Many people have never seen a mole, just the evidence of it, with piles of earth ruining a perfect lawn, playing field or golf course which we refer to as mole hills. Moles, if you do manage to catch sight of them, are rather cute little creatures. Contrary to common belief they are not rodents but wild mammals that pose no health threat to humans. However, for farmers and landscape gardeners they cause devastation in a number of ways and therefore need to be controlled.
Gardens and playing fields
Spending their lives underground, searching for earthworms and insects, just one mole can dig out more than 5 metres of tunnel in just 1 hour. Considering that they create their tunnel networks for around 4 to 5 hours per day, and several can be working together during the day and night; it’s possible for them to excavate some 70 metres in 24 hours. For landscape gardeners this is not just a nightmare of unsightliness on lawns but the tunnels can cause paths, driveways and flower beds to sink. Over time a perfectly level lawn will begin to undulate. Naturally the time taken to cause extensive damage depends on factors such as the time of year and the quality of soil.
Damage to Farms
For farmers the problems are much the same but have more consequences. Mole hills in pastures reduce the amount of grazing available for livestock because the discarded earth covers grass. In addition cattle can be exposed to Listeria, bacteria which is soil borne.
An extensive tunnel system can make the ground uneven which means that animals may be injured, especially horses. In addition crops can be adversely affected when roots of young plants are damaged by the moles’ industriousness.
Methods of mole control include:
- Plant deterrents
- Wire mesh fencing
As applies to most problems, prevention is better than cure, and there are two highly effective ways of preventing moles from wanting to tunnel through land, without the need for traps or poison. The first is installing wire mesh fencing around the area that needs to be protected. The openings of the mesh should not exceed 1.27 centimetres and since moles are master excavators, the fencing should be set at a minimum of 47 centimetres below ground level. The type of wire mesh must be vinyl coated or galvanised steel to avoid rusting.
At the same time as fencing is installed, certain types of bulbs can be planted notably yellow crown imperials which apparently have an odour similar to the scent of foxes. Moles don’t like them at all. There are other bulbs such as daffodils, flowering onions and garlic which have proven to be deterrents. Consulting a good horticulturalist or researching online should yield a number of results for both ornamental and practical plants that will keep moles away.
Traps and poison may be necessary to resolve an existing problem but the use of poison can affect other animals that may feed on moles so it’s always best to avoid it if possible.