Going after molesGoing after moles

The mole. It knows where you live.

“We can do that (kill every gopher on the golf course); we don’t even have to have a reason.” - Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) in “Caddyshack”

The single most effective method of removing moles from the yard is a scrappy dachshund/Labrador retriever mix with. ... Whoa, wait. That’s MY method. And you can’t have her.

Fortunately, there are any number of other methods for getting rid of the grass-killing, tunneling vermin.

More than 50 readers commented when The Post and Courier asked for their methods on Facebook.

 

 

They use everything from Juicy Fruit gum wads (swear by it) to metal yard decorations that spin (the vibration drives them away).

The methods have one thing in common. None of them work. Not all the time. There’s no real way to keep the ground-chomping varmints from eventually coming back.

And one more thing. At least two of three mole species in South Carolina — the hairy-tailed mole and the star-nosed mole — are listed as high priority species of concern by S.C. Department of Natural Resources. These are critters the state worries are disappearing and need habitat protections.

The odds, in other words, are stacked against you like the tunnel mounds of dirt tearing up your sod.

“I push down the hills, all that I can find. Then I pull out a chair, my shovel and a cocktail of my choosing and wait a hour or two. He will show within that time and I will slam my shovel into the dirt at the mole’s location and flip it out. I have successfully gotten two in the past year.” - Bart King, The Post and Courier Facebook comment

 “Gallons of water and a baseball bat. Pour the water down the hole. When they come up...WHACK-A-MOLE!!!!” - Frank Castle, Facebook

Moles seem to be popping up everywhere this winter. But don’t fool yourself. They were there all along. The rainy periods have flooded the nests they burrow deep in tree root systems. They’re just trying to relocate.

Meanwhile, the rain and temperature variations are moving the insects they feed on higher or lower in the ground. They are just digging in after them.

Moles are little mouselike things that dig tunnels to nest and feed. But they’re not rodents; they’re related to shrews. They are mammals just like us. Except they eat stuff we’re not so fond of: insects. Moles are found everywhere there’s food for them. And if food is insects, that’s sure everywhere in the Lowcountry.

“They’re basically just digging a buffet line.” - David Bevis, Holy Moley removal company

The favorite fixes among readers who commented were cats and dogs, and cats more than dogs.

“Our cat Bootsie is the master mole-hunter of Cottage Farm. Bootsie sleeps most of the day and hunts at night. She’s exhausted during the day from staying up at night. Bootsie leaves the moles as gifts at our garage door.” - Bliss Baxley, Facebook

“My dogs get all my moles. Unfortunately, the yard looks like the trench system of World War I.” - Joan Peters, Facebook

But cats tend to prefer birds, the more sporting catch, which makes them something of a menace to other species said to be declining. And dogs are, well, doggone.

So, what can you do?

“Move. Because they do not seem to go away with any treatments we have tried.” - Pat Heaitley Bowen, Facebook

“Kill what they eat! Grubs!! When the grubs are gone, the moles move on to the neighbors!” - Frank Davis, The Post and Courier Facebook

The standard advice is to use pesticides to kill grubs, one of the moles’ feasts. But Amanda McNulty of Clemson University Extension Service said it’s not worth the cost unless the grubs have overrun the soil. Besides, moles prefer earthworms, which you don’t want to kill.

She recommends flattening the tunnel mounds repeatedly until the moles get discouraged.

No, trap the moles, says David Bevis of Mount Pleasant, who runs a business to do just that.

He’s adamant enough about it to add that if you don’t want to pay a trapper, buy your own traps, because none of the treatments are going to completely do away with the moles.

“They’re under the house, under the drive, under the road. They’ve been there years before they show up. You have to trap them. They’re not going to pack up and move somewhere else. When you use chemicals or (other treatments) they just dig deeper.”

McNulty said trapping is the next best bet. But she recommended using pitfall traps rather than skewer traps.

Naturally, there’s a secret to trapping: The trick is to find the main tunnel, Bevis said.

Main tunnels tend to be larger, lightning bolt-shaped mounds extending from a tree root system where the mole is nesting.

When it comes to picking one out, experience counts for a lot, he suggested.

Of course, there’s a ton of other methods.

“Clove or some other harsh essential oil.” - Michael Rhoads, Facebook

“Feenamints. That laxative will get them moving.” - Cambridge Jenkins, Facebook

So, there you go, so to speak. It is worth pointing out the medieval-torture-device-looking traps skewer the moles, leaving you with a pest kebob.

So the question becomes what to do with them next? Maybe, as one observer suggested wryly, a nice Mexican mole sauce.

“Mole fur is nondirectional. If you could have a moleskin coat, that would be the best thing in the world.” - Amanda McNulty

“I leave my moles alone. Moles improve the fertility of soil because they aerate and mix the layers of soil by constant digging. (They) also help create a drainage system for soil. Moles eat up insects and weeds. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” - Jennifer Miklos Holstein, Facebook

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.