You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

The Plant Medic

  • Be patient, await new growth before pruning
    Q. It seems as if my normal garden “to-do” list is already out of kilter this season. When can I begin cleaning up, fertilizing and reseeding lawns, pruning and other tasks? A.
  • Winter’s been hard on yards
    Q. How long is this winter going to last? What should I be looking at in my landscape that might be affected by this dreadful winter? A.
  • Cover up plants to end rabbit feedings
    Q. Rabbits are having a feast on the burning bush in my back yard. What can I do to stop them from killing it? A. We have received many calls about rabbit browsing this winter.
Advertisement

Mama moles making their mark all over our yards

Q. Over the winter months, we have noticed mounds of soil beginning to appear in our yard. The mounds are about a foot in diameter and about 6 inches in height. What is causing this?

A. It looks like this could be a banner year for moles based on the reports we have received at the extension office. The mounds of soil you are observing are when the mole tunnels straight down into the soil to reach the den deep below. The mole pushes soil behind it as it digs. That is why you see the mounds of soil on the surface.

This is the time of the year when moles forage for earthworms and insect larvae when the ground is not frozen. The mole “mom” is feeding her kits now but will eventually banish the teen moles from the den in late spring to find their own backyards to inhabit.

There are many myths regarding mole control in backyards, and so many products on the market that claim to work. In reality, the only research-based methods to control moles are trapping and worm-based poison baits. Grain based poison baits, castor oil, electronic devices, whirligigs, chewing gum, gasoline, and other “cures” have no research to back their claims.

Many folks try these products and believe they work when mole activity decreases in the summer. They don’t know that mole activity naturally decreases in late spring and early summer.

This frustrates homeowners who are looking for quick easy fixes to rid the yards of moles. Moles actually do not damage or eat any plant material. The major issue is that their barrowing activity will result in an unsightly bumpy lawn that is difficult to mow. Sometimes the soil can be pushed up enough so that in drought situations – the grass could die.

Some homeowners just give up and accept the bumpy raised areas in the lawn. They might lightly roll the lawn occasionally to flatten things out a bit. Other folks seem determined to rid the lawn of the moles. To do so, one must invest time and energy to set mole traps or place Talprind baits in active runs – or hire a critter control company to trap or poison the moles.

If one has the resources, a registered and bonded critter control company may be a good option. They assume all the responsibility and liability to control moles – and have the expertise to do so more efficiently than you.

If you insist on doing the job yourself, then make sure to locate active runs (the ones the moles fix when stamped upon).

Moles can be crafty, so there is never any guarantee of 100 percent control.

The Plant Medic, written by Ricky Kemery, appears every other Sunday. Kemery is the extension educator for horticulture at the Allen County branch of the Purdue Extension Service. Send questions to kemeryr@purdue.edu.

Advertisement