By Craig Riekena, Compliance Manager
Moles are one of the most annoying, yet least understood pests. The damage they do to an otherwise beautiful lawn, park or golf course can be maddening. What’s more, the better tended a turf is, the more likely it is to suffer from mole infestation. Healthier turf is reflective of richer soil, which means a buffet of grubs and worms for the mole. Be sure that you are ready to face the onslaught of questions about these terrors of the turf:
• Are moles blind? Moles are not technically blind, but their eyes are very simple and sense only light and dark shades.
• Are moles nocturnal? No, moles are awake, eating and tunneling around the clock. It is generally believed that they eat and sleep in four-hour shifts. When people and animals are around, usually during the day, moles will often cease moving as a protective mechanism.
• What do they eat? Moles are protein eaters. Their diet is almost entirely composed of grubs and earthworms.
• How much do they eat in a day? A mole consumes 75% to 100% of its body weight in a single day. Clearly, this requires an awful lot of digging.
• I never see moles in the winter. Do they hibernate? No, moles are active throughout the year. In places where it gets cold, they simply travel deeper into the ground, following their food as it migrates below the frost line.
• Will a grub killer eliminate their food and cause them to leave? While grub killers can reduce the food supply, about 75% of a mole’s diet is earthworms. Earthworms are considered to be a beneficial species, so poisons for them are prohibited.
• But if they like worms and grubs, why are they eating grass and flowers? Moles are constantly digging and moving, looking for food. Grass and flower roots just happen to be in the way and are being killed by root destruction. If “moles” are actually eating grass and flower roots, then they are not moles!
• I see so much damage; there must be a dozen moles at this account! A single mole can create up to 100 ft. of new runway in a single day, so an infestation can appear much greater than it really is. A typical yard will have no more than two or three moles. Moles are also solitary creatures, so all of the damage created in a single area is typically caused by just one mole.
• Solitary? But…? The exception is in the mating season, which is typically in February or March. The pups are born in March or April (four to six weeks’ gestation), and weaned in April or May. It is in these spring months that activity generally increases, as young moles spread out to find new habitats.