A molehill, also known as a mole mound, is a conical structure often observed on grounds, lawns, and gardens. The typical structure of a molehill indicates that the conical mound comprises of soil.
You will notice an arrangement of disturbed or loose soil raised by various burrowing animals such as moles, voles, and mole rats; hence the name molehill. Marsupial moles can also build molehills.
Sometimes the existence of molehills is the sole sign that you may have moles around. Molehills are waste materials generated when an animal repairs or digs its burrow. You often find them in areas where animals are making new burrows or where current burrows suffer damage.
If moles dig beneath tree roots or shrubs, these roots may support a tunnel. In that case, mole hills will be uncommon, and even though moles infest the area, they would remain inconspicuous.
Usually, you will find them in lines along the burrow’s route, in other cases instead of being above the burrow, you find them at the end of side-tunnels. Mole runs tend to differ in depth; some are just a few inches, while others may be twelve to eighteen inches in depth.
Mole hills can damage gardens, lawns, golf courses and even pose safety hazards. You can get rid of undesirable mole hills by killing moles or by using deterrent plants such as caper spurge or castor bean.
Moles make mole hills for various reasons; however, the primary reason is feeding. Moles eat plenty of meat mainly in the form of spiders, insects, and earthworms. They dig blindly and fast through the ground soil, eating worms and insects they find.
Moles have an alarmingly high metabolism, which is the main reason they have to eat a lot. They can easily consume food in quantities nearly equal to their body weight on a daily basis.
To find such high quantity of food, they have to dig a lot, making molehills in the process. In an average lawn or garden, a mole could dig up to fifteen feet each hour. Apart from the surface feeding tunnels, most moles dig much deeper tunnels as wells; these are called runways.
They use these tunnels to make nests and navigate their territory. A traveling tunnel serves as a pathway between the den and feeding areas.
A majority of feeding areas feature distinct clusters of shallow tunnels and hills. Their main purpose is to let the moles hunt for their main prey, which is worms. Active moles can incite despair and rage in gardeners as they can easily lay waste to a beautiful garden or well-tended lawn in short order.
However, contrary to popular belief, moles do not eat plants. But the surface tunnels they dig up may disturb the plant roots, causing a lot of distress. In lawns and gardens, molehills tend to make mowing and walking quite difficult and damage the grass as well. And, keep in mind that voles can hijack their tunnels; these are mice who can eat plants.
Just when many gardeners think they have gotten their yard to the pinnacle of orderliness and neatness, they find a pesky mole ready to turn their well-tended lawn into a superhighway!
The bad news is that gardeners are ideal mole-magnets; this is because of their mulching, tilling, and watering provides a virtual haven or paradise for these small furry critters that tend to love a moist, nice and worm-rich hunting ground.
Overwatering tends to saturate the soil which invites both moles and earthworms to the surface. Irrigation of lawn on a frequent basis can attract moles to your yard. Lack of activity in your yard may also attract moles because they are very active during quieter periods like late evening or early morning.
It goes without saying that you will have to get rid of moles to avoid molehills. There are numerous ways to eliminate moles in your garden or lawn such as mole fumigation, trapping moles and using mole poisons, etc.
Lawn and yard damage caused by molehills can plague lawn care specialists and homeowners alike. Moles are rare because they tirelessly and persistently tunnel underground, leaving their unsightly telltale marks above the ground in the form of mounds of soil, molehills, or grassless brown streaks.
Using mole traps is, in most cases, the most effective way to eliminate moles and get rid of molehills. When buying a mole trap ensure it is efficient, safe and durable.
Trapping moles is most effective during the fall and spring months, especially after rain. Garden moles are quite difficult to locate and hunt in the winter and summer months because they dig their tunnels much deeper in the soil.
It is important to locate all the runways first if you are using a mole trap. You can do it by carefully stepping on the mounds or runs and marking the location. Then wait for about 24 to 48 hours and see whether the opening has re-opened (this is an indication of mole activity).
Set up your mole trap in this location. Just place your trap jaws inside the mole tunnel. Most mole traps have foot pedals which set the underground trigger. Step on the pedal to set the trap.
Most traps have dual springs to ensure more catching power. Whenever a mole encounters the trigger, the pedal will spring up to notify you of mole capture. Compress the pedal with your hands to release the captured mole. You can safely and easily disengage the trap and relocate it to another mole tunnel.
Most mole baits have a shape, size and feel that allows the moles to consume them just as their primary source of food, the earthworm. A single worm often contains a fatal dose of an active ingredient called bromethalin, which can capitalize on the high energy demands of the mole. Moreover, special enhancers contained in mole baits ensure better product acceptance and immediate attraction. These baits can kill a majority of moles with 24 hours.
The use of poisonous gases for fumigation yields good results. However, it can be iffy if the mole runways are very extensive, causing these gases to vent to the surface or easily absorb in the soil. You can get the best results with fumigation. You should hire an experienced exterminator. They will be able to gas all the major nests.
There are many professional mole repellents available on the market that can drive moles away from the yard. Many of these repellents comprise of organic ingredients such as citronella oil, castor oil, and garlic oil.
You can apply mole repellents during fall and spring months which are considered mole seasons. Their effect can last from 30 to 45 days and can cover as much as 16, 000 square feet.
Another great way to eliminate moles in your yard and get rid of molehills is to place something in their tunnels that has a bad or pungent smell and is also biodegradable. Many people have been successful with things such as extremely old cheese or wisps of dry grass thoroughly soaked in sour milk or over-fermented yogurt.
Strong noise can also help drive moles away as they prefer quiet spaces; so, you may try placing a loud radio in their runways and force them to search for an alternate abode.
Treating your garden or lawn with granular insecticides can help eliminate moles’ food sources such as grubs, insects, and earthworms and force them to migrate somewhere else. Although most insecticides are not specially made to kill moles, many people have found them effective.
However, they have one drawback. The elimination of food source can trigger moles to tunnel more quickly and aggressively in their search for food, leading to temporary surface damage. The surface and tunneling damage may last for two to four weeks.
You can choose drought-resistant plants and grasses that need less watering to get rid of moles in your yard or try native plants that are less susceptible to damage and need less water compared to imported varieties. Moreover, you can protect the raised beds by carefully lining them with metal hardware cloth and set up mole barriers around your yard's perimeter.