BY REBECCA SLOAN
They tunneled their way through the bed of begonias, made a mini highway system through the manicured lawn and dug up half of the daffodil bulbs planted last fall.
Although they are tiny, blind and seemingly innocent, the destructive behavior of moles can make many homeowners and gardeners want to hurl a clod of dirt and perhaps utter a dirty word.
But before you let these little pests get the best of you, take a moment and investigate the many methods of stopping moles in their tracks.
There are three basic options when it comes to getting moles out of the lawn and garden. Trap them and relocate them, try to chase them away with various mole repellents such as smoke bombs or harsh-smelling irritants, or call it an all-out war and obliterate them with poison or traps designed to kill them.
Each method has its pros and cons, and it may take a few times of trial and error to find a solution that works best.
After you have decided what route to take, head to your nearest garden supply center and get the goods.
Most garden store sell products to get rid of moles.
For example, Poison peanuts and pellets sell for about $3 to $4 for a pack of 20, and smoke bombs sell for about $5 or $6. Make sure the dog or cat don't accidentally eat them. Although it would take several of them to kill a larger animal like a dog or cat, it's best to not take the chance.
Mole relocation: If the option is relocation, be sure to drop off the critter a few miles away or it may return. According to the Moleman Web site at http://www.the moleman.com, which was created by Tom Schmidt, a man who traps moles professionally in Ohio and Kentucky, a mole's territory consists of several acres.
Live traps sell for about $13 to $15. The Victor spear trap and Victor scissors trap are, unlike live traps, designed to kill moles. They sell for about $15 to $20. These traps are positioned over a mole tunnel, obstructing the tunnel and prompting the mole to clear away the obstruction. When the mole digs at the obstruction, the trap is activated and it either skewers or crushes the mole.
If you are going to try one of these traps don't set the trap at the end of the mole's tunnel, but rather in the middle because the mole is more likely to try to clear the tunnel at its center.
Household repellents: If you can't bring yourself to kill a mole, no matter how pesky it might be, there are countless home remedies that are rumored to repel moles. They include drain cleaners, lye, pickle juice, broken glass, red pepper, bleach, mothballs, human hair balls and gasoline. Supposedly, moles will pack their bags and leave town if these substances are scattered around their tunnels.
Organic substances, such as Mole-Out, Mole-Go or Mole-Repel, which can be safely used around pets, gardens and children, can also be used to chase moles away. Some of these products are made of castor oil and soap, which moles reputedly loathe.
According to the Moleman's Web site, the longer a mole is permitted to tunnel in a yard or garden, the more likely it will be to permanently establish itself and the rest of its clan.
Moles, which are mammals and not rodents, have about three to four babies a year. They do not hibernate in the winter but tunnel deep into the ground where the temperature is comfortable. Here they feed on earthworms, their primary source of food. They also like to dine on grubs, millipedes and ants.
The eastern mole, or common gray mole, is the most widespread in this part of the country and the most associated with destructive behavior in yards and gardens. The star-nosed mole is not as common in the back yard or garden.
Moles come and go according to where they find food sources and may return to deserted tunnels.
If you think a mole has left your garden, never to return, don't be surprised if you see it again next month.