OF MOLES AND MEN

I grew up in Montana, so I never knew about moles until I moved to Michigan.  Once during college, I visited Rhonda's house and her dad had one hanging from a tree with a rope, and I found the animal strange, but more strange was that he had hung this thing from a tree.  "What would make a man do such a thing?," I asked myself.  Years later, I found out.

See, it took a couple of years for me to get my own lawn and to grow it into the masterpiece that I now believe it is.  Then they moved in.  At first it was slow, and they would come in from a narrow patch of grass from the farmers yard.  They only attacked the back of the property, so the threat wasn't that great.  It frightened me, but I didn't know what to do about it.  I tried many approaches, but none worked.  Slowly they just kept taking over my paradise, and it seemed that there was nothing I could do.

 

Hoop traps

  People at work had had good luck with these, so I bought two.  They are spring loaded, and have two hoops that you press into the ground, then a tab that is triggered when the mole goes though.  I had these go off many times, but the mole always got away, leaving me more frustrated.

Smoke bombs

I didn't buy the official mole smoke bombs, but mostly used this to determine where the tunnels went.  However, so that you don't think that I really expected this to work, I will just say that it was a better use of smoke bombs than lighting them and rolling them down the driveway.

Propane

This one sounded pretty decent.  Run a hose down one of the tunnels and seal it with dirt and turn on the propane.  The gas will drop because it is heavier than air and it will reach the areas where they are hiding.  This seemed to slow down the traffic for a while, but they came back.  I went to a mole seminar at the local nursery.  The lady was talking about how smoking them doesn't work because the smoke (or car exhaust, a common technique) is lighter than air.  I raised my hand and asked, "isn't propane heavier than air and sinks down to where the moles are?"  She replied, "Talk to me after class!"

Juicy Fruit

Apparently moles are attracted to this brand of gum, (they must have seen the catchy ads) and it was supposed to clog them up and kill them because they can't digest it.  I bought some gloves (to keep the scent off the gum and out of the tunnels), rolled up some sticks into worm sized pieces and stuck them into the tunnels.  I marked eight locations where I placed them, and the next day I only found one.  Now I marked it very well and I didn't find them later, so I am sure they took the bait, but I later read that moles don't have the teeth to chew the gum down.  I can't dispute this, but let me tell you, they were GONE.  But the moles were not, or at least not for long, and they soon came back.

Castor oil

This is the first one that really started to work well.  You buy it in a jug that attaches to the garden hose, and you spray it around your border.  It takes about a half hour or more to spray it all out, but it really works.  You follow it up with watering, and it coats the bugs with a laxative.  I sprayed a line across my back yard because I didn't want the moles to come into the best part of my yard.  The next day, they crossed the line, which was about 50 feet from the house, and they moved into the landscaping.  We're talking the next day!  At this point I knew this stuff worked, so I sprayed the landscaping with it.  The next day I came home to find the neighbor walking around his landscape looking at all the mole tunnels.  Oops!  He lived with them for awhile, but he must have found something similar, or they liked my stuff better, because within weeks, they were back.  They lived in my landscaping under the woodchips for months.

Spear traps

I borrowed these from Rhonda's dad.  They were pretty old, which meant that they were built well, and the spears were really sharp.  Now I had a bunch of runs all around the house, and a bunch at the back of the yard.  I tackled the front yard first, as this was the most important to me.  I put two in the front yard one night.  The next morning one of the traps had gone off, but I stuck my finger down around the spears and I didn't feel anything.  I went to work, and we were out that night until about 9:00.  When I got home I decided to move the traps to see if I could do better.  When I picked up the trap that had gone off that morning, I found a mole!  I was very excited.  I reset both traps in the front yard.  The next morning I found nothing.  No moles, and no movement.  This was good.

The next night I moved one of the traps to the back yard on the first run into our property.  The next morning before we left to work I checked it and much to my delight, I found another dead mole!  I reset the trap, but I didn't see another mole all year long.  The vintage spear trap was by far the most effective method I found.

What was interesting was that the front yard mole, even though he had definite tunnels, was a star nosed moles.  He had the occasional dirt piles associated with star nosed moles, but he was also a tunneler.  (The pictures are from a phony digital camera from work.  If you are wondering why I took pictures, then you have not yet had moles.)

The back yard mole had no dirt piles, he was your plain Jane Eastern mole.

Notice the difference in size between the two.  The star nosed is the small one.

In the year 2003, I treated the yard with professional grub treatment twice and hadn't seen any in my yard yet, but the neighbor had runs all over right next to my property.  Eventually they were going to come in, and finally they did.  Well, this year I had bought my own spear trap.  It was the same brand, but they have cheapened it, and the spears aren't as sharp.  I placed the trap one night and it tripped but I had nothing.  The next night I was mowing, and I found a gift sent from Heaven.

I have a patch in the back yard where I cut sod to fix the ruts from the concrete truck.  A mole had been tunneling in that area, then he surfaced, and I found him dead!  Why, I don't know, but I didn't question it too much.  I scored another point, with no effort.  This brought the score to Kyle: 3, Moles 0.  You might ask, "What would the moles have to do to score a point?"  I guess they'd have to kill me.  It's not a very fair game, but you get to stack the odds when it's your house.

He had some chew marks, but we don't have any dogs around, so I don't know what could have chewed on it.  I'd like to think that he had a heart attack when he found out whose yard he ended up in!  I didn't have a tree to hang him on, so I just drove over him!  HA!  Take that.

This is called a bad morning.

This is a good morning, usually.  This one proved to be a direct hit.  Rhonda's dad's traps almost never miss.

This is number 2 for 2003.  My score is now 4.

This was my trophy deer. 

This is my trophy mole.

Here's the first mole of 2004.  I was out of original photo ideas for the second.  Score is up to 6.  The yard looks good, looks like I have to kill two a year, and then I'm fine, knock on wood.

 

No big activity for the rest of the 2004 season.  We'll see what the lawn looks like when the snow melts in 2005....

 

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