Common pests

Moles

Moles are abundant throughout mainland Britain wherever there are suitable soils for tunnelling.

Facts about moles

Whilst mainly found in permanent grassland moles can be found in playing fields, parks, cemeteries, golf courses and private gardens. Moles are solitary animals living almost entirely underground in tunnel systems, which may cover areas of 400-2000 sq metres. They feed mainly on earthworms that fall into their tunnels but will also eat slugs and insect larvae. Moles are most active just after sunrise and again just before sunset and will rest between periods of activity for up to 3 hours. The breeding season lasts from February to June and there is usually only one litter a year. The young are born blind and without fur and they develop rapidly and leave the nest after 5 weeks.

How do they affect me?

The most obvious sign of the presence of moles is the appearance of mole hills on the surface, consisting of heaps of loose soil. If these are levelled and new hills appear within 2 to 3 days then this is an indication that moles are present and still active in that area. There are 2 types of tunnels: deep tunnels up to 20 cm below the surface, the soil from which is pushed onto the surface as mole hills: and surface runs where a ridge is formed on the surface.

Moles can cause damage to amenity and sporting grassland by producing mole hills, which makes the ground both uneven and unsightly. They can also spoil silage grass and may damage arable crops and gardens when they burrow under seedlings and plants resulting in wilting and death.

How to control them?

There are a number of methods available to control moles, including trapping and poisoning, repellent devices and killing the earthworms on which moles feed.
The repellent devices include sound emitters, upturned milk bottles; prickly vegetation laid in mole runs. None of these have been proven to be effective. The two main methods of control, trapping and poisoning rely on locating well-used runs and are strictly controlled by legislation and in the case of poisoning can only be carried out by specialist contractors  who have been issued with a permit by the Government.

There are several types of trap available but the two main types are based either on a scissors principle where the jaws are kept apart by a trigger or a half-barrel type where the mole is caught in a wire loop.

More about options for management and control of moles can be found on the Natural England website.