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Moles: Misunderstood Heroes Lurking in Your Lawn

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I love Batman. Growing up, Batman was one of my favorite superheroes. Although when you think about it, he actually doesn’t have any real superpowers. He’s just a really rich guy with really cool toys. I think the reason why I liked him so much was his sense of loyalty, justice, and charity he felt for his hometown of Gotham City. No matter the personal risk, he always tried his hardest to protect the people of Gotham. Most of the time his good works went unnoticed by the general public, who were completely unaware they were minutes away from danger of some kind. Yet other times, like in the Batman movie “Dark Knight”, the general public end up hating and calling for the arrest of Batman. Even after all he’s done to serve and protect the people of Gotham, they turn on him out of ignorance, misunderstanding, and fear. Batman becomes a misunderstood hero. 

Understanding Moles

mole trapWhy on earth am I sharing a Batman parable you ask? Besides being a bit of a nerd, I think there is a similar misunderstood hero that receives absolutely no credit, and is loathed and despised by all. The humble mole. For most homeowners the initial thought upon discovering mole mounds in their grass is that of annoyance and frustration. Yes, moles leave mounds of soil which can spoil an otherwise immaculate lawn. It’s common for people to ask us here at Nature’s Seed for tips on how to kill, remove, or scare away these little critters. There are so many methods and home remedies out there, ranging from amusing (pickle juice, razor blades, human hair) to bizarre (ultrasonic devises, vibration, explosives) to environmentally destructive (fumigants, pesticides, poisons). Most of these methods are useless, environmentally irresponsible, and inhumane. Even if you do succeed at trapping or killing a few problem moles, more will take their place. It seems like all hope is lost in the battle with these “pests”. But maybe if we really tried to understand the mole and what exactly he’s doing in our lawns we would have a different outlook on this beneficial creature. 

Moles Improve Overall Lawn Health

First it’s important to understand that moles do not eat the roots of your lawn grass. This is a common misconception. They feed on worms, insects, and grubs; the same grubs that feed on grass roots and cause extensive damage. In fact, lawns with an active resident mole hardly ever experience serious grub damage. It is not uncommon for a single mole to eat up to 40 lbs. of food a year! And those tunnels moles bore under the soil surface? They actually help with aeration, providing your lawn with improved drainage, reducing soil compaction, and increasing the infiltration if nutrients to the roots. Moles play an integral part in the success of grass ecosystems. If you have a mole in your landscape, consider yourself lucky to have one of Mother Nature’s little helpers. 

Put Mole Hill Soil to Good Use

Of course there is still the annoyance of the mole hill. It’s unsightly and can cause the soil surface to become bumpy and uneven. To address this concern, I’d like to share a story. I learned a little secret a few years ago while visiting with a friend in England. The United Kingdom has beenmole hills coexisting with moles for centuries now. While helping my friend with some gardening, I noticed him walking over to a mole hill with a shovel and bucket in hand. He scooped up the freshly excavated soil, dumped it in the bucket, and then emptied it into a bin in his greenhouse. When I asked him why he keeps mole hill dirt in its own special bin, he explained to me that the soil of a mole hill makes an excellent loam, free from clumps, stones, and weed seed. My friend then pointed to his beautiful hanging baskets and potted plants and told me how, thanks to his prized mole hill loam, he’d been able to produce some of the most stunning container plants I’d ever seen. Not only do moles contribute to the overall health of a lawn, but these fuzzy little creatures gift us with perfectly texturized loam top soil. 

It’s time to start thinking differently about how we deal with our fellow creatures in the landscape. We can either go crazy trying to force nature to do something she doesn’t want to do, or we can accept, learn, and embrace her ways. It’s time to recognize that moles, like other misunderstood heroes, are actually providing a valuable service. The next time you notice a mole hill in your lawn, rejoice! You are privileged enough to have this grub-eating, loam-gifting, aerating superhero dwelling in your lawn.

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