December 21, 2006

From Such as This are Mountains Made

Filed under: homeowning — Brian @ 7:02 am

A few weeks ago, I awoke to find in the backyard a trail. A small raised trail. A ridge. A burrow. A tunnel. From the side of the house, all the way to the end of the yard, where it abruptly stopped.

We have shrews in the yard now and then, and they make tunnels through the grass, but not like these. Those tunnels are actually in the grass – sometimes hard to see, but definitely little tubes above the dirt. And this was not that. This was underground. The earth was pushed up below the grass. Cracked in some places, but mostly just raised up.

My first thought was to lay mousetraps. We use those to catch the shrews when they get out of hand (which is to say when we notice the tunnels). Shrews eat the roots out from under the plants, killing them. And moles are bigger, so they must be a bigger problem. But, since they’re bigger animals, mousetraps might be too small.

Somewhere, I’d heard that moles eat grubs, and the way to get rid of moles is to get rid of the grubs. But I hadn’t noticed a grub problem, and I’d rather not poison the entire backyard just to get rid of one mole. And besides, the grub killer kills grubs. And there aren’t any grubs this time of year in Ohio. So, it’s not grubs.

At the home improvement store, I searched the pest eradication aisle for an answer. I found poison baits to leave around. No good. We have dogs.

I found poison smoke bombs. (Are normal smoke bombs healthy?) No good. The trails are extensive, and I’ve learned by now that moles are fast and smart – they’ll sense the smoke and plug up the tunnel, or dig away from the smoke.

I read about noisemakers, where you plug one end into a wall outlet, and the other into the ground, where it plays Snoop Dogg or whatever to scare the moles away. I read that those don’t work either.

I read that, in places where it’s illegal to kill moles, the mole eradication companies will not guarantee results.

I found a mole trap. If you’ve not seen a mole trap, think “bear leg-hold trap” but smaller. It’s two forged steel horseshoe-ish pieces, held together with a spring so powerful you need a tool (free, inside!) to force them open so you can set it. This sounded like what I needed, until I remembered the dogs. Certainly, this thing would break a dog’s leg (or a child’s hand .. we have those, too). Again, no good.

So, I’d resolved to let it go. A few tunnles in the backyard are nothing terrible, and, so long as it’s not damaging anything or killing expensive plants, what’s the harm? The yard could use a little aeration, and isn’t there a better answer than just killing things you don’t like? I was all set to live and let live.

Then, it goes and does this:


Molehills. Notice how dark the dirt is. If you dig more than an inch or two down in my yard, the topsoil gives way to brown clay. That dirt isn’t from down low, it’s from around the roots of my grass. And these are popping up all over now. And the trails are getting more extensive.

Back to my options:

Poison? No. Too likely to harm something else.

Trap to kill? No. Too likely to harm something else.

Trap to catch? No. Unlikely to work, not sure it’s legal to relocate wildlife around here.

That leaves few options. I’m torn between standing all day next to the trail with a pitchfork in hand, and standing all day next to the trail with a shotgun in hand.

But the tines in my pitchfork are pretty far apart, so I’m likely to miss the guy, even if I do see the tunnel move. And I don’t own a shotgun.

So, what do you do about moles? How do I get rid of it without becoming Carl Spackler, the groundskeeper from Caddyshack along the way?



  1. Hey, I think you should just move to Texas! Let ’em have Ohio!

    Comment by Eric — December 21, 2006 @ 4:42 pm

  2. We have the same problem and I’ve done a little research and come up with this: (fox urine!)

    Let me know how it works. For now, we are letting things take their natural course and hoping that our home is still standing come Spring (they are building a very large underground metroplex from what I can tell). ;-)

    Comment by Gwynne — December 21, 2006 @ 9:19 pm

  3. Eric, that sounds like something to add to the “pros” column of the “moving to Texas” sheet.

    Gwynne – it’s powdered fox urine, no less! That might be worth a try. Make ’em think we called in the posse on him, and send him packing … to the neighbors’ yard… Maybe I’ll get a bottle for them, too.

    Comment by Brian — December 22, 2006 @ 7:01 am

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