Moles in Turf
Moles are omnivores and they may be distinguished from voles by noting certain characteristics. Moles have a hairless, pointed snout extending nearly 1⁄2 inch (1.3 cm) in front of the mouth. Their small eyes and opening of the ear canals are concealed in fur, there are no external ears. The forefeet are long and broad, with palms wider than they are long. The toes are webbed to the base of the claws, which are broad and depressed. The hind feet are small and narrow, with slender claws. The average length of the male and female mole is 7 inches (17.6 cm) and 65⁄8 (16.8 cm) respectively.
Management is difficult. Management of white grubs may help to a small degree as well as the use of some repellants. Trapping is difficult and labor intensive. There are no easy answers to mole management and turfgrass managers often employ the services of those who specialize in rodent control.
Methods for control and damage prevention are exclusion, cultural methods such as packing the soil, frightening, repellents, toxicants, fumigants, and trapping. Methods that may be effective are: exclusion, for small areas, such as seed beds; packing the soil or reducing the soil moisture which may reduce the habitat's attractiveness; reducing their food supply by killing grubs with insecticides and trapping, which is the most successful and practical method of getting rid of moles. There are several mole traps on the market. Each, if properly handled, will give good results. The so-called mole plant or caper spurge (Euphorbia latharis), which is advertised to act as a mole repellent when placed throughout flowerbeds, has no known research that supports this claim. The use of caster beans, which are poisonous to humans, and electromagnetic devices are also unproven methods of mole control. There are no short cuts or magic wands when controlling moles.
Before initiating a control program for moles, be sure that they are truly out of place. Moles play an important role in the management of soil and of grubs that destroy lawns. Tunneling through the soil and shifting of soil particles permits better aeration of the soil and subsoil, carrying humus further down and bringing the subsoil nearer the surface where the elements of plant food may be made available.
- How to control moles and reduce turfgrass damage. Anonymous. 2012. University of Missouri Integrated Pest Management.
- How to Use Traps to Catch Nuisance Wildlife in Your Yard. Ober H. K. and A. Kane. University of Florida IFAS Extension.
- Moles in the lawn, What works and doesn’t to deter moles from tunneling in turf. Frank, K. 2011. Michigan State University Extension.
- White Grubs in Turf Entomology Insect Notes. Brandenburg, R. and P. Hertl. 2002. NC State Extension Publication AG-367.
- 2018 Pest Control for Professional Turfgrass Managers. Bowman, D. et al. 2017. NC State Extension Publication AG-408. 81 pp.
- Extension Plant Pathology Publications and Factsheets
- Horticultural Science Publications
- North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual
For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center