Common Name: Eastern mole
Scientific Name: Scalopus aquaticus
- Adult body length (without tail): 5 to 7 inches
- Adult body weight: 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 ounces
- Gestation period: 28 to 42 days
- Litters per year: 1
- Litter size: 2 to 5 (usually 3 to 4)
- Breeding season: February through March
- Birthing season: March through April
- Age at which young are weaned: 4 weeks
- Activity period: Anytime
- Range: 1/5 to 1/2 acre
- Primary foods: Earthworms, insect larvae, small animals in runs
Mole Pest Status
Moles are notorious for the damage they cause to sod nurseries, golf courses, parks, cemeteries, residential lawns, ornamental planting beds and gardens as a result of their digging and tunneling in search of turfgrass insects and earthworms upon which to feed. The eastern mole is the most common and damaging mole encountered in these habitats.
Barrier fences constructed of 1/2 inch mesh hardware cloth or sheet metal, buried to a depth of 12 to 18 inches and installed around gardens and small planting beds will protect the enclosed areas from surface tunneling but may not prevent moles from entering by way of a deep run.
Pit-fall traps can be constructed of large coffee cans or other similar containers and buried in planting beds along frequently-used surface runs. Traps must be deep and steep-sided enough to prevent escapeonce moles fall into them.
Two types of kill-traps are commonly available for professional use in controlling moles. Spear (a.k.a. harpoon or bayonet) traps and scissors (a.k.a. jaw) traps both work well for eliminating resident moles from a property, if properly set and maintained. Both traps are used by Varment Guard technicians and are designed to be anchored in the main (frequented) surface runways of moles. Incorrectly-positioned traps will be missed or deliberately avoided by moles as they continue to move through their surface runs. Traps ( 3 to 12 per property in most cases) are marked with fluorescent ribbon for ease in locating them and helping people on the premises avoid them. Sometimes traps are covered with inverted plastic buckets to mark their location and protect people and pets from tampering with traps and possible injury as a result. If no moles are being caught in traps after several days of waiting, the traps may need to be removed and repositioned in a surface runway that is clearly active. A simple way to find out which surface runs are in use is to flatten all the runs using a lawn roller. Those which reappear within the next few days are good runs in which to set traps. Traps are checked every 2 to 3 days.
Harassment / Intimidation
A variety of mechanical thumping devices and sonic pulse devices are marketed as being repellent to moles when installed in lawns; however, little scientific or practical evidence exists in support of their efficacy. Oily liquid repellents (e.g., castor oil) are commercially available for treating runways to repel moles. The result of such applications is one of temporary avoidance of treated runs by moles. They move into other areas of the lawn or landscape.
Until recently, no toxic baits registered for use against moles (e.g., poison peanuts) proved to be effective. A metabolic toxicant, Talpirid TM, has demonstrated efficacy based on field trials by a number of pest and wildlife control professionals. This worm-mimic product is placed in the main surface runs of moles. Its placement should be marked and monitored in lawns and landscaping, to ensure efficacy of the baiting program. One popular home remedy purported to kill moles is to insert rolled-up bits of chewing gum into surface runs.Supposedly the moles consume the gum and soon die of constipation. This method has never been proved effective but has likely gained a measure of credibility due to the fact that moles will temporarily abandon anarea if the food supply (earthworms and insect larvae) is inadequate or soil climatic and moisture conditions arenot favorable.
Smoke Cartridges and Fumigants
Smoke cartridges are registered for use in controlling moles; however, this method is not always reliable because the odor-sensitive moles can quickly wall-off treated tunnels with soil and escape to other runs where the air is breathable. Furthermore, asphyxicants ventilate from dry soils quickly and may not penetrate or persist at a lethal concentration in the runways long enough to kill moles. Moist soil conditions are best suited to mole asphyxiation efforts because gasses will be retained in the runs for a longer period of time than if performed under dry conditions.