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DIG THIS | Moles are tunneling for love

Moles are tunneling all over Kitsap County. Lawns are especially vulnerable. Master Gardeners from all over county have been reporting moles tunneling here and there. So, what’s a gardener to do? The answer: not much. For what it’s worth here are a few tips and techniques to try, plus several websites with very good information to peruse.

Moles are digging up mole hills and tunnels this time of year because they’re out looking for mates. It’s an amorous pursuit for these somewhat cute but shy creatures. Mole mating season burrows from February to early March. Soon they’ll be having their families estimated at 2.9 pups per litter — not sure what .9 of a mole looks like.

In several weeks (about mid April) the parents kick the pups out of the den and these juvenile moles travel anywhere from 14 to 925 yards away to their own new homes, meaning more tunneling and mounding. But if you live near a forest, they’ll head that way and live happily ever after.

Dave Pehling, mammal and mole expert for WSU Extension’s Snohomish County office says the best way to eliminate mole problems is to trap them. However, Washington State’s I-713 made some traps illegal. But moles can still be trapped alive. Visit snohomish.wsu.edu/newsletters/moles/molegazette3.htm, this issue of Pehling’s news illustrates, literally, the various kinds of traps you can purchase or buy to control moles.

Pehling’s newsletter at snohomish.wsu.edu/newsletters/moles/molegazette2.htm discusses baits and other methods of controlling moles that do not work. Moles eat worms and insects and are not attracted to gum or other concoctions, contrary to popular folklore.

WSU’s publication EB1028, also written by Pehling, describes our moles, shows a great photo of what the mole looks like and gives abundant information on how to control them in home gardens. Visit cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/eb1028/eb1028.html to read and download the publication. If you do not have internet access, call (360) 337-7157 to order a copy.

Most moles in our gardens are Townsend’s moles. They are the largest of the moles. Lucky us. But large means 8-9 inches, which is actually not that large compared to raccoons and other critters sometimes found marauding in and pillaging our gardens. Pehling says mole tunnels can be anywhere from 6 inches to 20 inches deep. Moles eat about 40 pounds of insects and worms annually.

They enjoy moist soil because it’s easier to tunnel and find insects and worms to devour. Pehling also says “moles eject up to 2 gallons of soil through a lateral tunnel to the surface.” Quite impressive - 2 gallons.

Pehling admits he has moles sharing his yard. He has studied them through the years. Moles do not hibernate and if you have some in your garden, they may hang around for their entire life. Just flatten their tunnels down or fill in with the 2 gallons of ejected soil. Moles are nature’s aerators and rototillers. That’s a way to look on the bright side of things. Another positive thing to tell yourself, if you have moles tunneling it’s usually because your soil is healthy and full of worms and good insects.

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