rodents at White House.

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