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Banner photo and below: Eastern mole by Mississippi State University Extension. Used by permission.

Eastern mole; Photo: Mississippi State Extension

Moles! As snow melts and yards begin to be inspected, you may begin to notice the all-too-familiar and unwelcome mole tunnels that will cause consternation with the first mowing in a few weeks. This subject has become an annual news article for me, because questions about effective control methods keep coming in. We tend to not pay much attention until those pesky critters show up in our yard.

There are two species of moles in Indiana. The Eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) is the most numerous and widespread and is responsible for most of the complaints concerning mole damage to lawns and gardens. The star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata), found in the northern part of the state, is not an important mole pest.

In my 25+ years in Extension, I can’t tell you how many home remedies I’ve heard that are “sure-fire” ways to get rid of moles. Just what is the best method?

From a research-based perspective, Purdue Extension generally recommends one of two methods of mole control as being most effective. Most other methods would be considered either inconsistent or ineffective. No matter what method is chosen, 100% control may be an unreasonable expectation.

Trapping remains the most reliable method of mole control. However, it does take practice, patience, persistence, and perhaps a bit of luck. I often describe it as both an art and a science.

Mole traps are available at several local retailers. Harpoon traps, scissor traps, and choker traps are available. The harpoon trap has the trigger placed on the soil surface over a slightly depressed mole run. When triggered, spikes impale the mole vertically down. Scissor traps are placed in the mole run. A trigger in the middle of the trap enables the capture of the mole via scissor-like jaws whether he advances or retreats. Also called a choker loop trap, the choker trap captures and chokes the offending mole when the trigger is activated. Choose a well-used mole run to set one or more traps. In general, multiple traps will increase your chances of success. Of course, one advantage of trapping is that you know when you’ve been successful!

Until a few years ago, most mole baits had provided inconsistent results. However, a product introduced in recent years has shown effectiveness. It mimics a favorite food of moles: earthworms. When the poison gel-type "worm" is placed inside a mole run, the mole consumes the poison worm and later dies. The product contains the active ingredient bromethalin. Be sure to read and follow all label directions, and heed precautions, especially regarding curious pets. Several brand names now offer this product. The best results are usually obtained during the cold weather months when insect activity is at its lowest.

For the not-so-do-it-yourselfer, you can always hire someone to do the dirty work. You may search for a local Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator at (list your county, the animal, or other information to search). Of course, a fee is involved for their products and services.

A common misconception about mole control suggests that if you control grubs, you’ll take care of the moles. Grubs make up only a portion of the mole’s diet, which also includes earthworms and other soil animals. Moles may not move far from a treated lawn and may periodically re-invade the area in search of food or a mate.

Moles do have some redeeming qualities. They eat many soil insects, some of which are pests, including grubs, termites, and slugs. And, they aerate the soil, allowing deeper air and water penetration into the soil profile. Of course, these aren’t the first things you think of when you have mole runs in your yard.

For more information, access Purdue Extension publication ADM-10-W, Moles, online at Indiana Department of Natural Resources also has information available on moles at

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