Mole Traps and Mole Control
Mole trapping is a battle that is waged over a wide geographical front. Twenty five species of true moles of the mammalian subfamily Talpinae are distributed in North American, Europe, and Asia, and an additional 17 species of Golden Moles of the family Chrysochloridae are found in sub Saharan Africa. These species are generally similar in habits, and many of them can become pests when they live in gardnes, turf, or other landscaped areas. Moles are insectivores, eating worms and soil insects, and thus will not damage larger perennial shrubs by eating the roots, as gophers do, however they can cause significant cosmetic damage to lawns and gardens, and they can kill delicate annuals by pushing plants up out of the ground and creating air pockets around the roots. For more information on distinguishing moles from other burrowing pests based on the type of damage they do, please see our Pest ID Guide.
Mole damage in a new landscape. Damage from moles can range from mild to severe.
Mole Trapping Tips
Basic information on setting and placing our Trapline mole traps can be found on the Trap Instructions page of this website, and in the mole trapping videos to the right. The videos are probably your best place to start if you haven't trapped moles before. On this page, we'd like to provide a few additional tips on selecting the most productive tunnels for trap placement, some thoughts on trapping moles in different soil types, and we'd like to stress the importance of correctly bedding mole traps after placement in the mole runs.
Tunnel Selection. Moles leave two basic types of above ground signs, which generally correspond to different types of underground tunnels. Raised tunnels or ridges are seen above shallow feeding tunnels where moles have pushed their way or "swam" through soft moist soil. When digging deeper tunnels, or tunnels in harder soil, moles are not able to just push their way through the soil, but must excavate soil, push it along their run, and push it to the surface in the form of mole mounds. While it is a myth that the shallow "feeder" runs are not reused--they definitely are--it is true that the deeper runs are used more frequently and consistently, and thus on general principle, traps set on deeper straighter tunnels will tend to be more productive than traps set in shallow feeder tunnels.
Some of the deeper travel tunnels will have been in continuous use for years, and these tunnels may show no above ground signs at all, but you can often guess their locations, usually in shadier, wetter areas, and very often lying next to physical barriers such as the foundation of a house, or driveway. Note that these deeper runs may not be much deeper than the feeder runs. Feeder runs under the raised ridges might be a couple inches below the surface, and the travel runs might be 3 or 4 inches below the surface. It is possible to catch moles on the shallow runs below the raised tunnels, and in our service business, we do catch moles in these tunnels fairly consistently in situations where we can't find deeper runs. But if you can locate deeper, longer, straighter runs, particularly running along barriers, these should be chosen and will give more consistent catches.
This first video gives an introduction to the trap and shows a basic setup on an active mole run, plus some results.
This is a detailed look at how to set the trap, done by Trapline Products' professional hand model, Maynard Stanley. (OK, Maynard actually runs a wildlife control business in Maine)
Trapping in Varying Soil Types. Moles can live in a variety of soil types ranging from solid clay soils, to loamy soils, to soft sandy soils. And while it is possible to trap moles in any soil type, our traps work more efficiently in clay or loam type soils, and less efficiently in very sandy soils or in very soft crumbly soils that have been heavily amended with organic material(ie potting mix type soils). The reason for this is that moles do have some natural inclination to dig around or under solid objects in their tunnels, and it's simply harder for them to dig around traps set in clay or loam soils, and easier for them to dig around traps set in very soft or sandy soils. Our experience in our service business is that if we set a couple of pairs of traps for a particular mole in clay or loam type soil, we almost always catch the mole on the first set. Catching moles in sand may require more persistence with repeated sets often necessary.
There are a couple of ways to improve trapping success in crumbly or sandy soils. Irrigating the area first and then setting traps on new activity in wet ground can help. Mole tunnels in these soil types will often stay intact better when the soil is wet, and this can help improve trapping results. Also, correctly "bedding" traps after placement is critically important in softer soils. See below.
Bedding Traps. "Bedding" traps simply refers to pressing the traps down into the soil slightly after placement in the tunnels, so as to make the traps less perceptible to the moles. We can't emphasize enough how important this is--in all soil types. As shown in the video to the right, there is a little bit of a trick to doing this correctly so that the front jaws of the trap set down into the soil a bit. But understanding and practicing this a couple of time on the surface before placing traps into the tunnels can really make a big difference in success rates.