We’ve grown accustomed to having to deal with insects in the lawn, but they aren’t the only members of the animal kingdom that can give us trouble. Plenty of mammals can also cause lawn issues, and we will address three of them this week. The first one we will take a look at is the mole.
The most common mole found in the United States is the Eastern mole. These animals are insectivores, which can be a double-edged sword – on one hand, they will eat some of the insects you don’t want around your lawn and garden. On the other hand, they tend not to discriminate and will also eat beneficial insects.
Moles live in tunnels under ground, and will create a large network of tunnels that can stretch for hundreds of feet. They rarely venture out of their tunnels, as much of their food can be found while they are digging through the soil. They need to eat quite a bit to survive on a daily basis, so they are constantly digging through land in search of more food.
Moles are rarely seen above ground, but are around 6 inches in length and are covered in gray to dark brown fur – these pelts used to be in high demand for use in clothing. They have long noses and webbed front feet, which have a second thumb. They are relatively anti-social creatures, with only one or two active in an area at once. They mate rarely, having only a handful of offspring, and have short lifespans, usually only three years or so.
As they eat insects, the damage to a lawn is generally incidental, but it can be severe nonetheless. As can be seen in the picture, the tunnels can cause the lawn above them to push up and break up, leading to browning and death. They will also dig up through the surface, creating divots. These hills, ridges, and divots can be dangerous to humans and animals, and a tunnel that collapses under the weight of of a piece of equipment can break the equipment and injure the operator.
Getting rid of moles can be fairly easy. Fatal and non-fatal traps are usually extremely successful in trapping moles – non-fatal traps allow for the mole to be relocated to a different site. The chemical route works as well – poisons and anticoagulants can kill off the moles, while castor oil can be used to repel them. Also, removing the food sources can make it so that the moles are not enticed to burrow under your lawn, so a lawn-grub treatment can knock out the food that draws the moles in.