For Release March 13, 2005
Mole and Gopher Control Options
by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent
Few things get a homeowners ire up like a gopher or a mole who tries to establish residence in their perfect yard. Moles and pocket gophers are both native Kansas animals found in the tallgrass prairie and in the case of the moles, into the forest edges also. You will seldom see either one of them above ground and that is where the similarity ends!
Pocket gophers are vegetarians. They live in nice burrows, they push up piles of finely ground dirt and they eat the roots of plants, preferably fleshy taproots like you'll find on dandelions, carrots and other deep rooted plants. Gophers are pretty easily dealt with. Since they are vegetarians they are quick to eat poison peanuts IF you get them down in the tunnel. Since gophers are paranoid about snakes, they keep their tunnels plugged up. So you find a fresh mound, scrape away the dirt and you will find a fresh dirt plug. Once you get that plug removed, you can either place the poison grain in the tunnel or use one of many effective traps.
Moles are another story! They are insectivores. They eat insects, not plants or grain. Traditional grain based poisons don't work. Trapping is difficult because moles create two different types of tunnels. Shallow surface tunnels are usually used just once as they swim through the soil looking for insects and worms. Consider them a one trip buffet line. These are easily found by walking across an infested yard and feel the earth get spongy under you feet.
The tunnels they use on a regular basis are much deeper. They barely poke up to the surface, but you can find them. To be sure, stick a flag near one, stomp it down and see if they push it back open. If they do, you've found an active tunnel. This is where you'll set your trap or use your poisons. Yes, I know that I said they don't eat grain based poisons. But there are now several effective mole control products that are formulated in some manner so that they are attractive to moles. They are sold as pellets and also as gels. But make sure you get them down where pets and other wildlife won't get to them.
Some people try to control moles through lawn insect control. This can offer some relief, but it is a slow process. Additionally, now is too early to be treating. The best time to treat for grubs, and other lawn insects that moles would eat, is in July and early August. So this isn't a solution for awile. Even if you manage to create a mole food free lawn, you may still be troubled by moles if they decide to cross under your lawn going from point A to point B looking for food.
I thought I had seen everything possible for mole and gopher control. The twirly windmills and the ultrasonic devices don't work so don't waste your time and money. But then a new control device came to my attention. A company in Idaho has a device known as the Rodenator Pro. This rather interesting five foot long tubular device is connected to bottles of propane and oxygen. You insert the end of the wand into an open tunnel and the device releases a precisely metered mixture of propane and oxygen. The operator then squeezes a trigger, an electronic ignition device creates a spark and the mixture creates a small explosion in the tunnel with the idea being that the concussive shock wave then kills the critter. I would NOT recommend trying this with a homemade device!! The company has a website with video of the device in action, go to http:/www.rodenator.com. Oh, this little toy isn't cheap. If you want one it's going to set you back close to $2,000. I think other control measures sure look good at that price!
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