Moles (friends or foes?)

Asked July 19, 2020, 4:47 PM EDT

I just read the MD Extension's blurb about moles, which are running a kind of mole highway in our backyard. We do, in fact, have foxes that hunt them, and probably snakes (but I don't see that damage). Is it actually beneficial to leave them alone to aerate the soil and provide food for foxes and snakes? The foxes, in their digging, leave the yard looking like a war zone. I do rather dislike the idea of traps, and it seems that castor oil treatment is not particularly effective. I realize this is a somewhat subjective topic, but would like some input.

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

In general mole activity is seasonal in the fall and spring and rainy periods in the summer when the soil is moist. This time of year when it is hot moles burrow deeper into the soil profile and tunnels are not usually noticed.

Moles create raised tunnels in soils and feed on soil insects including earthworms, grubs, etc. They do not cause plant damage. They are beneficial in that they feed on many pest insects and their tunneling mixes deeper soils with surface organic material. In most cases activity stops on its own and control is not needed. Moles usually move on when their food supply and habitat changes.

There are no easy solutions when it comes to mole control.
Repellents for moles have a limited success rate and are not recommended.
We do not recommend using a grub control to control moles because it does not effectively reduce mole activity. Moles feed on other available food sources such as earthworms and other soil insects making grub control ineffective.
Trapping is difficult and may be short term if good habitat is present.

We recommend tamping down raised tunnels with your foot when it is not wet so you do not compact the soil. It is possible some reseeding may be needed.
Here is more about moles http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/moles
and our publication
https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/wildlife/HG90%20Dealing%20with%20Nuisance%20Wildlife_2018.pdf

Marian