This is the time of year I receive phone calls about moles causing problems. Over the past 27 years, few critters can stir such emotion as these little animals. When I started in Extension 27 years ago, the solution was fairly simple: put down an insecticide, kill the food source, and the moles would move away (maybe to your neighbors) to find a new food source. The problem was that the insecticide would kill all the insects, good and bad. The moles favorite food is grubs, but the most common food is earthworms. The older generation insecticides would kill both. Newer generation lawn insecticides are much safer to the environment and many are insect growth regulators targeted to work on grubs only and leave the earthworms alone.
If you are trying to control moles, these newer insecticides will not encourage moles to move away as well, but they are still very effective in controlling grubs which can damage lawns. So what can we do? When it comes to “home remedies”, the ones I have heard of simply will not work. I have heard of putting chewing gum or laxatives in the holes but we need to keep in mind that moles are carnivores and only feed on insects, so these will not work. I suppose some other remedies that I have heard could work somewhat as they could act as a repellent.
When these remedies are tried and in a period of time, the moles go away; was it the remedy or was it the weather? Right now the weather is warming up and the ground is saturated, so the moles are moving up near the surface. When it gets hot and drier, they will probably move down into the soil and I doubt if we will see much damage. In the fall, it will cool down, the ground will get wet and they will move back up, then when winter sets in, they will go back down deep. My “guess” is that it is probably the weather.
So what can we do? I see two options. First, don’t worry about it and they will go away in a month or so. Or if you do want to do something, there are traps that can be used. If you can find an active runway (the tunnel under the soil) and set the trap in, you should catch moles. Generally, the most active runway is one that goes from the nest to the feeding areas. The nest will usually be around the edge of the lawn, maybe in a grassy meadow or some woods with cover over the soil. In my old lawn, the nest was between the sidewalk and the wood house, where my wife had a flower bed. The runway would go under the sidewalk, then branch off where the moles would feed. If a trap could be set between the nesting area and where the runway branched off for feeding, that would be an excellent location for a trap. Just check it every day, and if you have not caught a mole, consider a new location. In my lawn, it wasn’t the moles that caused the most damage, it was my Golden Retriever trying to catch the mole and was always six inches behind!