Movies like the cartoon “Thumbelina” portray moles as blind creatures that only live underground and hoard treasures. However, these yard pests aren’t often depicted correctly in films.
If you’ve ever had problems with moles in your yard, then you know exactly how destructive these pests can be. But if you’ve never encountered a mole on your property, you may not know how to identify this pest-and you probably won’t know if you have an infestation or not.
Below, we’ve provided a resource guide for your benefit. Read on to learn about moles so you can properly identify them on your property.
What Are Moles and How Can I Identify Them?
Moles are tiny mammals that live a fossorial, or underground and digging, life. They prefer sandy and moist soil, so you’ll typically find them outside rather than in your home.
Their bodies are cylindrical in shape, and they have small, short limbs with incredibly large paws. Moles have ears so small that you usually can’t see them with the naked eye. They’re also covered in a smooth, velvet-like fur and measure about six inches in length.
When you think of moles, you likely think of creatures that also have star-shaped noses. However, starnosed moles are only one of six species that live in the US. Other species have rounded or pointy noses instead of the iconic star shape.
The most commonly seen mole in the States is the Eastern mole. It’s gray in color and has paws that look like spades to help it dig better. While this mole (and all moles) isn’t blind, its small eyes, as well as its ears, are covered by fur. Moles do have poor-quality vision because their eyes are so small, but their hearing is actually incredibly sharp.
Additionally, moles are also insectivores, meaning they eat worms, beetles, ants, and other insects and arthropods. Sometimes, moles will eat vegetable matter and seeds, but their diet consists primarily of insects. Interestingly, a mole can eat up to 80 percent of its weight each day to accommodate for the energy it uses as it digs.
What Damage Do Moles Cause?
Because moles won’t usually enter your home (unless they accidentally dug too far, which rarely happens), you don’t have to worry about these pests damaging your home, getting into your pantry, or rummaging through your trash cans.
But because moles dig and burrow, they wreak havoc on your landscape. As they dig, moles create mazes of tunnels that can be either shallow or deep, depending on where the mole decided to travel. If a mole ever surfaces, it will create mounds of dirt and large holes in your yard.
And, while moles are insectivorous, they can still inflict damage on your garden or other plant life. In their search for food, moles will dig up any dirt in their path-including the dirt that protects and nourishes your fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other plants. Without that nourishment and protection, the plant life will die.
Other pests, like voles or mice, will also access the moles’ tunnels to eat the bulbs and roots of your plants. In turn, the plants will die. In addition to dying plant life, you may notice dead grass in unusual patterns or low, sagging spots in your yard.
Are Moles Harmful to Humans or Animals?
Again, because moles like to stay outside and underground as much as possible, you likely won’t encounter these pests often. Moles won’t ever attack humans-in fact, if you find one above ground, it will dig to escape. If a mole doesn’t dig away, it is probably sick or dying, so don’t touch it.
Additionally, moles can carry rabies, but rabies-ridden moles are rare. And while these pests won’t usually interact with humans, moles can injure or infect animals if the mole does have the rabies virus. Typically, an animal or pet may become injured if it tries to catch an above-ground mole at night or if it digs a mole out of its mound.
In incredibly rare situations, a mole may bite a human who tries to pick it up. If you are bitten by a mole, the area will become slightly red and swollen. To prevent infection, wash the area and disinfect it. If the redness or swelling gets worse, seek medical attention immediately.
How Do I Get Rid of Moles?
There are a few at-home methods you can use to rid your property of moles. You can spray your yard with a mixture of one part dish soap and three parts castor oil to eliminate moles. Simply mix this solution of soap and oil with one gallon of water and thoroughly wet the mole mounds. You can also sprinkle coffee grounds on your soil to achieve a similar effect.
While these measures can temporarily remove moles from your yard, the best way to remove these pests from your property is to hire a pest control specialist. If you notice any signs of moles in your yard, contact the experts at Cavanaugh’s. We offer all-inclusive pest control programs to rid your home and property of any pest, including moles.