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How to get rid of Moles/Voles in my Garden ???

May 15, 2005

Help !!! They are driving me nuts. I want some of my garden for all my hard work. We have them elsewhere and gophers too. But the moles in my garden are taking more than there fair share. Especially my potatoes. Now moving on to other goodies. Depressing.

And - Where are all my worms this year ???

Comments (137)

  • slipperypencil

    The castor oil worked great for getting rid of moles in my lawn. The stuff should be sprayed on the ground not on the garden plants. There's no reason it should end up all over the garden. Spray on the ground and water it in. You won't even notice that it's there.

    A quart of castor oil costs about $15 at the health food store or Amazon. I used a sprayer that attached to the hose. Easy to apply, not expensive.

  • GrahamBuck

    I take your point about mole poison products not being suitable for anyone wanting to keep things organic.

    Has anyone here tried any of the mole deterrent products out there? I think most of them give out low frequency sounds, but I don't really know how effective they are...

  • nightwatcher

    I didn't get a chance to read all of the comments but I have been fighting the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) for years. There is a lot of false information on the internet and also false remedies. Here is what I have learned about the eastern mole from my years of trapping them for about 35 years.

    Mole and Gopher bait will not work and neither will castor oil that I have bought by the gallons. Windmills and "sound" devices do not work. Moles love earthworms, I would say that 95% of their diet are earthworms. I have plastic mesh barriers buried only 12" deep which control any moles coming to my yard via the surface feeding tunnels from the neighbors.

    If you see hills or mounds of dirt, it means the moles are starting a colony with deeper tunnels and chambers. You don't want colonies of moles having young. I have used a water hose and filled up the underground tunnels and chambers with the mounds of dirt. Sometimes the moles drown and sometimes not. Moles do not need much oxygen. They can hold their breath a long time and will resurface in a few minutes.

    One mole can do a lot of damage over a wide area. You might think that you have several moles when only one is doing all of the damage.

    I like the Victor spear type traps the best. I put at least 2 traps close to each other about a foot away in the shallow feeding tunnels. I dig down and set the spear traps into the deeper tunnels. Use a sharp knife and cut through the grass sod when you make a depression for the spear trap. Using your foot will cause the trap to trip before the mole reaches it. Use a knife and set 2 traps close together.

    I collapse all surface tunnels with a jet of water or a tamping bar and check back later. When I see a mole working in its tunnel, I collapse the tunnels at two ends to ensure the mole does not escape and use a spading fork where the mole is and lift the sod and kill the mole.

    I also dispose of the contents of my cats litter box into tunnels of moles coming from the field and into buried trenches using a 3" wide trench shovel and cover with dirt. The best mole deterrent that I have used so far. I will post more later or answer questions if anyone is interested.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Eastern Mole

  • nightwatcher

    I forgot to mention that my soil is sandy. Where I previously lived, I had hard clay soil and never saw a mole. I found another good web site about moles that I want to share.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Controlling the Eastern Mole

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    Holy crap, is this what this this forum has come to under the new management???? A thread on moles and voles is turned into a spam about Herpes?

  • grubby_AZ Tucson Z9

    Chill, oh excitable one. To report spam, just click on the spam comment's little flag on its top right corner and someone will take care of it.

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    Hahaha. Yah, not freeking but when this forum was on Garden Web, I really cannot remember a spam job such as that one.

  • terrie8298

    Thanks GrahamBuck (8b) the comparison chart was quite helpful. Used the baitworms and the moles are gone.

  • betcsbirds

    Totally ridiculous advice about feeding grits to voles or moles to kill them. First of all, moles simply won't eat grits..they are carnivores. Rodents just chew them up like any other grain, and they don't expand in their stomachs and burst! What an old wives tale! Same concept that used to circulate about throwing rice at weddings and having it kill birds who ate it off of sidewalks...simply UNTRUE. Come on people, let's recommend real proven techniques and not throw out all this mythology!

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    What about throwing alka seltzer to hovering sea gulls? Will they eat it and will it expand in their stomachs and kill them?

  • david52 Zone 6

    I flood them out using copious amounts of water.

