sealPurdue News

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

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

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