Lawn Moles and Proper Lawn Care
Are your making mountains out of your molehills? Although lawn moles are underground creatures, the benefits they add to your garden are clearly visible and far outweigh the disadvantages.
Of the six species of mole found in North America, the Eastern mole (or gray mole) is the most common. Moles are about the size of chipmunks and weigh from three to six ounces. A tiny creature, its total length is just six to eight inches.
Many gardeners and groundskeepers are under the mistaken impression that lawn moles eat the roots of their plants and turf grasses. However, moles are insectivores. Their primary diet is earthworms and grubs and a single mole can eat more than 140 grubs and cutworms daily. They also feast on destructive garden pests like snails, beetles, and millipedes. In fact, at just over a quarter-pound, a mole can consume 45 to 50 pounds of worms and insects each year.
The greatest harm that mole tunneling does to turf grass is by separating soil from roots. Still, the mole's digging actually improves soil quality by turning and aerating the soil and mixing accumulated nutrients throughout the excavation.
Moles don't continually dig each time they forage for food. Once a tunnel system is established, it is infrequently extended. In fact, the only signs of mole activity you might see are those when the mole must repair its construction. When disturbed, moles may temporarily vacate the area, but generally return within a week or two. In addition, when a tunnel is abandoned, a new mole inhabitant will "recolonize" using the handiwork of its predecessor.
For these reasons, even the most effective method of mole removal, trapping, is not a permanent solution to a "mole problem". Besides which, the three types of mole traps that work with any success sound like relics from the Spanish inquisition- harpoons, scissor-jaws, and choker loops. In fact, numerous remedies have been used to try to control moles Pickle juice, red pepper, razor blades, bleach, moth balls, brambles, human hair braids and hair balls, vibrators, ultra sonic devices, and poisons offer inconsistent and generally ineffective results; many including environmentally unfriendly side effects.
As in all elements of lawn care, the best solution to a lawn mole problem is applying practical gardening principles. Mole tunnels (except for the hilled entrances) are typically deep enough to be almost invisible. Over-watering your yard brings earthworms and other invertebrates close to the surface, making it necessary for the moles to "move up" in search of them. Reducing the amount or frequency of watering may help both moles and their prey stay underground where they are most beneficial to your lawn.
Another solution to a lawn mole problem is to reduce the size of your lawn, converting it to gardens, paths, and hedgerows. First, moles prefer straight tunnel runs. However, more importantly, converting some lawn to gardens, paths, hedgerows and patio areas adds eye-appeal, reduces signs of damage, and in addition attract birds and butterflies to your property.
Hans is author of
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