The Truth About Moles

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identifying eastern moles

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.

Do You Have A Mole?

mole tunnels

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.

  • HOW MANY MOLES? Thankfully, regardless of how many tunnels or mounds you may find, one solitary mole is likely the culprit. Moles are solitary creatures, and it is unlikely that multiple moles would invade the same lawn at the same time.

When To Spot A Mole

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.

  • THEY ARE GONE IN A FLASH! Moles are not a lifelong, or even a season-long, problem. Moles will leave your yard when they can no longer find insects on which to feed. This usually only takes a week or two, and then the mole will be off to look for a new yard. However, smaller rodents like voles or mice often move in within 24 hours of moles abandoning their tunnels.

They Are Not As Big As You Think

tiny mole

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.

More Mole Fun Facts:

  • Contrary to popular belief, moles do have tiny eyes.
  • Some fully grown moles can fit in your palm.
  • Eastern moles average 5 ounces in weight.
  • Moles eat insects and bugs.
  • They do not eat plants.
  • Moles are smaller than (and often misidentified as) voles.
  • There are 42 species of moles worldwide.
  • Moles can improve soil quality.

Moles Cause Only Light Damage

identifying molehills

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.

  • "M" IS FOR MOLE / "V" IS FOR VOLE! People mistakenly think moles eat away at the roots and bulbs of plants, but it is simply not true. As mentioned, rodents like voles often move into abandoned mole tunnels and use them as pathways to feed on roots. Remember -- moles are "meat" eaters (insects) and voles are vegetarians.

Moles Are More Beneficial Than Harmful

Lawn Health

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!

  • Moles Aerate Lawns - This is one secret that we are sure the moles would want you to know about them! As moles burrow, their tunnels help to aerate the soil. While moles can damage roots, their digging also loosens up hard-packed earth and helps get oxygen and other nutrients to the root systems in your yard. This makes for a healthier lawn that is easier to maintain in the long run.
  • Moles Eat Bugs - By digging through your soil, moles are actually helping you combat garden pests like snails, insects, and grubs. Moles are capable of eating 60-100% of their body weight every single day. So, having a mole in your yard will always lead to a smaller presence of pests.
  • Moles Fertilize Soil - It may seem like a gross thought, but mole feces actually works as a great and free fertilizer! The nitrogen in their waste helps to enrich the lawn and keep it looking strong and healthy. You will never see or smell it, but you may just get an even greener lawn in the end!

Trust The Pros To Know The Moles!

Top Rated Lawn Care Service Company

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.

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