If you have a garden with plants and vegetables, chances are that a mole is not on your list of 5 top favourite animals. Even if they don’t actually eat green life, the collateral damage from their digging is just enough to harm the plants and soil in your garden. So, if you have been a victim of a mole infestation, continue reading as we share with you the best ways of safely removing moles from your garden.
Before you start taking measures, you need to make sure that there are indeed moles in your garden.
They live underground, hence, there aren’t many ground-level signs of their existence. Their main task is to dig tunnels so that they can find food, so whenever they do it, the excess soil is removed and gets relocated to the surface. Those soil piles are called molehills and are the main signs you should be looking for. You will notice underground ridges connecting the different turf piles.
As we mentioned, moles are carnivores, so they do not directly damage the plants, but their tunnel digging activity does. When they push their way into the ground, they disturb the plant roots in your flower beds and vegetable plots.
Those are the two main signs of a mole infestation and they are most visible during spring, early summer and autumn. Due to the higher temperatures in the summer, moles tend to dig their tunnels deeper in the ground, and their presence isn’t as evident.
How to get rid of moles
Before you unleash your inner hunter, you need to understand certain rules about taking care of a mole infestation on your own.
So, let’s start with:
Can you do pest control yourself?
Keep in mind that harsh and unnecessary actions against wildlife, even when the animal is considered as pest, may lead to fines and imprisonment. According to www.gov.uk, you are not allowed to use the following things:
bows and crossbows
explosives (other than legal ammunition for a licensed firearm)
live birds or animals, known as ‘live decoys’, to attract pests (unless you have a licence)
The BPCA also agrees that the most effective methods that would free you from the mole infestation can only be performed by professionals. Which means that if you do have a pest problem, the best options are to either contact your local council and ask if they can provide you with a pest control service, or hire a company/certified pest control technician.
On the Internet, you will find plenty of old wives’ tales talking about how you don’t really need professional help, and that there are many easy and humane ways to get rid of moles. Truth is, you do need a professional and there isn’t a humane way to get the job done. In order to understand why is not a good idea to engage in a mole hunt on your own, here are the methods that actually work and how they are performed.
Traps for moles
The obvious way to go is setting up a trap, of course. Still, there are many factors that need to be taken into account that will ensure the success of the task. These include:
Safety. Yes, the trap can be efficient in catching moles but is it safe for your family and pets? Most of those mole traps are hidden slightly in the ground, with sharp spears or a mechanism that traps the unlucky soul tightly, with no chance of escape. Always make sure that you have taken the necessary precautions, in order to keep you and your family safe.
Efficiency. This one is obvious, as well. You need to make sure that the traps are set up correctly and in the right place to work. Keeping in mind how dangerous they can be for other creatures, then, one needs to be convinced of their effectiveness and ensure their efficient application.
The price. Sometimes, you will need more than one piece, so this is where the price comes in as an important factor.
Longevity. Can you use the traps for more than one season, or you will have to throw them away after only one use?
Types of traps
Now, let’s continue by looking into the various kinds of traps that you can choose from and their different effects.
Killing traps. As we’ve mentioned above, the only secure method is killing the moles. Especially if you have a farm or a big garden, and collateral damage is something you simply cannot afford. John Finnemore is a mole catching expert who has listed all the myths surrounding the whole process, the exact type of scissor trap you will need, and how to do everything exactly. If you want to read more, click here.
Barrel or Tunnel traps. According to the RSPCA, this type of trap is the better option for home gardeners, as the scissors kind does not always kill the mole right away. For someone who is trying peacefully to have a small back garden with vegetables, a half-dead mole, caught in a trap, is probably not something you want to deal with. When you hire a professional to take care of the problem, be careful of individuals, who come with an already deceased mole, pretending it was caught in the trap.
Live catch traps. In case your conscience is not letting you sleep at night, there are a couple of techniques that will only catch the mole, so it can be released in the wild again. One of those is a pit trap. You need to locate an existing tunnel and put a big jar at the bottom of it. Pour some soil over it, so it’s not too obvious, and check it regularly in case it works.
