Although moles are extremely cute, furry mammals that are rarely seen, they are not welcome visitors to our gardens. They can cause serious damage to lawns, as well as flower beds and borders.
Moles are rarely seen, as they spend most of their time underground. Here they dig out a system of tunnels, feeding on small animals – such as worms and beetles – that fall into the tunnels.
They are most active in winter and spring, but can be present at any time of year.
The obvious symptom are their molehills – the soil excavated from the tunnels.
These cause severe disruption in the lawn, where they have to be removed and levelled off before mowing can begin. Also, their tunnels can collapse and have to be filled in to keep a level lawn surface.
In flower beds and borders, they can cause damage to plants where their tunneling damages and kills the roots.
Treatment and control
There are numerous ways of controlling moles – or encouraging them to go elsewhere. Some are effective – others are not.
Mole traps are the most effective method of control. Humane traps, which don't actually kill the mole, are often preferred.
To be effective they have to be used and placed carefully:
- Ideally, wash them first to remove any strange scents or rub soil over them, as moles have a very acute sense of smell.
- Always handle them with gloves, preferably rubbed with soil, to prevent them picking up any human scent.
- Don't place them in the molehills, but within the tunnels connecting the molehills.
- Make sure they are set squarely within the tunnel.
- Carefully cover over the hole where they have been set with turf to exclude any light entering the tunnel; placing an upturned bucket over the trap will also help, as well as prevent it being disturbed.
Mole scaring, battery-operated devices are available that produce a buzzing noise – the noise and the vibrations may scare the moles to go elsewhere. Unfortunately, this is often to another part of the garden! Some people swear by them, others find them ineffective.
Some people have success from placing the mechanism from singing birthday cards in the tunnel. Others say that children's spinning windmills also work, as they produce a disturbing noise and vibrations in the soil. Of course, they only work when it's windy.
Some people put mothballs or other strongly scented materials in the tunnels.
Others find that pouring male urine in the tunnels is the most effective method. Only male urine seems to work.
Get in a professional
In severe cases, you may want to pay for the services of a professional molecatcher – or local 'mole man'.