Moles can be quite a problem for gardeners. Given that they reside underground and only come out at night (and for very short periods at that) when they push the “diggings of the day” to the surface, forming a molehill, and that, moreover, they are not attracted by the usual sweet or odoriferous baits that we place out to catch rodents, they are simply very difficult to control. However, that doesn’t stop them from tunneling through our lawns and gardens, lifting the sod and leaving molehills everywhere. Although they don’t eat our plants, they can nevertheless be quite destructive.
But not to worry! You just have to put a stick of Juicy Fruit gum into one of their tunnels and they will greedily eat it. Then the gum blocks their digestive system, leading to their death!
Wonderful, isn’t it? Except it’s not true. Not even close! Yes, it’s yet another gardening myth.
Moles are, in fact, mostly vermivorous (they eat earthworms) and secondarily insectivorous and molluscivorous, eating insects (including ones harmful to our gardens, like cutworms, white grubs and wireworms), slugs and snails. Gum simply doesn’t interest them!
What to Do?
My suggestions as a laidback gardener?
First, keep the Juicy Fruit for yourself. It’s really quite tasty. You could probably use it to trap humans!
Secondly, just try to ignore them. They do most damage in the spring, when the ground is still soggy after snow melt, as at that season they need to tunnel near the surface, leaving a trail of lumpy soil. They’re pretty harmless the rest of the time … and they do eat white grubs, not an insect many people like. So if a lumpy lawn really doesn’t bother you, it really is possible to learn to simply live with them.
Thirdly, if they’re really causing a problem you can’t ignore, try trapping them. You’ll find mole traps in most hardware stores. The trap has to be placed in an active tunnel, one where the earth has recently been disturbed. There is no need to bait it: the idea is to set it up so that it’s placed over the tunnel, so when the mole comes bumbling along its underground path, it will crawl right into the trap. Then … kabam!
The good news is that you’re probably only dealing with one mole, as they’re solitary creatures. (Yes, all that damage is being caused by one very small mammal!) So when you have caught the varmint in your trap, the problem will be solved … at least for the current season.