What to do about moles?
PUBLISHED: 08:11 28 March 2014 | UPDATED: 08:43 28 March 2014
Moles can cover lawns and fields with their heaps and, even worse, tunnel through fruit and veg beds where they uproot young plants and undermine paths. What can be done to solve the problem? Alan Beat explains
Some people tolerate the excavations of moles, others are driven to despair by them. Try to regard their activity as one way in which field topsoil is constantly recycled and replenished. Also try collecting molehill soil for home compost mixes, as there is no finer loam for the purpose.
However, mole activity in a garden is more problematic. Once seedlings are being heaved out of the soil to die, or paths disfigured by collapsing tunnels or soil heaps that defy mower or wheelbarrow, intervention is called for.
Folklore suggests asking them to “please go away” three times. Modern ideas include windmills or ultrasound devices which are claimed to be effective - by the manufacturer! These work for some people, some of the time, but none can be relied upon. This brings us, however reluctantly, to the traditional spring trap. These are humane in that the mole is usually killed instantly; they pose no danger to other wildlife, livestock or humans, and they are very effective in the right hands.
The best thing is to ask an old countryman to show you how to set the traps. Ignore molehills but search instead for the shallow feeding tunnels nearby that are patrolled regularly in search of earthworms. Dig a slot, slightly wider and deeper than the tunnel, to accommodate the trap centrally or it will simply be pushed aside. Lightly cover the hole you have made with turf to block the light, leaving just the trap handles showing. When these snap shut, you have caught your mole, and there is usually only one, no matter how much devastation is being caused.