Nothing is more aggravating to a gardener proud of his well-manicured lawn than the sight of mole hills springing up across the grass. Mole extermination can be costly and frustrating, and it's tempting to try to sort the problem out yourself first.
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Moles are created to dig as efficiently as possible, and dig they do. A report by the University of California-Berkeley found that an Oregon mole built more than 300 mounds in 11 weeks. Moles create circular mounds in the shape of a volcano summit, unlike gopher mounds, which are usually flat.
The effect of mole digging is largely cosmetic, often causing grass to turn brown by disturbing the roots.
If you don't want to call an exterminator to rid your yard of moles, there are many traps for sale that you can set by hand.
If you're interested in creating a do-it-yourself mole trap, though, you're best bet is a technique that's been around since the Roman Empire. Evidence of mole removal was discovered in excavations of Roman sites, when earthenware pots were found buried to the rim underground.
To catch your moles, dig a hole in the middle of the mole's path, or runway, deep and wide enough so that you can place a planter or a 3-pound coffee can completely in the hole, with its rim at the edge of the mole's path. Place a board across the top to block out light.
Of course, trapping the mole in this manner leaves you with the problem of having to either exterminate the mole yourself or find a safe place to let the mole go free.
If no mole appears in your trap after two days, it probably means that the mole is either no longer using the pathway where the trap is located or that the mole has noticed the trap and is avoiding it. Try moving the trap to a new path.
Look for evidence of freshly moved dirt and a straight path to choose a likely location for your trap.
Before you set about removing moles from your property, weigh their benefits. Moles can help to aerate soil and improve drainage by digging, and they play a role in the ecosystem by eating many insects and garden pests. They rarely eat flowers or vegetables. Removing a mole population may turn out to be more trouble than it's worth.