HUMANE deterrence of moles/voles
It’s about that time of year when our lawns start resembling an escape from Alcatraz; little holes and raised tunnels leading in different directions across the yard. These are commonly caused by animals such as moles and voles. Understanding a little more about some of these animals will identify the culprit and help you find a humane solution to the challenges they might create.
Moles are insectivores, surprisingly more closely related to bats than to rodents! They navigate through the tunnels they create in search of earthworms and grubs, snails, centipedes, spiders, insect larvae, etc. Requiring a lot of energy to dig their way to food sources they eat more than their 1 lb body weight in food each day. Earthworms also provide a primary source of hydration for the moles.
A moles’ feet are basically stuck to the sides of its body and therefore almost impossible for it to “catch” prey in the traditional sense. Its nose is cylindrical making it easier to grab food as it “swims” through the soil. Moles have very sharp teeth but, because they seldom come above ground during their three year life span, they are not a threat to humans or pets. Despite the common myth that moles are blind they can see but mainly just light and movement. Their eyes are poorly developed since they spend most of their time underground in the dark but their snout makes up for it in sensitivity.
Moles are very solitary animals and typically travel more than ⅕ acre so generally there are no more than 3 - 5 moles per an entire acre. For an average suburb yard that means only one mole per yard!
Evidence of moles present in the yard can be signified by raised tunnels visible on the ground as well as raised dirt mounds that resemble mini volcanos in the dirt.
Voles are mouse like herbivorous rodents. If you’re seeing small holes in the yard and plants are being eaten you’re likely dealing with voles (though they create tunnels similar to moles). Voles are often referred to as field mice as they look like a mouse with a short tail and tend to enjoy feeding on grass, seeds, roots, stems and plant leaves.
Unfortunately many people opt for a beautiful looking yard over the rationale that these little creatures deserve to live as much as the lawn!! There are actually many
HUMANE methods of deterring the little “munchkins”. Below are a few of those:
Many animals including moles despise marigolds, daffodils and/or alliums. Planting these in the yard encourages them to move on. These plants often also repel deer and rabbits, thus planting them around your garden may help to save your vegetables also.
Eliminating a food source such as grubs is a good start. Applying beneficial nematodes to your yard is a wonderful organic pest control method that only affects the grubs.
Since moles are able to dig at a better rate in moist soil and insects they feed upon thrive better in the moisture as well, try drying out the soil a bit. This just means not watering your lawn as much and if it’s a shady area, consider trimming back some of the foliage to allow the sun to help dry out the area.
Moles are harder to catch in live traps as they seldom come above ground but live traps are helpful for vole control.
Castor oil repellent spray or granules spread over the entire lawn including down the holes will encourage them to move on.
Ammonia soaked rags put inside the burrows and holes can also be very effective as well as and kind of hot pepper flakes or sprays which will make them seek out other areas.
Most garden shops and home improvement stores carry solar powered sonic spikes that emit an ultrasonic vibration that scares the moles away. I have most recently been in contact with a business who sells some wonderful humane solutions that I will be personally testing out. Check them out at www.predatorguard.com
Whichever method you choose to control a wildlife challenge be sure it is truly humane. It is illegal to poison wildlife. There’s no excuse for any animal to ever suffer needlessly or inhumanly.
Thank you for caring.