Moles are shy creatures that live underground in networks of tunnels which have been dug out by their spade-like feet. Moles can cause great frustration to gardeners and groundskeepers as, more often than not, their destructive behaviour leaves ‘mole hills’ (the earth thrown up by their digging) in their wake.
Know your Enemy
Moles are 15 to 20cm long with grey to black velvety fur. They have very powerful, shovel-like front limbs which they use very effectively to burrow underground. Moles live most of their lives underground and exist on a diet of earthworms and other soil invertebrates. They can burrow up to 100 metres per night and are known to eat every four hours, regardless of the time of day or night. They spend most of their feeding sessions scouring their network of tunnels, searching for food sources that have dropped or entered into the tunnels.
Moles do not feed on turf grasses; instead they undermine the root system of plants, thereby indirectly affecting growth. Even small populations of moles can do considerable damage to lawns, playing surfaces and sports turfs. Indeed, the damage caused by moles is really just a side-effect of their subterranean lifestyle i.e. they do everything they can to enjoy a rich diet of worms and other soil invertebrates and so, although they do not eat plant material, their necessary tunnelling activities inevitably damage roots as they hunt.
Symptoms of Infestation
Raised ridges and mounds of loose, excavated earth (the aforementioned mole hills) indicate the presence of moles. As well as making turf look unsightly, these unwelcome mounds make lawns almost impossible to mow. Moreover, their burrowing can lead to subsidence, especially on lighter soils and they can cause considerable damage to newly seeded lawns. Their activities can destroy a lawn or playing surface, so time and effort is needed to replace or remove the soil that forms the molehills. The amount of soil moved by one mole has been calculated to be the equivalent of a person moving four tonnes in 10 minutes from a depth of half a metre!
The best to control unwelcome mole populations is to employ high quality mole tunnel traps and scissor traps as they are affordable, effective and very easy to use. Mole smokes are another great option as they provide a more humane method of control by way of coating the lining of mole tunnels. This makes their food source unpalatable and therefore forces them to move on and look elsewhere to feed. A final option is that of the TomCat Talpirid Mole Trap. This heavy-duty device weighs in excess of 1 kilo and is widely considered by those in the know to be the best trap in the business. If you’re really serious about eradicating destructive mole populations then this is far and away the best tool to have in your arsenal!
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