The Eastern Mole

The Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus L.) is a common pest of Arkansas lawns. Many perceive moles as rodents, when in fact, moles are actually insectivores belonging to the family Talpidae.

There are a few important facts to understand about The Eastern Mole:

  • Dental structure- Since moles lack the dental structure to chew plant material, the damage observed can be defined as “in-direct”. While the mole will sometimes cut surface vegetation to take down to the nest, the material is not eaten.
  • Diet– People commonly blame grubs as the reason they have moles, when in fact, that is only part of the reason. A moles diet can consist of at least 52 different foods, including beetle larvae, ant, centipedes and earthworms. “A study of the stomach contents of moles (Hartman et al. 2000) found 29 species of ants that comprised 15 percent of their total food volume, but none of the ant species were the imported red fire ant (Solenopsis invieta)”.
  • Tunnels– “A mole’s underground activity is comprised of surface tunnels, main tunnels and nests”. The damage caused by surface tunnels is a result of plant roots separating from the soil. The main tunnels, which are typically 6 inches beneath the soil, are more commonly used to: access distant feeding areas, provide a regular food basis and help males seeking mates during the winter months.
  • Damage– It is important to differentiate the damage caused by gophers and moles. While both live underground, their control methods are very different. For this reason, it is important to identify the damage caused by each. “Mole hills are not common, but when encountered, they are less than 6 inches tall and are usually volcano­ or football-shaped”. It is important to note that an entrance is not evident. In contrast, gophers will produce numerous, large mounds with a “plug” in the middle where soil has been filled in. “Gopher mounds are usually kidney­shaped or fan­shaped but can be other shapes”.

Photo Courtesy, Reference and Credit:

https://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/fsa-9095.pdf

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