We Got the Moles

by Daisy on 01/03/2013

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I don’t like this.

In case you can’t tell, what you see in the photo is a hole where a nice fat head of radicchio once grew. All that’s left is a splay of rootless outer leaves left to desiccate around the hole.ย  A mole hole.

Short of putting hardware cloth beneath the entire garden (garden too big for that), what works to keep out moles?

I don’t want to be a hog, but I really like radicchio and don’t want to share with moles.ย  They don’t even eat the whole plant, just plow through the roots, leaving wilted leaves and a sorry sinkhole.

I’m not going to go all Caddyshack over here, so what should I do, within reason? Help!


{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad Dawkins January 3, 2013 at 10:26 am

An arborist once told me to drop a half stick of Juicy Fruit gum down every mole hole you see. The flavor attracts the mole, but eating the gum is lethal. (Does something to digestive system, I think.) I have not tried this, but it’s cheap and couldn’t hurt. (Except the mole, of course.)


Kathie January 3, 2013 at 11:06 am

We have those little pest also. I have tried the gum and it didn’t help. I have tried the little solar thing that emits the sound they are supposed to hate, the mole put a new mound right next to the solar thing! We have tried poison in a tunnel we found, no success. I am about at my witts end, my flower beds and garden are looking terrible thanks to this pest. Help!!!!!

Sheri January 3, 2013 at 11:07 am


We have huge problems with rabbits and ground squirrels here in the high desert. They do alot of damage as well. Not sure that you can muster this up. But I live on a cattle ranch and we are replacing our old water troughs with tire troughs and I am using the old ones as gardens. The squirrels can’t get in them from beneath and they are old enough to where they have cracks so that the water can drain. Rabbits can’t bother them either. Just a thought if you could find something like that.

Jennifer Nelson, U of IL Extension Horticulture Educator January 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm

From your description and your picture it sounds like you have voles, not moles. Voles look a lot like field mice (with a shorter tail and smaller ears) and will tunnel above and below ground during the winter months eating plant material, particularly the roots and crowns of expensive perennials ๐Ÿ™‚ . Voles are particularly destructive during years where there is adequate snow cover. Moles are about the size of a large mouse and have large paddle-like front feet, and spend most of their life creating extensive underground tunnels and eat primarily earthworms and grubs, not plant material.

I’ve had decent luck controlling voles using mousetraps in the garden– though it’s not a very pleasant method.

Controlling moles is a totally different issue, and the only methods I’m aware of that are backed up by research is using either traps or poison earthworm-shaped baits in their main runs. Moles create a main ‘run’ that they use repeatedly, and single-use ‘feeder runs’. The main runs tend to be straight(ish), often following a structure. To determine which are the main runs, flatten the raised areas where moles are active, then wait 24 hours. The flat areas that are raised again are the main runs. The main runs are where traps and poison baits should be set.

Jennifer Griffith January 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm

We have had a lot of success with the Juicy Fruit. Just make sure you put at least 2 sticks of gum down deep in the mole hole. We have noticed that the mole hills will get worse before they get better (I figured it was the moles searching for the gum), but they eventually find the gum after a couple of days and are gone.

SKrogmeier January 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm

My dog attacks and kills those pests. I’m okay with disposing of the critters, instead of them eating my roots!

Pary Moppins January 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I have a very accommodating cat that has a particular fondness for moles. In fact, he and the dog have an understanding whereby the cat catches, plays with, and dispatches the mole then the dog removes the evidence (if I don’t get to it first). It’s a very successful system so far. ๐Ÿ™‚

Daisy January 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Pary Moppins–I once caught a mole, put it in a bucket, and presented it to one of our cats, everything but put a bow on it. He took one look and swanned off with his nose in the air. I ended up tossing the mole over the fence, whereupon I’m sure he simply burrowed back to the garden and continued where he left off.

Karen B January 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm

My mother-in-law has moles, so I was looking to see if there were things to help her and learned a very basic distinction. Moles and Gophers are different animals. Moles eat worms and bugs and I think they’re the ones that the gum is lethal to. Gophers, on the other hand, eat vegetation and do not try and go for worm-like items stuck in their holes. I think a lot of confusion on whether a remedy works or not has to do with the confusion of what animal you have burrowing in your yard.