  • kimmq

    Moles have survived eons of flooding of their tunnels and lairs, what makes you think it will work if you use your garden hose?

    kimmq is kimmsr

  • PRO
    Design Center of SI

    Mothballs are toxic. When you smell them you are inhaling insecticide.

  • kimmq

    The active ingredients in mothballs are all known carcinogens and should not be placed where humans can breath the vapors from them.

    kimmq is kimmsr

  • elisa_z5

    Can't remember if this thread has anything about those vibration things that you bury (battery operated) that the varmints don't like the sound/vibration and go elsewhere. My neighbor recommended them and they worked for me this year.

  • kimmq

    Every good reliable study I have seen about the vibrators is they do not work. Your mole probably just up and left as they often do for no apparent reason.

    The only people that will tell you the vibrators work are those that sell them.

    kimmq2 is kimmsr

  • Beckie Harrison

    I tried everything known to man. I ended up putting moth balls down every single hole. Everyday. In one short week they are gone. I tried for two months everything else. Every hole. Every time. Every day. I do not grow veggies. Only flowers or I wouldn't do it. I have a separate bed for veggies thasts contained. I had to. They destroyed my entire yard. It was amazing the damage.

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    So, putting moth balls in their runs caused them to leave your yard altogether?

  • slipperypencil

    The toxicity of the mothballs either kills them, kills the insects they eat so they leave to find food, or the stench runs them off.

    Since this is an organic gardening board, I'll point out that mothballs are not only a far cry from organic, dumping them into your ground will poison your land. If you're not desperate enough to take a "burn it all down" approach, you probably want to avoid mothballs.

  • theforgottenone1013 (SE MI zone 5b/6a)

    Wow. Putting mothballs down every hole every day. What a hazardous way to get rid of a critter. Not only are you poisoning your soil but you risk poisoning groundwater as well.

    FWIW, I've had a mole tunneling in my yard for three years. I've found it to be a minor nuisance at worst. If it makes a tunnel next to some desirable plants I just walk along the tunnel compressing it back down.


  • kimmq

    The active ingredient in moth balls is a known human carcinogen and the only acceptable, legal, method of use of moth balls is in an enclosed environment, a tightly sealed bag that limits the exposure of humans to the gasses that are emitted. Any other use is prohibited by federal law.

    Using moth balls as a pest deterrent is not an acceptable organic grower practice.

    kimmq is kimmsr

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    5 years and $50,000 dollar fine for sticking one in a hole in the ground.


  • nightwatcher

    I have been trapping the eastern mole for well over 35 years. Moles are carnivorous and their main diet is earthworms. Mole bait meant for gophers does not work. Full strength castor oil does not work. Save your money. Some cheap traps work better than more expensive traps. Barriers down to only 12 inches work along with traps. Used cat litter in trenches works. Noise makers do not work. Save your money and don't spend on things that are worthless against moles. Too much garbage on the internet posted by people who often repeat things posted on the internet that do not work.

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    Personally, I am buying a pack of moth balls.

  • nightwatcher

    I have never tried mothballs but they could be effective as a deterrent in the surface feeder tunnels and maybe also in the deeper permanent tunnels and chambers. I thought about ammonia soaked cotton balls stuffed into the tunnels but never tried it. If you see those mole hills, you have deeper permanent tunnels and possibly nesting chambers. I don't have a mole problem now. One year, I killed well over 30. If you see an active surface tunnel, flatten the tunnels and watch for activities. I would flush out moles with a garden hose by flooding sections of the surface tunnels. The moles would stick their noses up through the tunnels to breathe and I would use a spading fork to get them out and whack them. I have drowned some moles by flooding their underground deeper tunnels and chambers but it takes a lot of water. Moles can survive with very little oxygen. I have read that moles can survive with just 7% oxygen levels due to their unique hemoglobin.


  • jolj

    Moles are not the same as voles. Voles are rats or small field mice. The true voles can not live in some of the places that mice do.

    You have to remove their homes, like with snails, pile of leaves,straw, compost piles, rotten logs, brush pile,tool sheds, back porch or gazebo.

    This is the places that you should put out organic poisons, also.

