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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns


Raised soil ridge

Mole mound
Photo by Larry L. Strand

Click on images to enlarge.


Moles are small mammals that live almost entirely underground in a vast network of interconnecting tunnels 3 to 30 inches (7.5 - 75 cm) deep. The main runways are usually less than 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, and may be 16 to 18 inches (40 - 45 cm) below the surface. Moles dislodge turfgrass plants as they push up through the soil from just below ground level looking for worms, insects, and other invertebrates. Surface feeding burrows appear as ridges. The mounds formed by moles are pushed up from an open center hole. The soil may be in chunks, and single mounds often appear in a line over the runway connecting them.

Prevention and management

Trapping is the most dependable method of controlling moles. Various mole traps are available at hardware stores or nurseries. Traps are generally set straddling or encircling the runway. Before setting traps, determine which runways are in current use. Moles dig a system of deep tunnels as well as a network of surface runs that may only be temporary. To determine which ones are active, stamp down short sections of surface runways and observe daily for signs of activity. Set traps at least 18 inches from a mound and only in runways used daily. Deeper tunnels can be located with a probe. Remember to fill the portion of the tunnel under the trap's trigger with loose soil.

Your county UC Cooperative Extension office can direct you to agencies or individuals that control these animals.

More information


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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