Though moles spend most of their time underground, the damage they cause above ground is all too visible. Meandering paths of upheaved soil are evidence of the small mammals foraging for food. Some tunnels may be abandoned soon after being built, while others are travel lanes and used for a longer period of time. Even though moles do not feed on plant matter, they can still cause damage by disturbing roots and uprooting small plants.
Numerous home remedies have been concocted to control moles including chewing gum, noisemakers, broken glass, bleaches, windmills and human hair. None have been found to provide consistent and reliable control. Poison baits also fail to work because moles feed on earthworms and grubs, not vegetable matter. Even grub control products are ineffective as they do not control earthworms, and earthworms are the primary food source for moles.
The best control method is the use of traps. There are three types of traps (harpoon, choker and scissor-jawed), and each can be effective but may take some time to master. Try the following suggestions.
Moles use some tunnels more than others. Use a broomstick or something similar to poke holes in a number of runs. Check a day later to see which runs have been “repaired.” These are the active runs and should be used for trap placement.
Place a trap in an active run by excavating soil, placing the trap and then replacing loose soil. Secure the trap so that the recoil will not lift the trap out of the ground. Make sure the triggering mechanism is in the center of the run.
Finally, push down two more holes, one on each side of the trap. Moles should be caught when they try to repair the tunnel. Move traps if no moles are caught within three days.
Preventing fruit on crabapples
Though many gardeners enjoy the brightly colored fruit produced by some crabapple trees, others find the fruit messy and would like to prevent them from forming. Fortunately, there is an easy way to accomplish this.
Sevin (carbaryl) is an insecticide that not only controls insects but can cause apples and crabapples to drop while still small. Check the label for this use. Not all Sevin labels mention thinning on the label.
Sevin should be applied soon after the blossoms have dried on the trees. Do not apply Sevin during bloom because it is extremely toxic to bees. Spray the trees thoroughly with two tablespoons of liquid Sevin per gallon of water. Stems on the fruit should turn yellow and wrinkle, and the tiny apples should start to drop in seven to 10 days. If drop hasn’t started in two weeks, a second application may be needed.
Sevin remains effective for about 35 days after full bloom, though the fruit will become more difficult to remove as it increases in size. Note that Sevin is specific for apples and crabapples and will not prevent fruit formation on other trees.
Matt Young47 Posts
Matt Young is the Brown County Extension District director, as well as an agent in the area of agriculture and natural resources.