  • kimmq

    nightwatcher, using mothballs as you suggest is not an organically acceptable solution since mothballs are a known carcinogen, something that causes cancer. The product label will also tell you that it is a violation of federal law to use the product in this way since I is not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration, or any other federal or state agency.

    Flooding the tunnels of moles will not do much since they have not survived all these eons without learning how to keep their homes from getting flooded. If you have had some success with killing the wee buggers after flooding it was by mere happenstance.

    kimmq is kimmsr

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    I understand your explanation on the moth balls, but if it works, I'm in.

  • kimmq

    People using mothballs for that purpose are not organic in any sense.

    kimmq is kimmsr

  • jolj

    I do not have a dog in this fight, but.....

    In addition to repelling or killing insects such as moths and silverfish, mothballs have been suggested for use as a stovepipe cleaner, a snake repellent, and to keep away mice or other pests.[2] However, mothballs are ineffective as snake repellents[3] or as rodent repellents.[4]

    Mothballs used as an animal repellent or poison can be a cause for major concern. Unprotected mothballs in a garden or living space may be consumed by unintended victims such as children, pets, or beneficial animals. Mothballs have an attractive sweet odor and taste but are highly toxic when ingested,[5] and may cause serious illness or death.[6]Also, large quantities of mothballs in a basement or a living space may cause serious respiratory problems for residents.[7]

    Mothballs have been promoted as a squirrel repellent, and are an ingredient in some commercial repellent products. They are generally ineffective, and are not a substitute for physical measures to exclude squirrels from building interiors.[8][9]

    Older-formula mothballs have also been used by drag racers to enhance the octane rating of fuel by dissolving the mothballs in some of the fuel and filtering out the remains with a filter paper. In the MythBusters episode "Scuba Diver, Car Capers", it was shown to be "plausible" that adding mothballs to a car's fuel tank would increase its horsepower.

    Health risks[edit]

    The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that 1,4-dichlorobenzene "may reasonably be anticipated to be a carcinogen". This has been indicated by animal studies, although a full-scale human study has not been done.[10] The National Toxicology Program (NTP), the International Agency for Research on Cancer(IARC) and the State of California consider 1,4-dichlorobenzene a carcinogen.[11]

    Exposure to naphthalene mothballs can cause acute hemolysis (anemia) in people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.[12] IARC classifies naphthalene as possibly carcinogenic to humans and animals (see also Group 2B).[13] IARC points out that acute exposure causes cataracts in humans, rats, rabbits, and mice. Chronic exposure to naphthalene vapors is reported to als

  • flaminame

    I've tried a mixture of water, castor oil, cayenne and dish soap. I believe I still have voles. I have a decent amount of snow on yard and it's been very cold. I did just dump some corn gluten on a recent dirt volcano I saw before last snow and I sprinkled catnip all around to attract every and all feline beasts.....we'll see. Can I buy an owl off of amazon? Free shipping with prime!

  • kimmq

    Studies at Michigan State University found that Castor Oil, properly applied, would cause moles to move out of the area, not because of any odor associated with it but because it could cause the moles food to be unpalatable. The commercially available Castor Oil sprays do not have enough oil in them to be effective and are meant to be sprayed over too large an area.

    The formula the people at MSU came up with was 1 pint of castor oil mixed into 1 quart of water and sprayed over 1,000 square feet, a quite expensive solution.

    Neither moles nor voles, two different critters, hibernate. They are active all winter although moles will seldom be seen because their food sources go deep in the ground. Voles, however, will be seen above ground and often are responsible for chewing the bark of small trees and shrubs. You will often see vole trails as snow melts.

    kimmq is kimmsr

  • enchantedrosez5bma

    Very interesting thread. The snow is finally gone from my rose garden bed and several of my roses' roots are completely gone from, I assume voles, since all were healthy before winter hit. Now there is just a chewed off stem. I have read that Epsoma Soil Protector could work since the voles don't like digging through sharp objects. I tried hardware cloth but this eventually does rust and is very difficult for my arthritic fingers.

    So, has anyone tried the Epsoma or rough ground oyster shells.? I thought of even using broken glass in the holes but don't want to slice up the earthworms.



