Washington State is home to three species of moles. The moles that are most commonly seen causing a problem to your landscape however are the Townsends mole and the Pacific mole. Both of these species can cause serious damage to home landscapes.
The largest of the North American moles, Townsend moles get their name from the American naturalist, John Kirk Townsend. They are fossorial mammals in the Talipdae family. Fossorial mammals are those adapted to digging and who primarily live underground. This species of moles prefer deep loamy soil which is a mix of sand, silt, and clay. They often occupy river floodplains, meadows, hayfields, pastures, residential lawns, prairies, and some areas of forests. They are a purplish-gray to almost black color that hints at a metallic appearance with males being larger in size. Their fur is short and their bodies are cylindrical and streamlined to aid in their underground movement. Their shovel-like paws make it easy for them to dig.
Also known as the coast mole, this mole is typically found in forested or open areas with moist soil. Unlike the Townsend mole, the Pacific mole actually has a tale that is one-fourth the length of its body and is predominantly black. Though it is a fossorial animal this species is not restricted to living solely underground. If needed they will scavenge for their food sources which include earthworms, earthworm eggs, slugs, insects, and larvae. Oftentimes, the tunnels they dig are in correlation to higher density levels of earthworm activity.
The most obvious sign that you have moles in your yard is molehills. When moles dig underground they move all the dirt from their tunnel systems to the surface which is also their entry and exit points. These mounds will consist of chunks of dirt or clumps of soil that are roughly six feet apart from one another.
Of course, as moles move along these tunnel systems they tend to create other problems for homeowners in the pursuit of their underground digging. Dead patches of grass or plants can be one result of mole activity as the disruption of any plant’s root systems is disturbed leading to dead plants or dead patches of grass.
Moles can be extremely difficult and frustrating to deal with. They construct intricate tunnels that run underground making them hard to catch. The most effective way to deal with them is to prevent them from becoming a problem in your yard in the first place. As with most animals, moles are always looking for a food source. By eliminating their food source they are less likely to be attracted to your yard. This can be a bit tricky since they eat insects and grubs but you can cut down on the insect and grub population by using earth-friendly products around your yard. Moles also dislike florals in the allium family. Flowers such as marigolds and daffodils work as repellents for moles.
Moles also have a dislike for activity. They prefer calmer environments where they will not be bothered. High pitch sounds are off-putting for them so purchasing a sonic spike that will radiate electronic pulses can have them turning the other way. Lastly, digging trenches around areas you want to keep moles out of is another option in prevention. By digging at least 2 feet deep and six inches wide you can create a perimeter around the space that you want to protect and fill it in with rocks to create a landscaped looked that serves a multi-purpose.
Keep in mind that moles are not in the same family as rats and mice. Though they are often perceived this way moles are actually quite separate in nature from their rodent friends. However, they can be just as destructive. If you think you have a mole in your yard or more than one mole you may just want to contact your local pest control service to see what options you have before they completely excavate your yard.