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March 21, 2013

About moles in your garden and landscape

by Debra Anchors

The Common Mole - Image from National Geographic
Contrary to popular belief, moles are not rodents; they are insectivores. Averaging 7-inches long, these tiny eating machines consume nearly their body weight in insects, slugs, and grubs every day. Those of us who have come across slugs or grubs while gardening know that they are not very big. Imagine how many grubs a mole would need to eat before reaching its body weight!

The reality is, if you have a population of moles in your landscape, you need them.  A mole requires welcoming, moist soil, which provide it with shelter as well as a steady diet of invertebrates to fuel its racing metabolism.  No invertebrates in your soil? No moles.

As a mole breaststrokes through its dark and moist world, it pushes the soil out of its way and down the sides of its body, forming both runways and tunnels from which to feed. Nearly blind, a common mole cruises just below the surface of the soil, at the root level of many plants, and uses its highly developed senses of smell, touch, and hearing, as well as sensitivity to vibrations, to locate food.  As a mole burrows, it leaves behind the telltale signs of his presence – a mounding wake of loose, crumbling, soil.  A mole may only travel his mounded runway once before moving on to a better feeding ground of insects.

The permanent tunnels of moles are used year-round and are located about a foot under ground. Those tunnels often lead to burrows, lined with grass, which in the spring can be home to three to six young.  A mound of soil at the surface, or molehill, is characteristic of a mole’s burrow.

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-Debra

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5 comments:

  1. Cute little creatures. Don't think we have them in Ireland.
    Bridget

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    1. Ireland, then, is indeed fortunate, Bridget! Thank you for dropping in! -Debra

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  2. Found one little Mole trapped in our window well a few years back. Thankfully, we have never seen another. Your post has some interesting facts about these not so popular little creatures.

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  3. These moles are tearing up my yard and neighbors on each side of me !!!! I have tried simple tasks to out them . Everyday more hills !!!! I don"t really appreciate them !!!!

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    1. You and your neighbors must be serving quite a buffet of grubs. I am sorry; and know from personal experience how frustrating moles can be. Perhaps there are enough moles in the area now that the food supply will soon run out!

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