  • nightmart

    my garden and lawn are under vole attack, they have been here for a few years but it never appeared to ne what the tunnels were, i thought they were chipmunks, but no i actually have seen the voles themselves, also most of my echinacea is gone and i heard they love them, so i have ordered mole/vole repellent based on castor oil will see if it works

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    Good luck. Let us know how it works out for you.

  • jj6880

    My vegetable garden is being eaten by voles. I do not want to trap or poison as I am gardening organically. Don't want to use the castor oil as I think that might be absorbed into the roots of the veggies.

    I was thinking about trying the snake poo mentioned in one of the earlier posts IF I can get it from the pet store. But I also thought a free and easily accessible item to try - yucky as it is - the human urine. Has anyone tried that? And is it safe to use human urine in the veggie garden?

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    I pee on my wife's tomatoes all the time. Damn things crowd out my hot peppers still.

    The tomatoes sure make good BLT's though.

  • jj6880

    So does it repel the voles?

    Turns out there is a whole website on using human urine for fertilizer. It is the "Rich Earth Institute". WOW, I am going to have to figure out a convenient collection method and start using the stuff. If it gets rid of the voles AND provides needed nutrients to the garden, why not?! Yucky as it is...

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    Well, I know too much urine in concentrations will kill plants....ever see a yard where a dog pees in one area all the time? But, it seems like a very sound strategy since most animals hate humans and urine is the way animals mark territory.

    Just use it sparingly. Most animals (dogs for example) have very sensitive smell senses, so it wont' take much. An ounce here and an ounce there or maybe dilute it with water and sprinkle it over the entire area.

  • jj6880

    Ok, thanks for the info. I will give it a try and report back! So excited there may be a solution!

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    Damn things at all my watermelons last year. They would tunnel up from underneath and eat the insides out completely, leaving a shell. I wouldn't even realize they were eaten until they started softening a few days later and then I would turn them over and see the hole in the bottom.

    No Vole food (watermelons) this year, but if I see them again in my mulch, I will probably make some after dark forays to the garden, errrr, I mean bathroom.

  • jj6880

    Watermelons! I never would have thought they could bother those. I am surprised they aren't eating your wife's tomatoes. Maybe the hot peppers being next to the tomatoes is deterring them. I did try making a garlic and hot pepper solution that I sprayed on the onions and soil. I think it worked for a day or two, but after that the voles were back at the onions.

    They are eating my onions, potatoes, and asparagus. I expect they will get into the sweet potatoes too. I never expected anything to want to eat the onions, that one surprised me!

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    If they would ever show themselves, I would love to take on the challenge of shooting them.

    I am not an animal hater by any means, but like mosquitos, if they don't bother me, I don't bother them. If they do bother me, I LOVE to bother them.

  • jj6880

    Here is a link to an article on using human urine as fertilizer.


  • jj6880

    oh, they are really cute. I have see them in the winter just sitting outside my front door munching on the grass.

  • nightmart

    I dont think castor oil would get into the root and i d rather do that than having tje urine getting into stuff if u think in same categories, i still havnt applied the repellent gotta get on it

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    How many of us have spread Cow Manure in our gardens? The farmers do it all the time. And if you don't think that stuff isn't mixed with a healthy dose of cow urine, then you might want to quit eating soybeans and corn.

  • jj6880

    Nightmart, my concern about the castor oil is that if it is in the soil, it could be absorbed into the root. Also, I believe I read that castor oil is toxic to ingest. That is why I don't want to use it in the vegetable garden.

  • jolj

    We had caster oil & caster beans.

    It can not get into the vegetable though the soil, it is organic & rots like any other poisonous weed. We are not talking about gasoline which is toxic.

    Tomatoes plant are poisonous, but not Toxic.

  • esox07 (4b) Wisconsin

    I just camp out and shoot them with my 12 gauge shotgun. I use steel shot to protect the environment and the blast makes a perfect size hole in the ground to plant a Daisy. The obliterated vole/mole serves as excellent fertilizer for the new daisy. It kind of sux having to mow around all the daisies in my yard now.

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