Keep in mind, that if you forget about the trap and you leave it for too long, there is a chance that the mole will die from starvation, loneliness, and stress. This is, of course, much worse for the creature than killing it right away. However, if you indeed catch it alive, in order for the whole process to make any sense, you need to release the animal at least 2 miles away from your property, with permission from the owner of the property where you’re releasing it.
Getting rid of moles by gassing them
It should go without saying, but still, if you are not a certified pest control technician do NOT use gassing agents. They are extremely dangerous if not applied correctly, especially the ones that become poisonous when in contact with water. The results can be fatal for you and everyone around you.
If you are trained and you have confidence in the gassing method, you still have to be careful. Always wear protective gear, such as gloves and a face mask. Follow the instructions and repeat until you are satisfied with the results.
Keep your children and pets away from the garden whenever you are using chemicals.
Methods that don’t (always) work
If you find the techniques above a bit too drastic, you can check out the methods below. Even though they may sound like they are coming from a children’s book, many people still prefer to try something themselves, before going to a professional. Results are not guaranteed.
Plant shields. There are some plants that people believe can be used as a barrier against moles, deterring them from spreading their tunnels in your garden. The most popular ones are daffodils, fritillaries, marigolds, and alliums. Another known mole deterrent are the castor bean plants, but there are also said to be poisonous.
DIY mole deterrents. Similar to scarecrows that are made for, well, scaring crows, there some items that you can place in your garden, which might drive the moles away:
Cat or fox poo. The more it smells like ammonia, the better.
“Singing” birthday cards. Or anything else that will produce annoying sounds for a long period of time.
An open can of smelly sardines. If you are using this, keep in mind that even if it does keep the moles away, it will most certainly attract some kitties.
Toy windmills. The idea, here, is that the windmill may drive away the mole by sending vibrations through the ground.
Ultrasonic mole spikes. Most of them are powered by the sun and they are placed in the ground with the base, pushed into the soil, so the spikes can stay in place. They are said to release a high-frequency sound that should chase the moles away. So far so good, but in reality, most of these sub-sonic devices are proved to be completely useless. The waves cannot really travel that far from the source and the moles either completely ignore the sound or they just get used to it.
Removing their food source. This method sounds a bit more logical than others. Get rid of their favourite food, which is grubs, and they will be forced to search for it elsewhere. However, the results will most likely disappoint you. Removing grubs from your garden is more likely to become a reason for the moles to dig even more tunnels, further destroying your garden life. Either that or they will change their diet, by going after earthworms and other insects that are useful to the soil.
As we mentioned earlier, neither of the described “methods” are proven to be successful, so if you want an actual long-term solution, always call a professional pest controller.
Should you get rid of moles?
Now stands the question. Are moles really this harmful so that the only choice is to get rid of them? Well, in recent years, there have been plenty of mixed opinions about this. Starting off with the fact that removing moles is not a cheap solution. As we’ve said, the only guaranteed option is to hire a professional, and depending on the level of infestation, chances are your wallet will cry at the end of the whole journey. When most gardeners calculate the risks carefully, they arrive at the conclusion that moles are not the end for their garden, and the better option will be just to, well, let them be. It has been proven that through their digging, moles contribute a lot to the health of the soil by mixing its nutrients, turning it, and enhancing drainage.
So in the end, it’s up to you to decide, whether moles are a nuisance or a friendly fellow gardener.
Before you take any actions, think carefully about whether you really need to get rid of the moles in your garden. If the damage is not fatal, and your life does not depend on the plants you are growing in your backyard, consider leaving the animals be.
You may try the non-harmful and “humane” techniques, but always keep in mind that neither of them are proven to be effective.
The only secure ways of removing moles from your garden are calling your local council or a pest control technician to safely and professionally take care of the problem.
And note that according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals, the majority of people who attempt to kill an animal themselves, may breach the law, due to causing “unnecessary suffering”.
What are your experiences with those small, pink-nosed creatures? Do you see them as a problem or just as cute wild animals? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below and we hope you found this article on how to get rid of moles useful!