sealPurdue Lifestyles Briefs

May 1998

Expert: Get rid of moles now with know-how

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Spring is the best time to eradicate moles, but many common home remedies don't work and may be hazardous, a Purdue University expert says.

Judy Loven, Indiana state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Damage Control Program stationed at Purdue, says: "Now is a good time of year to deal with moles. They are mating and breeding, which means that the males are roaming out and about."

She says that using traps to kill them is still the most reliable method for getting rid of the critters. Make sure you use well-functioning traps and set them on the main paths of the mole. "You can locate surface main runways by flattening down a small section of the runway," Loven says. "The runs that are repaired by the mole within a day or two are the main runways."

For those who would rather not kill moles in their yard, the small animals can be safely captured and relocated to a woody or weedy area, Loven says.

Although many other methods advertise that they work, their usefulness -- or uselessness -- becomes apparent once homeowners educate themselves about what moles are and how they live.

Moles are carnivores and they don't eat grain, so plant- and grain-based poisons that work on groundhogs aren't going to work for moles, Loven says. Fumigation doesn't work on moles, either. "Unlike groundhog's burrows, which are short and finite, moles create a seemingly endless grid of tunnels," Loven says. "There isn't enough fumigant in the world to get rid of moles."

Among the products and remedies to avoid:

  • Ultrasonic transmitters: These send out sound waves that are supposed to nauseate the moles and make them move away. "It's a nice idea. They don't work at all, but I wish they did," Loven says.

  • Chewing gum: A home remedy is to chew some gum and place the wad in the mole's tunnel. The idea is that the mole will eat it, not be able to digest the gum, and die. It's a waste of time and gum, Loven says. "First, none of their food smells or tastes like gum, so they aren't going to eat it," she says. "Second, insects are made up of some of the most indigestible substances known. If they can digest insect parts, they wouldn't have any trouble digesting bubble gum."

  • Whirligig daisies: "Those are cute, aren't they?," Loven says. "The moles are supposed to not like the vibrations and leave the area. But I've seen moles living alongside interstate highways. I have seen moles living in the medians between airport runways. Vibrations don't seem to bother them."

  • Mothballs : Perhaps the best-known of the folk remedies, mothballs may also be illegal. What many people don't realize is that mothballs are an insecticide that has its use regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. "The active ingredients are very volatile and evaporate in a short time -- a matter of minutes or hours at the most," Loven says. "Plus, the chemicals used in them are carcinogenic. We don't want them out and about where they can do damage to the environment or get into the ground water. You certainly don't want to use them where there are kids or pets."

CONTACT: Judy Loven, (765) 494-6229

Purdue to field only student team
in national air race

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A student team from Purdue University is headed to the Air Race Classic for the fifth year in a row as the only all-student collegiate entry.

The annual Air Race Classic is a summer cross-country race for female pilots. The three-day event takes teams of two across mountains and plains to test their skill at piloting. During the course of the race, the teams will travel more than 2,384 miles.

This year's race will start June 23 in Santa Fe, N.M., and end June 26 in Batavia, Ohio, with stops for refueling in Midland, Texas, Woodward, Okla., Ogallala, Neb., St. Joseph, Mo., Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Rome, Ga.

Two years ago, a Purdue team became the first collegiate team to win the race. For all four years that Purdue teams have participated, they have been the only all-student collegiate entry.

This year, the pilot for Purdue will be Amanda Zerr, a senior majoring in aviation technology from Defiance, Mo. "There is a responsibility involved with being the pilot for this race," she said. "Besides flying, we have to be concerned with the weather and plane safety. I think this year we will do well. We have been training religiously and have made a lot of progress."

Along with the experience gained, there is also some danger involved. "It can be dangerous if they run into bad weather," said Mary Ann Eiff, assistant professor of aviation technology and faculty adviser to Purdue's chapter of Women in Aviation which sponsors the team. "They will also have to fly through mountainous regions, and there can be wind problems associated with this type of geologic feature. This gives them a chance to learn how to fly in these areas, and it helps them gain confidence. With the level of training these pilots receive, they should be able to handle anything nature throws at them."

Originally called the "Powder Puff Derby," the contest dates back 79 years. Amelia Earhart competed in it, as did many women who were WASPs in World War II.

Teams fly only during daylight hours and good weather. They race against a "handicap" assigned to their plane based on its maximum cruising speed. The goal is to be faster than the handicap, and the winner is the team that beats its handicap by the largest margin.

Raegan Frazier, co-pilot and a sophomore majoring in aviation technology from Cape Cod, Mass. , said she is excited about the race. "We are really nervous because we are a young team. Most of the pilots are much older and have had long careers in commercial aviation. To compete against older and more-experienced teams is a real challenge," she said. "What we lack in experience, we make up for with enthusiasm and training."

CONTACTS: Eiff, (765) 494-9627; home (765) 449-9804; e-mail,; Frazier, (765) 495-1853; Zerr, (765) 495-1263

Compiled by: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page