The hot topic of recent has been about moles in the landscape. Extension offices get a lot of questions and stories about moles. Identification is the first step to determine if it is a vole, mole, shrew, pocket gopher or other animal in the yard.
Surface ridges or runs are the most visual indicator of a mole being present. They can also leave volcano-shaped hills that may be 2 to 24 inches tall. Moles’ forefeet are very large, broad and have wider palms, which distinguishes it from other mammals.
Trapping is the most successful and practical method of getting rid of moles. My previous experience with a mole that had moved into my space was caught with a trap within 24 hours. It might have been beginners luck from the stories I have heard on mole chasing.
To set a trap properly, select a place along a straight run where there is evidence of fresh activity. Poke a one-inch sized hole in the run and watch for the next 48 hours if the mole plugs it up. Just use a sharpened broomstick or rod. That will show which runs are most active without disrupting their normal activity patterns. Dig out a portion of the run to locate the tunnel and set the trap. Push the run down on each side of the trap.
Moles feed on earthworms, soil insects and spiders. In their search for food, roots and crowns of plants get moved but not eaten. Pushing the soil back around the plants will prevent desiccation that causes the injury to plants.
The mole lives in the seclusion of underground burrows coming to the surface rarely. Moles do not hibernate. They eat from 70% to 100% of their weight each day. Three to five moles per acre is considered a high population.
Only a few natural enemies reduce the mole population. Coyotes, dogs, badgers, and skunks dig out a few of them. Occasionally a cat, hawk, or owl surprises one above ground. Floods are probably the greatest danger facing moles.
There are many other tried methods to prevent or remove moles. None are recommend from K-State Research and Extension. I personally put up with the activity.
If you have question about this or other topics, please contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension by calling 537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.