We’ve talked before about unwanted visitors in your client’s garden, but one we have yet to discuss is the illusive underground traveler: the mole.
While they may not seem like the holy terror compared to other backyard pests, over time the raised trails they create can destroy roots, which results in brown patches all around the yard.
Even though it’s not your customer’s goal in life to have moles in their yard, it actually means that the soil is rich and ample with moisture, which results in a yard teaming with underground life. This underground life is the main course for hungry moles.
While moles also do help aerate the soil and munch on larvae, grubs and earthworms, the outward destruction they wreak topside makes them an unwanted guest in many yards.
If your customers have already seen the tell-tale signs of moles in the yard, assure them that there are a few things they can do to keep these critters at bay and get their yard back to pristine condition.
There are many different underground varmints that can inhabit a yard, so being able to correctly identify a mole will be beneficial.
Moles are burrowing insectivores that can grow to be 6 to 8 inches long, and they can have grey or black velvet-like fur, small eyes and ears and slender hairless snouts. A mole’s long front foot claws act much like a hoe when digging, and they tend to live alone except in the spring for breeding season. This means that even though there are multiple tunnels around the yard, it’s most likely the cause of just one mole.
Commonly mistaken for a mole are voles and shrews. Voles and shrews are more rat-like in comparison to moles. Voles have rounded ears, reddish or brown and black fur and they prefer to live in low-lying or creeping vegetation. They are primarily herbivores and, unlike moles, will feed on bulbs, roots, seeds and bark.
Shrews do have pointed snouts and their front feet are not enlarged. Shrews, like moles, do have tiny eyes and many habitats. Shrews feed on earthworms, small animals, slugs, insects, roots and seeds.
How they live
Learning more about how moles live before attempting to remove them can also prove beneficial. Moles are constantly building new feeding tunnels and may not even use the same one twice. Exit mounds will typically be found around the landscape, and they are round and symmetrical and pushed up into a volcano-like fashion.
These mounds are connected to main runways, which are not usually visible and are 12-18 inches underground. Moles will typically choose moist, sandy loam soils over dry, heavy clay soils, and they are most active during wet, warm months.
Overwatering a lawn can be one of the first steps in creating a mole-friendly environment, so talk to your customers about how often they are watering their lawns. If it does seem to be excessive, tell them that tapering off just a bit can help discourage moles from wanting to stick around in soil that isn’t as welcoming.
Another method to look into is the use of sonic mole repellents, which emit a pulse for five seconds in 20-second intervals. These vibrations will irritate the mole and force them to seek out somewhere else to live. The vibrations on many of these devices are also low-key enough that they won’t bother less sensitive animals like pets.
Plant repellents such as marigolds, garlic, shallots, allium, fritillaria and daffodils can naturally repel moles while also adding some beautiful plants to the yard. Placing them around the perimeter of the yard can help stop moles before they even reach the yard.
Remove their food source
Another way to get moles to leave your client’s yard alone is to take away the reason they want to nest there: their food source. Without some tasty snacks to munch on, the moles will have no choice but to skedaddle.
Moles are strictly insectivores, so your customers won’t have to worry about moles turning to plants as a backup food source once the bugs are absent. Milky spore bacteria can naturally reduce grub populations, so consider adding it to the fertilizer when you treat your customer’s lawn.
If all else fails and the mole problem continues or worsens, advise customers to call a professional pest control company to handle it.