Whack these moles
July 13, 2018 7:04 PM   Subscribe

We are in a losing battle with what appears to be a colony of moles in our enormous yard, and I'm out of ideas, please help!

It's been a few years since this question has been asked so I figured we were due for updates. The specifics of the yard: quite large, perhaps half a football field between front and back. Unfortunately it backs onto a small field of trees which I understand moles like. We have had a mole problem on and off ever since we moved in, and likely it was going on before because the last tenants did no lawn maintenance beyond mowing.

My partner and I have tried a number of methods that did not require us to look at mole corpses: sonic spikes (did not work), grub killer (don't think the grubs died), and castor oil pellets (these worked the best but don't last, and each time it seems to work for less time).

I called a lawn care company that deals with pests and they pretty much blew me off, saying that I was going to have moles as long as I have those trees that I don't own and can't remove. I'm not opposed to calling another professional if it would actually do good, but found that disheartening.

I don't want to look at corpses but I'm okay with killing them. That being said, we do have a lot of neighborhood cats and I would hate for them to get hurt.

I don't want a dog and I'm only going to be here another 2-4 years at most, but I'm sick of these moles! Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by possibilityleft to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you need a big smooth green lawn or can you create something else? Could you create some fancy rock garden spaces and raised beds of flowers or other plants? Could you turn some portion of your lawn over to native plants to encourage butterflies and other pollinators, with a "wild but controlled" look that would hide the mole tracks?

Slightly raised beds, mulch, and stepping-stone paths would be my suggestion for living with underground critters. Take that as you will, because I admit I personally kinda actively reject the ideal of the large expanse of flat perfect sodded lawn.
posted by erst at 7:18 PM on July 13, 2018 [8 favorites]

You will need to kill the moles if you don't want them. There is no other option.

Sorry, but it's true.

Bait a bunch of rat traps with peanut butter or bacon fat.

You will catch them all in short time.
posted by sanka at 7:28 PM on July 13, 2018

Moth balls. Use a shopvac in reverse to blow them down the tunnels.
posted by humboldt32 at 7:44 PM on July 13, 2018

Have you talked to your local cooperative extension? They may have tried and true advice for your area. For instance, here's a fairly comprehensive guide to controlling nuisance moles from the University of Missouri. They say it's tough, especially if there's a colony rather than a solitary mole, but there are traps that work, and even methods of catching them live (though heck if I know where you'd put them once you caught them). Of note is the fact that you're now at the tail end of the season for treating grubs (which may reduce but not eliminate the moles' food source) -- it's apparently a very season-dependent thing and may not work if you do it too late or too early. No matter what method(s) you choose, it sounds like this will be likely be an ongoing project, not an overnight fix.
posted by ourobouros at 8:29 PM on July 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Borrow a Jack Russell Terrier.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:30 PM on July 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

We are in a losing battle with what appears to be a colony of moles in our enormous yard, and I'm out of ideas, please help!

If you can't identify specific harms that the moles are causing you beyond interrupting the illusory smoothness of your lawn, I recommend giving serious consideration to deliberate graceful withdrawal from battle and honoring the moles for their tenacity.
posted by flabdablet at 2:01 AM on July 14, 2018 [14 favorites]

Also, if you rake each new molehill into the grass while the earth is still loose, you won't need to fertilize your lawn.
posted by flabdablet at 2:36 AM on July 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

In what way are they causing a problem? There may be other ways to mitigate the issue if you can state how their presence manifests.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:11 AM on July 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I also am not sure what problem the moles are causing, and would encourage OP to consider their motivations for mass killing a colony. They are neutral wildlife at worst, performing many beneficial services but leaving some visual evidence of their presence.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:19 AM on July 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: To clarify a couple of points: I don't need a perfect lawn by any means, but the mole hills make it very difficult to mow and make the ground spongy and soft in a way that seems dangerous. They could live in the tree area or the far back of the yard I can't mow, but I don't want them to stay. I don't know if it's actually a colony or just a couple of very enthusiastic creatures. And finally I don't own the property so I can't do extensive landscaping but I am responsible per my lease for lawn and pest control.

Thanks for all of the advice so far.
posted by possibilityleft at 8:48 AM on July 14, 2018

the mole hills make it very difficult to mow and make the ground spongy and soft in a way that seems dangerous.

Okay, so treatment there is grab a rake, and walk around a new molehill until your foot collapses one of the near-surface feeding tunnels that's contributing to the spongy feel (assuming you can't see it immediately as a little ridgeline), then step along that tunnel collapsing it as you go, raking in dirt from the molehill to level it again.

I'm tipping it will take you less time to do this on the regular than what you'd need to spend on any plan with even a vague chance at successful extermination or discouragement. And turning over the topsoil in this way really will encourage vigorous and healthy grass growth.
posted by flabdablet at 10:07 AM on July 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I got a bottle each of garlic and cayenne, mixed them and sprinkled it over the yard. It discourages them for about a month. I feel your pain because the tunnels are raising up the ground 2"-3" and sink if you walk on them and it's easy to roll your ankle when mowing. It's also killing off the grass where it's really raised up. I'll be watching this post and hoping someone has a better answer for you.
posted by stray thoughts at 5:31 PM on July 14, 2018

Could animal control services help? I'm not a homeowner so I've never had this issue, but my mom has had people trap raccoons, skunks and (I think) moles and then take them elsewhere to live. You mentioned calling a lawn care service but I'm not sure that's the same thing. In any event, maybe get a second opinion?
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:25 PM on July 14, 2018

« Older Firefox Search Engine Default Problem   |   What is the tool I'm looking for? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.