Garden Pests: How to Eliminate Moles and Grubs from Your Landscape

I am often asked about how to eliminate certain pests from the garden, such as moles and grubs. This month’s post was contributed by a fellow blogger who has some knowledge about this very issue. Here are some helpful tips.

What this article addresses: 

  • How do I eliminate grubs and moles?
  • How do I detect the presence of moles in his garden?
  • What are some humane techniques to remove moles?
  • When should I call a professional to eliminate moles? 
  • What are some tips to deter moles from your garden?

Moles and grubs are the nightmare of beautiful gardens and perfect turf. An underground rodent, moles dig tunnels under the ground, forming mounds on the surface. Grubs live in the soil and feed on the roots of plants. Even if moles and grubs are not a direct nuisance to you, they can reap havoc on a garden.

How to Get Rid of Grubs:

Grubs are the larva of insects, especially Japanese beetle. This time of the year, grubs are found under soil surfaces, and feed on the roots of your lawn and landscape plants. Grubs are also a food source for moles; therefore, eliminating one pest can deter another.

Grub Removal Methods:

Milky Spore: Milky Spore is a bacterium, (Bacillus popillae), which is lethal to grubs of Japanese beetles. It is available in powdered form, and it works better when applied during late summer periods.

Nematodes: Beneficial nematodes (roundworms) are the natural predators of the microscopic world. One pouch of nematodes attached to a spray hose can be used to water your lawn and garden to kill grubs. It is most effective when applied after the soil heats up in the spring. Keep the lawn watered to allow the beneficial nematodes to work.

Note: Killing off grubs reduces the food source for moles and helps your lawn, but it does not guarantee that the moles will move on. 

Detecting Moles in The Garden: Mounds of soil visible around the garden, with soil collapsing partially in some places are signs that a mole is present. Before declaring war on this small mammal, wait a few days to see if the animal persists. Moles are known to feed mainly on grubs and earthworms, so if your garden is poorly supplied with food, the invader will quickly leave your property once it discovers there is nothing desirable to eat.

If more molehills become evident, you can make the decision to chase these rodents from your garden. There are several ways of accomplishing this, many which can be found in stores or on the Internet, including traps, firecrackers, natural solutions and ultrasound. Some of these techniques are easy to implement. 


How to Get Rid of Moles Naturally:

Once you have made the decision to get rid of the moles that disrupt your garden, you can choose one or more methods to deter them. Always consider respecting the environment and avoid inflicting bitter injury to these animals whenever possible.

Technique 1: Deterring Moles 

Use Plants that Repel Moles: Some plants are noted to repel moles. Marigolds and some flowering bulbs such as onion, garlic, crown imperial lily, hyacinth, daffodil, or Castor bean can keep intruders at a distance thanks to their aroma. Place these plants into mole hills to help repel the unwanted visitors.

Anti-Mole Ultrasound: There are commercially available solar powered boxes emitting ultrasonic vibrations that are inaudible to humans but will disturb the hearing of moles. Some also produce vibrations. These anti-mole ultrasounds offer the advantage of removing many kinds of rodents. Remember to place these devices in different places wherever there is evidence of moles. These ultrasound boxes are commercially available, at between 20 and 40 dollars, depending on the model.

Stick and plastic bottle method: This simple technique has proven to be quite successful according to user feedback. Place a stick into the molehill and cover it with a plastic bottle, neck down. When the wind blows it will bang on the stick and produce vibrations that moles dislike. With the constant annoyance, your mole visitor may very well become disgruntled and move on. This well known tip does have its disadvantages (such as aesthetics) but with its simplicity of installation and success rate it is certainly worth a try! A similar method, the use of pin wheels placed near a mole hole, have also proven to be a successful approach.

Technique 2: Mole Elimination

If all else fails, metal traps are available in different styles. Before handling, wear a pair of gloves to avoid leaving a human smell on the trap. Locate the most recent molehill and arm the trap with a tension rod or wrench. Carefully cover the hole and mark the location. This method has proven successful at a low cost. Tunnel Mole Traps are designed for humane mole capture with two doors that only swing inwards to let the mole in but not out. After catching the mole unharmed, it can be released into another location in the wild. Simply bury the trap in the mole tunnel or hill and let the device do its work.

When to Contact a Professional:

The call to a professional may be the last resort if you cannot get rid of the moles on your own. This expert is perfectly equipped to hunt for and eliminate moles in your garden. Cost depends on distance traveled and materials used.


