ASK THE HORT AGENT
Question Why are moles tearing up my yard?
Answer Basically, there are two reasons for increased mole activity. First, they are having trouble finding food. There are a couple times of year when moles dig like crazy. Moles primarily eat grub worms and earthworms. Recent warm weather has caused some worms to rise closer to the soil surface. Since all worms aren't at the same depth, the moles have to look harder to find their daily quota. It is easier for them to dig close to the surface. Therefore, they choose to hunt worms that have moved up in the soil.
The other reason is even more biological. It is mole mating season. Moles are more active when they're ready to mix up the gene pool. Moles only have one litter of pups per year, and Valentine’s Day is the time of year moles are most romantic.
There aren't any great ways to limit their activity at this time. Pesticides that lower the grub worm population work best when applied between mid-August and mid-September. During that time the grubs are very small and very close to the surface of the soil. This time of year, grubs are very large and at varying depths in the soil.
Mole traps work best when moles are making a lot of tunnels. Therefore, now is a good time to try your hand at trapping. Sorry, but there are no Hav-a-heart mole traps (no live traps). All mole traps result in mole mortality. The trick to mole trapping is two fold. First, you have to find a tunnel where they are actively feeding. They don't use the same feeding tunnels over and over. Second, you have to make a slight indentation in the tunnel when you set the trap. The unsuspecting mole will have to push the indented area out when he passes back through that area of the tunnel. Pushing the tunnel out will spring the trap and result in a mole shishkebab and an unhappy Valentine. It sounds bad, but it takes a tremendous amount of dedication to become a good mole trapper. Here’s a hint, set your traps about mid-morning (around 10:30 am).
For more information than you ever want to know about moles, check out http://www.themoleman.com/ not to be confused with Hans Moleman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Moleman from the Simpsons. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call the Extension Office at 893-7533 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If moles are tearing up your yard, then a mole shishkebab would be a great Valentine’s Day present. If you and your sweetie visited several restaurants looking for a meal on February 14th, then you know how the poor old mole feels.
Gary L. Pierce
Horticulture Extension Agent