Do moles eat plants or not?

Asked June 27, 2013, 4:02 PM EDT

A 2002 OSU Extension publication states "Up to 20 percent of the diet of Townsend’s mole is plant material," yet other publications say moles don't eat plants or bulbs, only voles do. Also, I have read that moles are good for ridding your garden of white grubs and other possible pests. So should I worry about tunnels in my garden or not?

Yamhill County Oregon wildlife damage management moles

4 Responses

Moles do not eat plants, voles do eat plants and often use mole tunneling to do it.

Thanks for verifying this. The 2002 publication may be misleading. It states: "Moles sometimes eat or damage tulips, lilies, iris, carrots, potatoes, peas, beans, corn, oats, wheat, and many other plants. Individual moles might feed heavily on such items."

Can you suggest a way to keep them from tunneling under newly planted blueberries? I'm afraid the roots will not find soil has they spread.

Blueberries like a very acid soil and in many cases need to be planted on mounds and amended to accomplish this. Then the mounds are covered with sawdust or other acidic mulch. The blueberry root system is shallow and often into the mulch.
The addition of mulch will make a habitat for earthworm’s that will help with soil tilth, thus creating the food chain.
The mole being deeper than the root system most of the time will add to soil drainage by creating macro pores.
So the bottom line is the mole is helping you out in this case.

Great response. I just planted these blueberries and the little guy has poked his head out in four places around one particular plant. I have yet to put my mulch on, but amended the soil with some peat moss at planting. I guess I will just let the peat go down his tunnel holes so he can work it into the soil for me further. Thank you.