Dear Angie: Moles have invaded my yard. What can I do? — Cynthia E., Beaverton, Ore.
Answer: You could take it as a compliment because moles like lawns with healthy, moist soil brimming with earthworms. But no doubt you'd rather get rid of these little earth movers.
Though moles weigh less than half a pound, are usually only about 6 inches long and see poorly, the burrows and mounds they create cause big problems for people who care about their property.
Moles tend to detach grass from its roots as they dig in search of grubs, worms, insect larvae and nesting material. Also, their tunnels and mounds can be unsightly and pose a safety hazard if someone were to trip over one.
Top-rated pest control pros tell our team that homeowners should be careful about putting out chemicals, especially if children or pets use the yard, and should be skeptical of devices that claim to scare off moles with vibrations.
They say trapping is the most effective mole removal method. They're most likely to tunnel near the surface in the spring and fall because they go deeper in summer, seeking moisture, and in winter, seeking warmth.
One pro said he places multiple traps so moles don't just escape to another section of yard. It takes two to four months to eliminate multiple moles, he says, and his practice is to check traps every week or two.
Service providers often charge separately for placing traps, from $50 to about $160, with an additional fee for each animal caught. Prices we've seen range from $35 to $79 per mole.
If you'd rather not trap moles, you could to make your yard less appealing to them:
Avoid overwatering. Moles prefer moist soil and often are attracted to land near a river or wetland.
Use rocks instead of wood mulch. Mulch helps retain moisture and, as it decomposes, attracts the insects and larvae moles love to eat.
Remove stumps, as they also attract insects and larvae as they decay.
Try a barrier, such as sheet metal, brick or wood, that sits both above the ground and at least 2 feet below, but moles probably will tunnel around it.
Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at firstname.lastname@example.org.