Tips for Identifying Moles, Voles and Gophers

Tips for Identifying Moles, Voles and Gophers

There are so many different creatures that can wreak havoc on your lawn and garden but none as infamous as the mole, vole, and gopher. These critters can transform a perfectly manicured lawn into a maze of mounds and tunnels that can cause even the most relaxed homeowner an abundance of stress. 

Luckily, Victor® is a leading innovator in pest control and can provide you with a number of humane solutions to reclaim your lawn and garden from these common pests. Knowing your enemy is the hardest part of the battle. Here are a few tips on how to identify common types of tunnel-dwelling yard pests and how to safely rid them from your yard.

Identifying Moles and Mole DamageMoles and mole damage

Contrary to popular belief, moles are not rodents. They are considered insectivores which means they primarily eat insects. These creatures are nearly blind and live most of their lives underground by tunneling beneath the earth in their constant search for food. Moles can tunnel up to one foot per minute and can cause extensive damage to all areas of a lawn including grass, flower beds, tree roots, and gardens.

There are two types of identifying marks moles leave in the ground, runways and mounds. Runways are long, shallow tunnels on the surface of a lawn and look like small ridges. They will feel spongy and soft when walked upon. Open holes to the surface are rarely seen in mole runways. To determine if a runway is active, step on the entire length of the runway and leave it for a day. If the runway stays flat, it is inactive. If it has reopened and become rounded and tunnel-like again, it is active.

Mounds are a mole’s long-term solution for access to a food source. These tunnels are much deeper and are actively monitored for potential food that burrows into the mound. The mounds appear on the surface in conical shapes and are relatively uniform in shape. Mounds are notorious for killing grass.

Mole Prevention and Solutions

  • Insecticides -- These limit the mole’s food supply and make your yard less appealing.
  • Barriers -- Placing decorative rocks or posts can help reduce the extent of tunneling.
  • Water Your Lawn Less -- Moles like soft soil, so taking this away will be a deterrent to them and their food source.
  • Trap or Repel --  Victor® has many solutions available that will help rid burrowing pests from your yard. Repellents like Victor® Mole & Gopher Repellent naturally drive out moles through its use of unpleasant scents and tastes. Traps offer an easy and hands-free (after setup) way to permanently take care of individual moles you find in your yard through their quick and efficient kill mechanisms.

Identifying Voles and Vole DamageVoles and Vole Damage

Like moles, voles also tunnel and create runways through your lawn. However, this is where the similarities end. Voles typically tunnel on the surface and eat their way through the grass to get to their burrows. They can also make small runways underneath the surface that are about two inches in diameter. Many vole holes are found underneath low lying leaves or plants, so make sure to double check near your garden or extra leafy areas.

While voles mainly love to inhabit grassy areas and subsist off of green vegetation, they will travel to the next best thing they can find when food is more scarce, which usually means your garden. If your plants have started to wilt or turn yellow, there is a good chance its roots have been eaten by a vole. Fruit trees and shrubs are also in danger of having their roots eaten. Routinely checking plants for signs of wilting or color change as well as nearby tunneling will help you identify whether your plants are in danger of being eaten by a vole.

Vole Prevention and Solutions

  • Mow Your Lawn Regularly -- Voles will have less of a food source and will choose a yard with more vegetation.
  • Reduce the Number of Plants on the Ground -- Dense vegetation provides food and protection from predators.
  • Protect Your Trees -- Voles love to eat bark on trees. Try a mesh fence made of hardware cloth and bury it a few inches into the ground around your trees.
  • Use a Repellent -- These are very effective at keeping voles away from areas you would like to keep vole-free.

Identifying Gophers and Gopher DamageGophers and Gopher Damage

Gophers are by far the largest of the three and therefore can cause the most damage. Not only have gophers earned a reputation for destroying lawns but they have been known to destroy underground utility cables, sprinkler systems, and irrigation systems. Most gopher activity is noticed in the spring and fall when they are the most active. These rodents also burrow near the surface of the earth and are often confused with moles.

If you notice several fan-shaped mounds in your yard, you might have a gopher infestation. As the gophers dig tunnels, they push dirt to the surface and out of their tunnels which creates a small mound on the surface each time they push dirt out of their tunnels. The good news is that gopher tunnels tend to be less extensive than mole tunnels. However, they are usually larger and deeper, up to six feet, making it more of a hassle to fix.

Gopher Prevention and Solutions

  • Wire Mesh -- Mesh buried a few inches below the surface can help prevent mounds and protect plants.
  • Plastic Netting -- This method can help protect seeds and seedlings.
  • Raised Gardens -- Building or buying raised gardens can prevent gophers from having access to plants at all.
  • Traps or Repellents -- Victor® offers a wide variety of repellents that prevent gophers from entering your yard as well as traps that can rid your yard of the ones already there.

Have Any Questions?

There are tons of solutions to win back your lawn regardless of whether you have a mole, vole, or gopher problem. There are no methods that can fully protect your lawn, but there are many solutions that can drastically reduce the risk of finding yourself battling these tunneling pests. Check out our website for great solutions and be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter to get exclusive offers and updates.