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Pest Control: Mice & Moles

Among the more destructive house and garden pests are mice and moles. There a number of ways to remedy their presence on your property. Unfortunately, however, none of the effective ones are very humane–they all involve killing the critters. If you’re not willing to share your home and garden with mice and moles, your best bet may be to call an exterminator. Ideally, a professional can help you set-up measures to help prevent allowing the pests to move in in the first place.

Here are some recommendations from Michigan State University Extension:

One “natural” method of poisoning mice that some people use is to place instant mashed potato powder or buds in strategic places with a dish of water close by. After eating the powder or buds, the mice need water. This causes fatal bloating.

Mouse traps may be more humane because they kill the mouse instantaneously– if they work right. Use according to label directions.

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Moles love to burrow through soft soil in search of insects and worms. Though they don’t actually eat bulbs and roots, they can damage a garden and lawn by their tunneling. The result is that they hack-off roots, dislodge grass and plants, and leave visible mole hills of soil and long, lumpy lines in lawns. Then again, if you don’t mind the natural look of mole hills, be aware that a mole can actually benefit the soil by opening it up, fertilizing it, and eating bugs and worms.

By the fact that you’re reading this, however, let’s assume that you want to get rid of the moles. What can you do?

First, be aware of what attracts them: wet, soft soil and worms. If you heavily water your lawn and your neighbor doesn’t, guess where the moles are going to go. Hmmm, look…this yard is nice and damp and full of worms!

And know what repels them. Hmmm, what is this wire netting buried under the ground? I guess I better turn around! There’s nothing like a 12-inch-wide swath of 1/2-by-1/2-inch galvanized wire cloth buried from 4 to 16 inches deep to change a mole’s mind.

Some companies make vibration and noise-emitting devices to drive-away moles. These are kind of a cool idea, but don’t count on them to actually work.

A variety of poisons are made for killing moles. Some are like peanuts, others like worms. They are expensive, somewhat hazardous to handle, and don’t necessarily work. They are intended to kill the mole and, if they do, you will probably have a dead-animal odor emitting somewhere from your lawn for a few days.

A “natural” poison for moles is castor oil and detergent. The idea is to whip together 1 tablespoon castor oil and 2 tablespoons liquid detergent in a blender until the mixture is like shaving cream. Add 6 tablespoons water and whip again. Keep the mixture out of the reach of your children and pets.

Take a garden sprinkling can and fill it with warm water. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil mixture and stir. Sprinkle immediately over the areas of greatest mole infestation. For best results, apply after a rain or thorough watering.

If moles are drawn to your lawn because of the grubs feeding in the soil, you may be able to rid yourself of both pests by spreading milky spore disease to kill the grubs.

Smoke fumigation is another method that some professionals use. With these, you saturate the soil with water, put smoke catridges into the mole holes every 8 to 10 feet, and then plug up the holes with wet newspaper wads. This method may not work, but is inexpensive enough to warrant a try.

Courtesy MSU Extension

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