Daisy January 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Jennifer Nelson, et al.–I see. So moles don’t eat plant material. I debated about whether this was moles or voles, since I know I have both. I see the voles’ tiny (often headless) carcasses on the driveway where they’ve been left by the cats. I didn’t realize they left such big tunnels as the one in the photo. I’ve seen moles burrowing in the veg beds, too, (actual eyes-on sightings) and seen their tunnels through the lawn. Maybe it’s a group effort??? Moles plow massive holes and voles come by and eat the roots? Or maybe voles make bigger tunnels than I thought. So now I’m open to more vole control suggestions! Where do I locate the mousetraps? Will I catch more curious cat paws than voles?

Melissa January 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Are you sure you don’t have gophers they make big holes and will actually pop their snarky little heads up and look around. I have only ever seen a mole at night time and he was quite confused looking and had a very distinctive face. Caddyshack was gophers by the way, lol. We have gophers and the only thing we have found that works is to trap them or put hardware cloth on the bottom of our garden boxes. The hardware cloth lasts about ten years better if it has the plastic coating.

Jennifer Nelson January 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm

I doubt the voles and moles are working together, but if you’re sure you have both in the area their paths may cross on occasion. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve had good luck using mousetraps positioned at the entrance to one of their holes. To prevent curious cat paws and other critters from injury, I put an upside down flower pot over the trap, propped up just enough for the vole to still find his way in. Plus your local cats sound like they’re doing a good job of controlling at least some of the problem.

Neza January 4, 2013 at 4:40 am

Surely it was a vole that ate the veg, but! unfortunately voles use mole’s tunnells too!
Moles are definitely only ”harmful” for making molehills and tunnells, otherwise not.
On the other side, voles are a real nuisance. They ate the roots of almost all our small fruit trees, so now we plant them in wire cages and mostly plant those they don’t like (raspberries, blackberries and such). Since they can also come to the plant roots from above ground, we now have ”vole patrol” in a form of five, yes FIVE cats, which are thriving (: almost without extra food.
Wishing you a very successful year 2013!

Daisy January 4, 2013 at 7:13 am

Jennifer Nelson–Aha. That sounds like it would work. I’ll get some mousetraps and rig them under flowerpots and hope for the best. I never thought those little pests were my main culprits. Thanks for the great advice!

Daisy January 4, 2013 at 7:19 am

Neza–I’m glad to hear they don’t like raspberry and blackberry roots. Thanks for the warning about fruit tree roots, too. We have 2 on our vole patrol (love that!), but they obviously need to step up their vigilance.

priscilla January 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

I have no idea if this will work for you, but we had an infestation of groundhogs we cleared with hav-a-heart traps and peaches. The relocation program lasted for quite a while.

Lisa Byrum January 4, 2013 at 9:01 am

I have moles/voles, whatever! They are tearing up the horse pastures, my veg. garden and even the ground all around the foundation of my house where shrubs are planted. My boxer catches and kills some of them (she plays with them until she is bored), the cat is too old to care. Ha I have a well and don’t want to use poison and contaminate the ground water plus I don’t want to accidently poison my animals. I have just given up trying to kill them. In the summer, it sure makes for a bumpy ride on the lawn mower! I just consider them part of my wildlife family along with the deer, turkeys, raccoons, possoms and everything else that think I plant things outside just for them to eat!

Blythe Barbo January 4, 2013 at 11:07 am

Moles and voles, both, have been devastating in my garden. I have seen an entire row of carrots disappear overnight, leaving a series of holes behind. I’ve seen a gorgeous tall rainbow chard be there one day, and the next, just a deep cavern surrounded by a row of wilted leaves, as in your photo (grrrr – voles!). Sometimes I think it’s not that they eat the roots, but that the roots get exposed to the air in the tunnels (mole problem), and so I have compacted the soil around the plant (after working so hard to get it fluffy) and have managed to save a few expensive plants that way. When you water individual plants, it only attracts worms, which, of course, attract the moles. Yes, the voles let the moles do the hard work for them and they share the underground network with a multitude of critters. On the pro side, the moles will eat a lot of bugs, and they both help aerate the soil and leave quite a bit of poop behind, which I have read is high in mycorrhizal fungi & nitrogen. My grandfather always swore by the Juicy Fruit method. I’ve also put empty wine bottles in the ground, neck down, to vibrate when the wind blows (mixed results), and I’ve been experimenting with plantings of garlic as a deterrent. My best method, by far, however, has been human urine. Yes. I pee in the hole or on the mound of dirt, depending on the critter. I also save my pee in jars & pour it around treasured plants (peeing outside, after all, is not an option for everyone or at all times). They definitely do not like it, and it adds nitrogen to the soil.

