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Digging For Moles

May 8, 2015


Have you ever walked your yard and almost broke your neck because the turf you were stepping on caved in? If so, you’ve most likely stepped on a mole runway. But before you start rolling out the hose to take care of this critter “Caddyshack style,” you may want to read on and familiarize yourself more with it and see that it can actually be beneficial to your yard.

Moles aren’t rodents. They aren’t on the same diet plan as rats and mice. Moles are insect-eating mammals. Other animals of this sort include hedgehogs and shrews. But unlike their ancestors, moles live mostly underground. They are nature’s most gifted burrowers.

Moles have large, powerful front feet to push the soil around with. They are 5 1/2 to 6 inches long and have a bald tail 1 to 1-1/2 inches long. They have soft fur that doesn’t project towards their tail so in the instance that they are tunneling forward and backward, the soil doesn’t get trapped under their coat. Their fur is slate gray with a velvety sheen.

Most commonly, there are the Eastern mole and the star-nosed mole. The latter has finger-like projections which protrude from the nose. I will be discussing the Eastern Mole.

Habitat and Food

The Eastern Mole prefers loose, well-drained soils. Moles dislike tunneling through mud. They will strategically tunnel around plant roots, looking for earthworms and insects to eat. In this way, moles are beneficial and will eat the most common lawn pests: mole crickets, beetle larvae, ants, moth larvae, army worms, and slugs. Because of a mole’s tunneling nature, they also aerate the soil which will deliver more air to vegetation.

Fun Facts:

  • Moles can tunnel up to 18 feet per hour.

  • They live in chambers 6 to 12 inches below the surface.

  • A mole chamber is 4 to 6 inches in diameter.

Reproduction

Mole mothers have one litter a year, whereas 2 to 5 babies make up a litter. Moles mostly give birth in the month of March. Keep this in mind the next time you’re strolling your yard in the Spring!

Damage and Control

In terms of damage to your yard, moles cause cosmetic damage ONLY. They don’t feed on the roots of plants, they simply eat around them. They are actually benefiting the plants by getting rid of the insects that actually do feed on the plants.

If you are a homeowner and are bothered by the collapsed areas of your lawn and unsightly dirt piles, you can try to capture moles without a permit. Flooding tunnels with water can bring moles to the surface, but not in sandy soils. Commercial mole traps are not the way to go because they impale the mole with spikes or choke them with choker loop. Pretty gruesome, eh?

You can take preventative measures against moles by controlling the populations of pest insects. Eliminating white grubs, mole crickets and soil insects will keep the moles away. To do this, you will need a professional lawn pest control technician. Instead of using pesticides, a good Integrated Pest Management technician will use nematodes or other beneficial bacteria that are harmful to insects. For the best around in I.P.M. practices and mole control, contact the professionals here at Nozzle Nolen today and schedule your free inspection!




 

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