Because of the mole’s unique biological attributes, the most effective way to control moles is trapping. As mentioned previously, moles are solitary and have a high energy requirement that dictates a large feeding territory. Thus, mole densities are not as great as you might imagine. A single lawn may have only one or two moles, which means the offending animals can be removed and the problem solved. In addition, mole reproduction is so low that areas are not repopulated quickly. The habit of moles to quickly open and repair damaged runways provides another advantage in trapping. A mole becomes suspicious when it encounters anything unusual in  its  burrow  such  as  a  steel  leg-hold  trap,  but  it  is  not suspicious of soil blocking the runway. When it encounters blockage, the mole immediately pushes its way into the blocked area, reopens it, and continues on its way.  Specially designed mole traps take advantage of this habit. When preparing to trap moles, be aware that moles are sensitive to anything unnatural in their environment. Be careful not to tear up large amounts of soil or many sections of bur-rows when setting a trap. Also be aware that a poorly set or incorrectly placed trap is an immediate danger signal to the mole and will cause the mole to detour. Trapping moles takes patience and persistence. If you have an ongoing problem with moles, you may need to set traps during most of the summer.


Types of Mole Traps

Three types of mole traps are currently available and all work equally well Figure 1 Harpoon and scissor trapsif used properly.  The  names  of  these traps  are  harpoon  trap,  scissor-jaw  trap,  and  choker-loop trap. The harpoon trap has sharp spikes that spear the mole as it passes. The scissor-jaw trap kills by grabbing the animal. These traps are shown in Figure 1. Finally, the choker-loop trap has a loop that tightens around the mole’s body. You can buy traps at local hardware, agriculture supply, feed and seed stores, or from the manufacturers.


When and Where to Trap

Trap site selection and timing are critically important if trapping is to be successful. Because of the difficulty in placing a trap in a deep burrow, most trapping is done on surface burrows. Remember surface burrows are used most actively during the spring and fall and immediately after a warm rain.  Trapping during these periods increases the likelihood of catching the animal. To be successful, you must find an active burrow. Active burrows are relatively straight runways that may connect two systems of foraging activity. A burrow system that ends abruptly has probably been abandoned, and a burrow system that is highly branched and turning back on itself, is probably a foraging burrow and may also be abandoned. In addition, burrows that have numerous mouse holes or breaks are probably not being used.


To find a frequently used burrow, tramp down with your foot on each runway (see Figure 2). Within 12 to 24hours active runways will be repaired. Then, you can put a trap in this location. If the trap has  not  captured  amole in three days: (1)the trap was placed in the wrong location, (2)the  runway  was  disturbed  too  much,  (3)the trap was improperly set,  and  the  mole  detected  it,  (4)  the  mole  changed  its  habits  and  was  not actively using the burrow, or (5) you captured all the moles in the general area. Traps  are  generally  more  effective  if  set  in  the  late afternoon or early evening (4 to 6 p.m.) coinciding with the  activity  period  of  the  mole.  Be  sure  to  check  the spring  mechanism  several  times  to  ensure  the  trap  is working adequately before placing it in the burrow sys-tem.  If traps need to be relocated, wait until after the morning activity period. Be sure to handle the traps safely, keep them away from children, and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Put a small bucket over them if children or pets are present. Instructions below show the proper use of each type of trap.


Setting a Harpoon TrapFigure 3 Harpoon trap

  1. Level and lightly pack down the runway ridge with your foot.
  2. Set the trap (with the safety catch  in  place)  so  that  it straddles  the  active  runway and is inserted deeply enough to  prevent  recoil  when  the trap  is  sprung.  The trigger pan should touch the flattened ridge (see Figure 3).
  3. Release  the  safety  catch  al-lowing the spikes to be forced into the runway (or raise and release  the  spikes  several times  to  make  holes  in  the soil for the spikes to enter).
  4. Set the trap and leave it alone. Do not disturb any other part of the mole’s runway system.

Setting a Scissor-Jaw Trap
Figure 4 Scissor trap

  1. Dig  out  a  section  of  a  straight  runway  with  a  garden trowel across the runway a little deeper than the burrow and as wide as the trap. Note the exact direction of the tunnel indicated by the open ends.
  2. Replace and repack the loose soil.
  3. Set the trap (be sure to secure the safety catch). Place the trap in the runway so that it straddles the open runway. Be sure the trigger mechanism touches the packed soil between the jaws (see Figure 4).
  4. Place the trap so that the ends of the jaws are set about1 inch below the runway opening. Make sure the trap is in line with the runway so the mole has to pass between the jaws.
  5. Set the trigger mechanism so that it will spring easily. Release the safety catch. Caution: Be extremely careful when handling these traps.