Outdoors

Finding ways to handle those pesky moles can be a tricky process

A graphic of moles
A graphic of moles Special to the Sun Herald

In the never-ending war betwixt humanity and moles, there is a limited arsenal on our side.

One of the best is a bait called Talprid. Unlike any other mole “bait,” Talprid has very good scientific evidence to back it up. Talprid is a type of gummy worm inoculated with a poison called bromethalin. Moles eat insets and earthworms and Talprid looks, feels and supposedly tastes like a fat, juicy worm. Tests have shown a single bite of the bait is enough to kill a mole. It’s major drawbacks: expensive and looks and feels like a gummy worm to children. If you use it, precautions must be made to keep it from the kids.

Moles have a voracious appetite and can consume up to 70 percent of their body weight every day. They feed while burrowing just under the surface of the soil in an area where food (mole crickets, white grubs and worms) are in abundance.

They do not eat plant material. If your bulbs, roots or other plants start to go belly up on you, it isn’t the moles. It’s something else, like voles or you’re just a lousy gardener. In point of fact, by eating the insects that eat our lawns, moles can actually be considered beneficial. At least, up until the point where you stumble over one of their tunnels.

Besides Talpid, there are some other less expensive methods that will work. Trapping is the best among them. The spring and fall are the best times to use traps. There are three types: choker loops, harpoons and scissor-type. Traps have to be placed over active tunnels. Some burrows are only temporary. So, you have to be careful where you set the trap.

To locate the correct tunnel, look for fresh signs of activity and a burrow that runs in a fairly straight line. If you have doubts about your selection, push down on a section of tunnel with your foot. After a couple off hours, come back and see if the burrow has been pushed back up. Once you’ve located your tunes, set your trap according to its directions. Check the traps daily. Moles like alone. But the tunnels of more than one mole may interconnect.

Another thing to consider is eliminating the mole’s food. As long as sufficient munchies remain in your lawn, moles will continue to arrive for the free meal. An insecticidal treatment to rid your lawn of mole crickets and white grubs will not only make it more difficult for as mole to live there, it will help keep your lawn in good shape.

The best products for this are ones containing the active ingredient imidicloprid. Because it is a systemic, it is limited to the time of year when your grass is actively growing. This time of year, one of the synthetic pyrethroids would work better (bifinthrin, cyfluthrin, cyhalothrin, permethrin, et cetera).

Homeowners have employed numerous remedies to control moles. All of them have prover completely ineffective. These have included broken glass, castor beans, cement, chewing gum, dog hair, flooding tunnels, kerosene and gasoline, kitty litter, lye, moth balls, poisoned peanuts, pinwheels, razor blades and vibrating windmills. There are even a number of electronic devices on the market. None of them works. So, don’t waste your money.

Tim Lockley, a specialist in entomology, is retired from a 30-year career as a research scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For answers to individual questions, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Tim Lockley, c/o Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535.

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