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Eastern mole

By: Garden Gate staff
Moles may look like rodents but they’re actually related to bats and shrews. Eastern moles have a smooth gray coat, tiny eyes, a hairless pointed snout and big flipperlike front legs.

from the wild side

Courtesy of Rob Sandelin

Eastern mole
Scalopus aquaticus

IDENTIFICATION —?Moles may look like rodents but they’re actually related to bats and shrews. Eastern moles have a smooth gray coat, tiny eyes, a hairless pointed snout and big flipperlike front legs. These 6- to 8-in.-long underground dynamos can excavate up to 18 ft. of tunnel near the surface in an hour. All that effort creates a big appetite. Moles can consume 45 to 50 lbs. of earthworms, grubs and other insects yearly.

There are two types of mole tunnels: foraging and runway. Foraging, or surface, tunnels meander, are generally shallow and fill in as the soil settles. These tunnels damage lawns by uprooting grass, creating unsightly ridges and soft spots. The deeper runway tunnels are where they spend more of their time in summer as the soil gets harder and in winter when the soil freezes. You’ll probably never see evidence of these tunnels in your lawn.

CONTROL —?Not everything about moles is bad — they do eat pest insects and aerate the soil. Bulbs and plant roots aren’t on their diet, but their tunnels are a problem. You can forget the vast majority of the “remedies” you hear for getting rid of moles. Here’s why a couple of common solutions — eliminating lawn grubs and flooding tunnels — won’t work. If you get rid of grubs, the moles eat other insects. And there’s not enough water pressure from your hose to flood the tunnels — moles move quickly when they have to. To really get rid of these critters, keep watering to a minimum so the soil is harder, which discourages both insects and moles. The surest solution is a trap. Set the trap on a foraging tunnel and follow the directions carefully to ensure humane results.

Published: July 19, 2011
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