Portia McCracken January 5, 2013 at 7:58 am

Agree it sounds like voles, perhaps using mole tunnels to eat your plant roots, after the moles have gotten rid of the grubs in the garden soil. Here’s a site that might help: http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=453

albatross January 5, 2013 at 8:26 am

moles do not eat plant material. they can disrupt a plant if they inadvertantly dig through a root. generally having moles means that you have a healthy garden. they would not be there unless there were critters under the soild for them to eat. they can be very good for your garden. they aerate the soil and eat tons of grubs, cricket lavae, and other harmful insects which have underground larvae. just plant a few extra veg because they are usually doing more good than harm. if you are worried about the looks of a mole hill—collect the dirt from the hill and put in your compost pile. the mole hill dirt is usually full of minerals and well mixed/aerated. if you are losing a ton of plants, you might have gophers (which only eat plants).

Shopie January 5, 2013 at 8:42 am

Moles, voles, critters that destroy our gardens, and our food supply! OK, my method is not conventional, and you have to be home at different times, but I worked every imaginable scanario for 3 years before I saw much headway. Firstly, and most time consuming, I cooked up elbow macaroni, and put one rat poison pellet into each (tweezers), dropped one or two into each hole, marked the hole with a painted (fl. orange) “gum ball” from nearby trees. When the critter came along and ate the treat, the gumball was moved, opening the hole. I reapplied with another treat, until the gumball remained unmoved. That seemed to work for a year. This past summer, however, we were getting a crazy amount of tunnels. We got a fishing spear, a 5 pronged spear, which we ground off the barbs, and attached to a broom handle. We then monitored the tunnels. We stepped on them, and stood back, waiting. When a tunnel showed a sign of movement (the critter getting back to work) we speared the moving area of the tunnel. Whalah! We got the mole, which was bigger than I ever imagined, and disposed of it. 9:30 – 11:00 am was time of most activity. I am seeing activiity this winter along the pirimiter of the property, along the goat fence line, and wooded area, and I hope they go back into the woods come spring!

Shopie January 5, 2013 at 10:40 am

Moles can provide some benifit to your garden, but I have experienced my plants die off because the tunnels around the roots dry out the root system very quickly, here, where we get almost no rain in the summer months, and temps that hover around and over 100. We mulch heavily to retain moisture, which encourages worms, which attract the moles. I would advise to never use poision inteneded for moles (or anything else) on or near the vegetable garden, or where birds and other animals can inadvertently ingest them, either first or second hand.

Midwesterner January 6, 2013 at 11:16 am

Having battled these little beasts for a number of years I have found a pretty effective method to rid yourself of these foul critters. At least it worked for me. After having spent a small fortune on traps, poisons, bombs, & electrical devices that seemed to have little or no effect I did some research into just about every anti-mole repellent avaialble & I found they had a common ingredient, castor oil.
So I went to the store & bought a big bottle & went to work. I poured the castor oil into a cookie tray on a bunch of cotton balls & got them good & saturated. I then pushed the cotton balls into the tunnels & mounds & waited. Over night the moles pushed the cotton balls out of the tunnels & my yard looked like it had snowed in June. But I was determined & redid all the cotton balls & more but this time pushing them deeper & covering the holes with dirt.
Success, as I noticed no new tunnels or mounds. But be carefull as not to celebrate too quickly as I have discovered that mole infestations run in cycles, you see them for a few years & then they disappear for a few years. Mine were gone for about 4 years but suddenly this last fall they returned so I reapplied the castor oil but will have to wait until spring to see if I was sucessful.
Good Luck.

Debbie January 7, 2013 at 6:02 am

One thing that I didn’t see suggested here was blood meal. It’s sold in most garden centers (not sure if Wally World carries it), but it is exactly what the label says….blood. It spells out danger to all animals and they avoid those areas. It’s also an excellent nutrient source for your plants.

If this won’t work, you can do what I’ve done and that is to purchase those long sulphur sticks that look like dynomite and put those into the tunnels. We had a huge rat problem after a certain neighbor/hoarder moved out of her house and they took up residence right under my chicken coop. Their main den was under there, so I lit 2 and covered up the opening. When I walked out I saw puffs of yellow smoke coming up in all of my neighbors yards and the rat population nearly completely disappeared for a long, long time.

Also, I was told by an old-timer that a good frost sweetens your greens and keeps them from turning bitter. I live in North West Florida and love that we can have a garden year-round here, too.

