How to Get Rid of Moles

The best way to deal with moles is to either trap them or tidy up in their wake.

When I go out and see how moles have ripped up my lawn once again, I take a deep breath and try to remember all the good they do. They mix and aerate the soil to improve it tremendously, and eat many destructive insects, such as cutworms and Japanese beetle larvae (a type of grub).        

That said, I wish I could get rid of them. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. Some key bits of information on coping with moles:

• Sprays, gizmos, and home remedies don’t work.
Sprays, repellents, ultrasonic devices, human hair, chewing gum, and the like don’t provide consistent, effective controls.

• Getting rid of grubs doesn’t work.
Moles eat a variety of insects, grubs among them. Treat grubs only if the grubs themselves are damaging your lawn–not because you want to get rid of moles. Moles have plenty of other things to munch on.

• Poisons are problematic.
Commerical mole poisons work in killing moles, but only if you can get the moles to eat them. They’re usually plant-based and moles like meat (i.e. insects). Also, the poison needs to be placed where the mole is going to be–they don’t revisit tunnels. Moles plow through the soil to devour the insects in it, leaving tunnels in their wake. So you have to anticipate where the mole is heading–which is next to impossible.

• Dogs and cats can help.
A dog or cat may trap or kill a mole, either eating it or leaving the carcass lying around. Also, a dog may dig up the tunnel to get to the mole, which gets rid of the mole but  makes a mess of another sort.

• Trapping, if you’re willing to do it, works.
Trapping is the most effective method for dealing with moles. But, of course, you also have to figure out the trap, be diligent and knowledgeable in setting it, and then you have a carcass or live animal to remove. Quick-kill traps are especially effective. Click here for more detailed information on trapping and moles generally from Iowa State University.

Another alternative is to find a professional who will trap and remove the carcasses for you.

• Deal with the damage.
A single mole can rip up to 14 feet of tunnel a day. To repair this, simply walk along the tunnel to collapse it. Then sprinkle with lawn seed heavily. Work the seed in lightly with a trowel or your hand. Water gently and then daily for the next two weeks.

Yes, that much watering is a pain, but that seed bed needs to stay moist for good germination. If it’s just impossible to water that much that long, water daily for just the first week. The results aren’t as good, but at least some grass will get established.

Thank you to Sue Fairbanks, professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State University for reviewing this article.