Whack the moles: Is there a sure-fire way to get rid of them?
Dan Bates / The Herald
Dave Pehling, of the Washington State University Extension at McCollum Park in Everett, holds a Townsend's mole that he suspects died of natural causes. He is keeping the mole refrigerated until he conducts an autopsy.
Dan Bates / The Herald
Dave Pehling, of Washington State University (WSU) Extension at McCollum Park in Everett, uses a device to open one of the popular steel traps that were made illegal for controlling the mole population.
Dan Bates / The Herald
Dave Pehling has a suitcase full of mole traps. While some are not legal to use, others are. However, not all prove effective.
These dastardly demons can do some serious damage.
All those hours primping the lawn to make it pristine are undone by a tiny vermin that tunnels below leaving hideous hills above.
What's a mere human to do?
Well, you can Google “how to get rid of moles” and read the 1.2 million results that pop up.
Or, you can ask around.
Seems everybody has an anti-mole tactic.
Herald readers offered up a range of remedies: Smoke bombs. Dirty cat litter. Cats. Juicy Fruit gum. Guns. Castor oil. Onions. Peanut butter and d-Con. Male urine. Barry Manilow.
“Place a transistor radio atop the hole playing Barry Manilow music non-stop for days, drives them crazy,” one wrote.
Another offered up a recipe of liquid soap, ammonia and a nicotine tea created by soaking a can of snuff in the toe of an old pair of panty hose.
Many readers had tried store products: repellents, baits, spikes, poisons and traps. That is, if you can catch the little buggers.
“All's fair in the mole wars!” wrote a reader who swears by Molecat, a triggered device that kills moles instantly with a percussive fatal blast to the skull.
It's illegal to kill a mole in a body-gripping trap in Washington, but you can shoot, shock, drug, drown or whack 'em dead with a shovel.
Dave Pehling has studied moles for 36 years as a WSU Snohomish County Extension agent, so you'd think he'd have the definitive answer.
He did, but it's against the law now. He recommended mole traps until the state ban in 2000. “There's nothing else that seems to work consistently,” he said.
Using a body-gripping trap is a gross misdemeanor punishable with jail time and/or fine, if enforced.
“The one method that works really well is pounding down the hills and then sitting out in your yard with 12-gauge shotgun,” Pehling said.
You might want to check if it's allowed in your town before trying it, though.
Pehling has a collection of about every mole mauler imaginable.
He said the Molecat holds promise. The barrel firing unit and 10 extermination cartridges is about $100. “Treat it like a loaded gun,” he said.
Toxins might do the trick. “Some people have luck with baits,” he said. “But we have no data to back it up. These are dangerous to your pet, too.”
As much as you might hate them, moles do good. “They poop and pee underground, mix up the soil and are a marginal food source for hawks and owls,” Pehling said.
Consider their visit a compliment on your yard care. “They like well-watered lawns with nice rich soil and lush vegetation,” he said.
Moles aren't there to torment you. Really. They're there for dinner. It's all about food. A mole's gotta eat and tunnels are feeding runways for their insatiable appetite for worms and grubs.
Reduce their food source, said Rick Seymour, garden associate at Everett Home Depot, where bags of ready-to-use grub killer are in the death-to-moles section.
“Make it so there's nothing to eat,” Seymour said.
He said customers can't agree on what mole extermination method works best or worst.
“They'll say this doesn't work worth beans and another will come say this works great,” Seymour said. “And then the next person will say it doesn't work. Lot of times I've heard when you repel them they just move to a different spot in your yard.”
Or your neighbors.
Either moles are digging what the earth's serving up at Liz Donadio's house in Mukilteo or the word is out in mole circles about her neighbor's lethal method.
“He was doing the extreme and I think they are all coming here,” she said.
About 20 mounds have appeared in the area where her little dog, Casper, does his business. So much for the urine repellent remedy.
“We are coexisting right now,” Donadio said. “I'm an animal lover. I can't be cruel. I'll get rid of them in a more humane way.”
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
Readers weigh in
We asked HeraldNet readers to comment on the site or our Facebook page with their best ways to get rid of moles. Here are some of our favorite responses:
I have five feet of heater hose from auto parts store. One end in the hole. The other end on the tip of my lawn mower exhaust pipe. Simple, cheap and effective! — Darren Phillips
A generous sprinkling of a fresh chopped onion has worked many times. Otherwise, I place a transistor radio atop the hole playing Barry Manilow music non-stop for days, drives them crazy. — John Mashburn
Obtain a dozen or so bottles of various sizes and fill them with random amounts of water. Bury them in the yard up to their neck. As the wind blows over the bottles, many different tones will be produced. The moles will think their dead ancestors have returned to haunt them and they will leave. On windless days you may need to use a fan. — Dean Smith
I have tried most of the products being sold to get rid of moles and none are very effective. When my daughter came to live with us she brought her cat. The cat has killed four moles in one week. — Ray Scudder
We have had success with pouring cheap ol' vegetable oil down their active hole. Pour it in, cover it up. We were told they don't like to be dirty. The oil makes dirt stick to them. — Kim Muck
I keep a one-gallon plastic jug with a lid filled with water and put in about 1/4 cup of crushed red chili flakes. When I see a hole I pour in a couple of cups. I used to have moles. They used to like my backyard because of a veggie garden that has big fat worms. Lately not so much. — Ric Rosales
Open up the hole. Pour in dirty kitty litter. Cover hole. Not perfect, but works pretty good. — Marie Marcyes
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