Even though it’s the middle of January, spring is right around the corner. And while we enjoy the return of our flowers, green grass, and that lovely warm weather, we don’t enjoy all of the hibernating pests waking up at this time. One pest, in particular, is a major menace to our gardens. That pest is the garden mole. Here’s how to recognize the signs of a mole problem and how to tell the difference between moles and voles, who often get mistaken for each other.
We’re not talking about the moles on your skin. We’re talking about those cute but annoying critters that tear up our yards. These animals are part of the rodent family and clock between 6 and 12 inches in length. Many people are surprised to learn just how small moles are! They have giant front paws that help them burrow into the earth, and these claws make up for their extremely poor eyesight. Their poor eyesight makes them vulnerable to predators, so they’ll spend the majority of their life underground.
As moles go about their business, they displace dirt (as you’ve no doubt noticed). In doing so, moles expose plant roots which causes them to dry out and eventually die. Mole activity also can physically move the plants from the soil. As you probably know, moving plants is a delicate process that requires careful consideration so that the plants aren’t damaged. Moles don’t care about this. So if it looks like someone’s been pulling up plants in a willy-nilly fashion, it’s probably the work of a mole. It’s a shame moles are so destructive because they eat many pests that we’d rather not see in our gardens. Grubs are one of their favorite foods!
Even though moles live underground, their tunnels are visible from above. These tunnels look like raised areas – as if someone’s been through your yard with a plow – except they aren’t straight lines. Moles will tunnel wherever they need to to find food. The moles use tunnels for different purposes, and if the tunnels are used for hunting grubs and other food, they will be closer to the surface since most of their food lives on or near the surface of your lawn. You can typically tell how fresh the tunnel is by the health of the grass. Older tunnels will have dead or wilted grass since moles damage the grassroots as they dig. Moles will only occupy the feeding tunnels until the bugs run out. When that happens, they’ll seek new hunting grounds.
The appearance of a molehill is one of the earliest signs of a mole problem. These hills look like small piles of dirt – as if someone’s plopped a shovelful of topsoil right on your lawn. The size of molehills varies, but typically molehills are a couple of inches in height. These hills manifest because all that tunneled dirt has to go somewhere. It’s no different than pavement ants creating anthills along the cracks of driveways and sidewalks.
Voles only get about 8 inches maximum, while moles can be as large as a foot in length. Voles also brownish-black fur and gray bellies. And while moles lack external ears, voles have typical round rodent ears. Moles are dark, usually black, with large webbed claws in front. Voles look like a mouse but bigger and without a long tail.
Moles and voles often get confused for one another and might even be used interchangeably, but they are two entirely different creatures. Moles are carnivores and feed on insects, while voles eat on plant leaves, roots, and bulbs. Voles also eat bark from trees and shrubs, often near the soil line. As you can imagine, vole activity causes a lot of damage to landscaping. Voles don’t live underground as moles do. Instead, they live in dense vegetation.
Voles don’t disturb the ground the way moles do – so if you notice your plants dying off mysteriously but don’t see the telltale furrows, there’s a good chance you’ve got a vole and not a mole. While just as annoying, at least you won’t have to deal with the eyesores that furrows create. But all that dead grass they’ve chewed could result in extra lawn care.
Mole activity also creates weed problems. All that disturbed soil can kick up dormant weed seeds and bring them to the surface.
The surest, safest, and most humane way to get rid of moles is to contact Environmental Turf Management. We have the experience, equipment, and training to get the job done right. Moles are a favorite target for fleas and ticks, so it’s important not to handle moles yourself. Doing so is not only dangerous – you could be exposed to horrible diseases – but in some cases, it’s illegal to remove moles yourself. Don’t run the risk of a major medical issue or a visit from the local authorities. Instead, let the professionals at Environmental Turf Management handle your mole problem!
Moles will soon wake up from their winter hibernation, and when they do, they’ll tunnel through yards and destroy the dreams of homeowners. Don’t let this happen to your yard! For 22 years, the professionals at Environmental Turf Management have rescued thousands of yards from the clutches of annoying moles and other pests. As a full-service lawn care service company, we’ll not only remove the moles but also help you restore damaged areas of your lawn.
If you’re concerned about your unwanted mole visitor, give us a call at (770) 466-0234 or send us a message through our online form here. If you’re interested in learning more about keeping your yard green and pest-free, be sure to check out our blog page here.
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