Learn About Moles
The Coast Mole that we have around Vancouver is easily identified by its large, paddle-like front feet used for digging extensive tunnel systems. Due to its specialised bone and muscle structure, a mole is able to exert a lateral digging force of up to 32 times their body weight!! That might explain how they can create 30 metres or more of new tunnels each day!
Although they do have eyes, moles are virtually blind. To compensate, nature has given them incredibly refined senses of touch and smell.
Moles are insectivores (they eat insects). While they may control some insect outbreaks, mole activity can also cause considerable damage to lawns in the form of big dirt mounds, turf sponginess, tunnels and/or depressions, and damaged plant root systems. Mole tunnels also provide cover or travel lanes for other small mammals.
Want to see something really weird? Do a Google search for images of the "Star-nosed mole" found out east!
If you are like most homeowners, you are probably confused by all of the conflicting "advice" on mole control. You may believe that every rumour, home remedy, or control method is worth trying. A common example is when homeowners try to control lawn grubs and insects to reduce mole activity. However, this is often unsuccessful because the mole's primary food source is earthworms. In fact, many chemicals and home remedies (including castor oil derivatives and grub controls) are not only ineffective when dealing with moles, but they allow the animals time to establish and become real problems. Moles can quickly colonize and spread through adjacent residential properties if not handled properly. Because they need a well-established tunnel network to survive, control will be more difficult the longer they are allowed to tunnel and become habituated.
On large properties, mole activity may move from one part of the lawn to another. This movement is affected by climate and ground moisture. Moles will respond to changes in food supply as different insects become available in different places and at different times throughout the year. If disturbed, moles may temporarily leave an area but will usually return when you least expect it. Even without disturbance mole activity may last only a week or two in a particular area. This "here today, gone tomorrow" behavior is probably the root of most of the misconceptions that make some home remedies and pesticides appear credible.
Over-watering your lawn can bring soil invertebrates and moles closer to the ground surface, making tunnels more visible. Reducing the amount and/or frequency of watering may help temporarily, but is rarely a permanent solution. By the time the soil is arid enough to drive the moles away, you'll also have destroyed your yard.
Numerous home remedies have been used, but results are inconsistent and generally ineffective. Remedies such as smoke bombs, car exhaust, pickle juice, broken glass, red pepper, razor blades, bleach, moth balls, rose branches, human hair balls, vibrators, ultrasonic devices, castor bean derivatives (Castor Oil), and explosives may relieve frustrations, but they have LITTLE TO NO VALUE in controlling moles. They may even harm you or the environment. Furthermore, certain chemicals or explosives are illegal to use.
Trapping is the most effective and practical method of mole control.
When to trap?
The general rule of thumb on the question "when is the best time to trap?" is "the sooner, the better". A mole's tunnel network is similar in scope to an iceberg, where the part that you see is just a small portion of the actual full extent.
Since moles tend to rut only once per year during the winter months, trapping in the winter means that every mole caught will be one mole fewer that can produce 3 to 6 new diggers in the Spring. Spring is the busiest season when all the new adults are establishing their territories, so trapping effectively in the Spring will most likely lead to remaining mole-free for the rest of the year. Trap in the summer and you will enjoy the benefits of having a mole-free yard during the most beautiful and visible garden months. In the Fall, moles are once again more active near the surface and can therefore be more easily caught.