All About Moles/Gophers and Removal Solutions

Moles burrow in the lawn and cause trouble.

Ever since recently moving into my new home, I've had to deal with mounds of dirt scattered throughout my front lawn and back lawn. Not only is it an eyesore, but the sometimes hidden gopher and mole holes are a recipe for twisted ankles. Meanwhile, my neighbor's lawn is perfectly manicured and free of holes and mounds. There must be some solution. But before I get to my solution, it's important to know the basics. Here are some of the basics of my quick mole and gopher research:

  1. Both moles and gophers dig tunnel networks underground.
  2. Moles feed on underground grubs like worms, but not garden roots. Unfortunately, their tunnel networks can indirectly uproot plants.
  3. Gophers feed on roots from plants like your vegetable garden, trees, and shrubs. This will directly kill your plants.
  4. Online reviews show people have a higher tendency to leave moles alone (as they are mostly harmless) and the tunnel networks do help to aerate the soil. Gophers on the other hand are a complete pest.
  5. Gopher mounds are oval shaped with the gopher hole at one end of the oval mound. This is because when a gopher tunnels to the surface, the ramp is graded (and not vertical). When the gopher pushes dirt out, it is always pushed out in one single direction.
  6. Mole mounds are circular shaped because when the mole tunnels to the surface, the ramp is vertical. Therefore, the dirt tends to surround the mole hole.
  7. Moles and Gopher are difficult to permanently remove because the solutions all focus on killing existing moles and gophers, but leave their tunnel networks in place. This makes it easy for new moles and gophers to take up residence.

There are many solutions, and all have their advantages and disadvantages. Your two options are to either kill or scare away gopher and moles. Below are my viewpoints on the effectiveness.

  1. Flooding Tunnel Network - The basic thought is that by flooding the tunnel network, you can cause tunnel collapse and more permanently scare away moles and gophers. In reality, I read in reviews that is uses a lot of water and creates a muddy mess. Additionally, since California is in a drought, I decided against considering this option.
  2. Smoke bombs - This tactic is only good for scaring away the mole. However, once the smoke is gone, I see no reason as to why the moles and gophers won't just return to their homes. I get the feeling that this solution would require constant bombing.
  3. Poisons - Another straightforward solution to moles and gophers unless you have kids and/or pets on your property. Additionally, since the poisons are not instant, it's possible for the moles and gophers to die in inconvenient out of reach places that may cause a stink. I personally prefer to keep my property free of poisons.
  4. Traps - This option is killing moles and gophers instantly, similar to a rat trap. The problem here is for each mole/gopher, you need to setup and clean up traps. It requires daily or weekly constant monitoring of traps. Although, based on online reviews, this method is the most effective method to remove moles.
  5. Sonic Spike - This emits and pulse and sound that scare away moles and gophers. This is one of the more humane methods since the moles and gophers don't get killed. However, it requires the spike to constantly work. There are battery and solar powered spikes. The reviews for spikes are the work well for the first few months, but either the spike breaks or the mole/gopher gets accustomed to the sound and noise and return. Also, some homeowners get driven crazy by the noise.
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