Take care,


sweetsuthern January 7, 2013 at 9:17 am

we had the funny looking things too. what worked on my 2 acres was a windmill. they make a windmill that has rattling ball bearings in them. when the wind blows it vibrates down in the ground and the moles dont like it. it works. i need a new one actually….my windmill isnt rattling as good as it use too. you can get them at tractor supply places or coops….i dont see why you couldnt build one some how but havent spent any time on that…….hope this helps.

Pat Dhority January 7, 2013 at 11:12 am

I’ve had best results by taking an old-fashioned mousetrap, putting half a peanut in the holder, setting the loaded trap under a clay flower pot that has the drain holes covered (use duct tape), and placing pot over a hole where they have come up. I have caught as many as 30 in one season.

sweetsuthern January 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

i may have to try the peanut butter trick also. now…….does anybody know how to get rid of crawfish??? besides the obvious…….i bet if i could dam up my yard i could sell them by the basketfulls!!!!!

Shopie January 8, 2013 at 7:50 am

WOW! That is great results! Did you catch moles or voles? I didn’t think they ate peanuts! Or, perhaps you just got in their path?

George January 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm

What I have done in the past is put flares down the hole. (Flares will continue to burn once covered in the hole.) As smoke travels through and up and out of open holes, I fill them with dirt and PACK down so it is really dense.
Put down SEVERAL flare sticks and have enough dirt available to fill all the holes. The moles will die from smoke inhalation and your problem is solved. Works VERY WELL for me.

Erica January 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm

As far as voles, I have a wonderful hunting cat. There’s a dead one on my back walk at the moment. In fact, she’s even knocked off a baby rabbit from the local population. She’s been a great investment (she was free from a friend’s farm).

And my brother used to spear moles. We’d lay a piece of plywood on the ground and the moles liked to come up here, so every day after school we’d check it and stab the little critters with a pitchfork. Not very humane, but quite effective!

cathy January 8, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I have found that used cat litter will get rid of these critters, but it takes putting the used litter in every hole you find and not just today but keep at it. Its not a fast way but it will work. My yard was so bad before I did this that it would make me sick at my stomach to mow the yard from the rough ground.

Heidi January 10, 2013 at 3:25 am

My father had a job on a mink farm for a couple of years. He brought always some dung for the garden and digged it in. As long as he did that, there was no mole in sight. I suppose it is the smell of predators that is chasing them. So perhaps it will work also for other four legged pests. And if you live not to far from a zoo, possibly lion’s dung will work also…

Brian January 13, 2013 at 8:58 am

Daisy, it sound like you need a ‘real’ cat not one of the fake ones that hold down furniture all day. ๐Ÿ™‚ We have two useless indoor cats and two outdoor cats. The outdoor cats do a great job of catching mice, chipmunks, moles, and voles. We supplement their meals with raw chicken but they prefer the catch of the day.

Daisy January 13, 2013 at 9:08 am

Brian–If I could convince my spouse to stop feeding them three times a day it might make them a bit more interested in the wildlife around here. He’s a sucker for their “hungry” pleadings at the kitchen door. If there were cat Oscars they would be shoo-ins.

AmyInNH June 30, 2014 at 6:51 am

Milky spore. One application 10 years ago, still working! No cats, no gum, no chemicals needed.

Originally saw tunnels through the yard, most visible in spring, when light snow highlighted where the little tunnels through the yard collapsed during the winter. These critters are there to eat grubs, which are immature Japanese beetles in the soil. Milky spore is a grub disease. No grubs, no moles.

Daisy June 30, 2014 at 8:31 am

AmyInNH–Really! I’m excited, will have to look into this.

Buddy June 30, 2014 at 9:29 am

After many years of trying different things to get rid of moles & failing I did some research on all the commercial products that are sold. The MAIN ingredient in most of them was Eucalyptus oil. Sooooooo I went to the local drug store & bought a bottle along with a bag of cotton balls. I soaked the cotton balls in the oil on a cookie sheetfor awhile & then pushed them into all the tunnels & holes I found. Mole infestation is cycical as they are here for awhile then gone for awhile. But this method after just two applications worked for me & I still use it to this day. It also deters ground squirrels & voles.

Daisy June 30, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Buddy–Worth a try!

Paulette McWaters October 26, 2015 at 9:24 am

Not lethal and it works for a variety of garden pests…moth balls or moth flakes. It has worked for us on moles, voles, and we also use on back patio to discourage snakes. Good luck.

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