Homeowners dread the day when they see those tiny mountains of dirt appearing across their lawn that can only mean one thing... there is a mole! But, before you go reaching for the traps or chemicals, we wanted to set the record straight about what having a mole in your yard really means.
Thankfully, identifying a mole and the signs of a mole invasion is actually not very difficult. Moles belong to the Talpidae family of subterranean mammals, and the most common species in North America are eastern moles (Scalopus aquaticus). These small moles (similar to most moles) have short grey fur, imperceivably small eyes and ears, long snouts, and paddle-like claws that are perfect for digging.
The telltale signs of a mole invasion include raised or buckled turf, small mounds of dirt on your lawn, and shallow tunnels near the surface of the soil. The mounds of dirt moles leave outside their points of entry into your lawn are usually the only indicators people need to determine if they have a mole. These mounds will be found just outside of a tunnel that has been dug into your lawn.
The burrowing habits of moles vary by season, but it is unlikely that you will catch or even see an actual mole above the soil surface. You are most likely to spot a mole burrowing close to either mid-day or midnight, and moles are especially active right after a warm rainfall when insects are pushed closer to the soil surface. Moles do not hibernate, so could start seeing molehills during any season throughout the year.
Moles are often portrayed as huge, monstrous creatures that will take over your yard. You may have an idea in your head of some giant rodent tearing up your lawn, but the truth about moles is quite different!
The truth is that they're surprisingly small! Moles often grow to be no bigger than a mouse, with most eastern moles usually measuring only 6 inches or less. In fact, moles are not rodents, nor are they even closely related to rodents! The Talpidae family includes ground-dwelling, digging mammals like moles and shrews. Members of the Talpidae family are typically insectivores, and they do not have the ever-growing teeth for which rodents are infamous and feared.
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So, moles may not look all that intimidating, but they still ruin your lawn and gardens, right? Well... sort of. While moles can cause a bit of damage to your lawn, their benefits usually outweigh the damage they cause in your yard.
Moles do like to tunnel through your soil in search of insects and other smaller bugs, which means they can sometimes cause some slight damage to plants. As they burrow deeper and expand their tunnels, they often interfere with the root systems of your lawn and/or gardens. Damaged roots will always lead to less nutrients begin absorbed, which will weaken anything green that grows in your yard. Also, if a tunnel is too close to the soil surface, it will cause trails of thin and discolored grass across your lawn. However, the damage moles do to roots is usually not enough to kill an entire garden or lawn.
Now that we have established that moles are not eating your grass or garden plants, let's talk about the good things moles do for our yards! While it is true that moles will slightly disrupt your lawn's growing process and leave behind unsightly mounds of dirt, it could be argued that moles are worth these risks because their benefits are much more impactful.
As previously stated, moles are usually gone after only a couple weeks or less. Though other critters can move into their tunnels and eat away at roots, moles have no interest in eating your lawn. Actually, if you can tolerate the molehills for a brief period, the end result just may be a much healthier lawn!
Knowing the above information can help you appreciate moles and maybe even decide to leave the next little guy alone. If you still decide to get rid of a mole in your yard, be sure to call a professional pest control company like Holmes Lawn & Pest. They will have the necessary equipment to humanely trap and remove moles without you having to worry about a thing. Call your local lawn care or pest control company today, and be sure to check out this article on common lawn bugs and grubs in Salt Lake City.