Summary: Mole control requires that you locate the tunnel the mole is actually using. Learn how to do that and mole control becomes easy.
A mole is quite a busy burrower. It burrows day and night because, after all, how would it be able to tell what time it is when it lives underground? Moles are active during the winter too. They burrow deeper underground when freezing weather comes, following their food source as it avoids the cold, as well. The onset of cold weather is also the time when moles are likely to breed and produce offspring. So, it is better to treat a mole problem during the fall before the moles give up their surface tunnels for the deeper tunnels where they will breed.
Moles burrow lots of tunnels because they need to eat a lot of food. When food is plentiful they dig fewer tunnels. When food gets scarce your lawn looks like a battlefield.
Moles have a high metabolism and need to eat amounts of earthworms and grubs equal to up to half their body weight per day. When finding food becomes difficult a mole can totally destroy a lawn in a short amount of time, burrowing up to 200 feet of tunnel per day! That is an impressive feat from such a small animal.
There are many home remedies for mole control. The surprising thing is that many of them can actually work if you approach the problem from the correct angle. Keep a cool head, understand your enemy and totally familiarize yourself with your battle implements.
Most homeowners think they are fighting a large number of moles because they see tunnels running all over the lawn. The truth is that there is probably only one mole causing all that trouble. Moles are territorial and will defend an area up to 400 feet in all directions. So, it is unlikely that you have two moles working as a team.
Strategy number one: Find out which tunnels the mole is using. Step on several of the shallow tunnels that you can see close to the surface. If the mole repairs the damage you did to the tunnel within the day, then you know that this is a favorite tunnel, also known as a runway. If you actually see the mole burrowing somewhere then you might be able to catch him on the spot with two shovels stuck on either side of it to trap it, and then popping the mole out like digging up a potato. Smack the mole on the head with one of the shovels and your mole problem is solved. A bit primitive, but effective. Moles are pretty quick, however, so mole whacking can be a challenge.
When you figure out which tunnels are the most frequently used you can try to set a trap. One humane method is the pitfall trap. Carefully open the top of a tunnel allowing as little dirt to fall down into the tunnel as possible. You don't want the mole to know that its runway has been tampered with. Dig a hole in the floor of the mole tunnel large enough to fit a large coffee can or bucket so its top is flush with the bottom of the mole tunnel floor. Place a few long leaves or over the bucket. Remember how Tarzan was forever falling into these traps set by the poachers? Anyway, place a covering over the top of the tunnel so no light can get in. The mole has very poor eyesight and, with luck, will fall into the trap and be unable to get out. Check the trap once or twice a day. If you find a mole you can remove it and release it in your mother-in-law's lawn.
There are easier mole traps to use like the Scissor-jaw trap or the harpoon trap. These traps will kill the mole and will cost a few bucks. An inexpensive mousetrap with peanut butter on it will also catch moles. Click here for more information about mole traps.
You could try to drive the mole away without using a trap, too. You could use a repellent product like Mole Scram or you could try to flood the mole out by turning on a hose and filling its tunnels with water. This also works best if you know approximately where the mole is residing. To make this method more effective you want to make a mixture of castor oil, cayenne pepper, and oil based soap and pour it in a sprayer attachment that you can fit on the end of a hose. This will make the floodwaters cause itchiness and irritation that might drive the mole away. The soap is important to the mixture because it helps the castor oil and cayenne pepper stick to the mole's skin. You may want to think twice about this method if the mole runs are too close to the foundation of the house. Nothing like successfully flushing a mole out of its tunnel only to find you have flooded your basement.
Sonic mole chasers are said to drive moles away. These electronic, battery driven devices send sound waves through the ground that are supposed to repel moles. The problem is that as soon as you turn off the device the moles come back. Apparently, the moles do not like any kind of noise disturbance in their tunnels. I have heard of people that have buried an inexpensive radio near a molehill, turned it on, and the moles go somewhere else unless they like your music selections. Then they have parties and invite their friends.
In that moles feed on live invertebrates, there is one bait product, Talpirid, that tricks the mole into thinking it is eating a live earthworm. We have found this bait to be very effective when used per the label instructions.
If you just want to keep a mole out of your garden, and not a large lawn, you could build a mole barrier. Dig a trench a foot wide and three feet deep around the area you want to protect and then fill in the trench with gravel or clay. The mole won't dig through this material in search of food, so it will try other locations. This might not work as well if the mole has already established tunnels through the area.
Bubblegum, mothballs and gas grenades have all been suggested as mole killers. I would suggest staying away from spraying chemicals that could harm your lawn or your family. Also, adding chemicals to your lawn might very well be illegal, depending on your state. Some states even forbid the killing of moles at all. You need to find out what the rules are in your state before taking action against the moles or you might face a stiff fine.
To add one more suggestion to the already long list, you can plant some plants that might help repel moles such as Castor Bean plants or œSkunk lilies. These plants have a noxious smell that may help keep the moles away, and they might even add some pretty flowers to your garden during the spring.