We have a mole. Do we have to care?
April 11, 2021 1:11 PM   Subscribe

We were tilling our garden and a mole crawled out of the dirt. It was definitely a mole because it ran into the grass and then froze there for several minutes so we got a very good look at it. I carefully lifted it with a shovel and laid it back in the dirt, and as it burrowed back in I saw other dirt nearby moving so I think there's more than one. If we don't notice any impact on our garden or lawn can we just ignore them? Does it matter that they seem to be close to our kids' playset? Or are they pests that really need to be addressed? We don't have any pets that will bother them.
posted by Tehhund to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Unless the occasional molehill in the lawn costs you sleep, moles are not pests. They will not attack your children. Live with and enjoy the nature around you.
posted by beagle at 1:28 PM on April 11, 2021 [38 favorites]

One of my elderly parents *hates* the moles in their yard. The base reason that I can figure from talking about it with them is because they are uneasy on their feet, and the tunnels collapse when walked on, causing the chance for a fall. Totally legit fear after having multiple hip replacements. If that is not a concern, though, from the conversation otherwise the moles presence does not seem to be an issue.
posted by chiefthe at 1:40 PM on April 11, 2021

I'm torn. I had a pocket gopher in my yard and wow! They will tear your backyard to shreds in a few days. I try to keep my backyard welcoming to wildlife, mainly bees. I agree that wildlife are not pests.
posted by SPrintF at 1:49 PM on April 11, 2021

Moles really can ruin your lawn, right now mine is a disaster. But, they aren't harmful in other ways*, and they are really almost impossible to get rid of in a sustainable manner.
I've never seen a tunnel collapse, but when my dog can hear or smell them close by, he'll try to dig them out. They are far smarter than him, but it worsens the lawn esthetics, and sometimes I stumble when I am out in twilight/dark.

*maybe last year, they undermined one of my huge sage bushes enough to kill it. But it can also have been a weird weather thing. And that is after 20-ish years of happy sage and mole co-existence.
posted by mumimor at 2:39 PM on April 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

Fun facts I forgot to mention: moles are good for your soil. And if you kill off one family, a new one will move into their "house" of tunnels.
posted by mumimor at 2:47 PM on April 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you sprinkle marigold leaves all around the entrances to their holes, they really don't like it and will move on.
posted by evilmonk at 4:05 PM on April 11, 2021

Do any of your neighbors have vegetable gardens? They might care about your mole.
posted by aniola at 4:15 PM on April 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

They will destroy your lawn and possibly cause you to break an ankle. I have the worst lawn in our neighborhood by far and I vote to remove them.
posted by notjustthefish at 4:18 PM on April 11, 2021

You can remove them as you would remove the tide. With great expense, and ultimate futility. Unless you have coordination across vast areas, like governments do.

I would just try to make their lives more difficult, and not worry about extirpation.

Stomp on their burrows, pour cheap chili powder at their entrances, etc.

FYI a sharp pitch fork could kill a few, if wielded with skill.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:03 PM on April 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Don't make a mountain out of... (sorry, forgot that it's not reddit, don't hit me!)

We have skunks digging trip-holes in our small backyard (they're cute at a distance) and it mostly means that we won't play badminton there. That's a sacrifice that we're willing to make.
posted by ovvl at 6:47 PM on April 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

Pocket gophers and voles I would sure try to drive away from my garden, but moles are carnivores and generally don't hit roots much.
posted by away for regrooving at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2021

Over here the sanctioned non-violent method is to plant little battery or solar-powered ultrasonic emitters or (budget version) beer cans on sticks that rattle in the wind. Of course all that makes them do is go visit your neighbours instead.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:32 PM on April 11, 2021

You can make your yard less inviting to the moles by mixing 4 parts castor oil and one part dish soap with one gallon water then spray on your soil. The moles don't like digging through the castor oil soaked dirt and will move out of your yard (but into whatever is next door.) Search "mole repellant" for more details.
posted by eleslie at 6:46 AM on April 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

We use milky spore to (try to) get rid of grubs, which is the food for moles. Neighbors use chickens.
posted by rabidsegue at 7:32 AM on April 12, 2021

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