Author Bio:Vicki J. Stabile is a gardening enthusiast, involved in gardening at her home’s backyard for the past five years. Vicki loves to share her gardening knowledge with others through her blog, Patio Clinic.

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Spring Maintenance of Birch, Boxwood and Hydrangea

Once mid-late spring rolls around, you may notice that some of your landscape plants are in need of some tender loving care. After the lack of snow in some parts of the northeast and prolonged frigid temperatures in the single digits this past winter season, certain plants have been more affected than others by the lack of insulation from snow cover and extreme cold. Another factor affecting the vitality of your plants could the abundant rainfall amounts hitting the eastern seaboard.

Winter Die Back on Weeping Birch

Birch trees are one species that the winter has especially taken a toll on. By this time in June, Birch trees should have pushed out most of their new foliage, but you may notice some bare branches and empty spots on your tree. If that is the case, gently scrape the bark or cut a tip off bare stems to see if there is any sign of green. If the cambium growing layer underneath the bark is green, give the tree a little more time to see if it will push out any new growth from those branches. If the layer below the bark is brown, remove the dead branch from the tree to help direct growing energy to where it is needed. Give the tree a good feeding (preferably a deep root application) and some time. The tree should gradually show signs of recovery and continue to regain its health.

Iron Deficiency on Boxwood

Boxwood is another plant which has been affected by the recent weather abnormalities. If your boxwood is looking a little paler than usual with some yellowing in the leaves, it could be a sign of iron deficiency. The abundance of rain here in the northeast has literally “washed” away much of the iron in the soil. Iron chlorosis can develop under conditions that reduce the availability of iron to the plant, such as a combination of cooler than normal temperatures and poor root aeration or soil drainage due to constant moisture. To remedy the lack of iron, apply a liquid iron solution to the soil around your plants. Most supplements will work over time to restore the plant back to good health.

Winter Die Back on Hydrangea

Hydrangea are another plant showing signs of winter damage over the past several years here in the northeast and over other parts of the country. If your Hydrangea is still showing bare stalks above new growth now in June, and stems appear dead, simply prune off the damaged wood to beneath the line of new foliage. As with most flowering plants, application of a plant food that is high in phosphorus in mid-late spring will encourage buds.

Routinely checking your garden in springtime can catch early signs of plant distress and help in avoiding more serious issues down the road. During springtime and throughout the ongoing growing season, early detection of plant issues is a worthwhile practice, After all, a little preventive care can go a long way!

For more gardening tips and design inspiration along with personal musings…

Visit my Author Page/Purchase My Books:
A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer Landscape Design Combinations
Dream, Garden, Grow!-Musings of a Lifetime Gardener

Lee Miller@Landscape Design By Lee 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Late Summer/Early Fall Pest Alert: Fall Webworm

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Fall Webworm

Fall is approaching and a common garden pest, the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea) can become noticeable on trees, causing unsightly larval nests covering entire branches, resulting in stress to the tree and severe leaf damage. Fall webworm are caterpillars that weave loose webbing around the tree’s outer foliage while feeding on leaves, compared to tent caterpillars that appear in spring and build their more opaque nests within the inner crotch of the branches. The webworm caterpillar is approximately one inch in length with a light greenish-yellow body and black to reddish head. Adults emerge later on as white moths with dark spots on their wings.

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Fall Webworm Caterpillar

The best way to eliminate fall webworm is to remove the infected branches immediately, before the larvae hatch and take over the tree. If the caterpillars have already left the nest, it is recommended to spray with an organophosphate insecticide such as Acephate (contained in Orthene or Sevin) or Malathion. Acephate is both a foliar and soil systemic which keeps on working 10–15 days after application. Malathion is a foliar insecticide which is also commonly used, but note that Malathion may leave a residue. The best proactive method of killing overwintering larvae is to apply a dormant oil in early spring while the tree is dormant. Dormant oil is a more natural solution and works by smothering and killing the overwintering eggs.

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Fall Webworm Adult Moth (Source: Wikimedia Commons Author TampAGS, for AGS Media)

In the spring, adult moths emerge and deposit eggs, continuing the life cycle of the caterpillar. These caterpillars may go through as many as eleven growth stages before leaving the web.

For more information on gardening tips and design inspiration, visit my author page or the links below.

A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer Zones 3-9

Landscape Design Combinations

Author:  Lee@Landscape Design By Lee 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Perennial Nutsedge Alert: One determined Weed

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Nutsedge Perennial Weed

If you see an unknown plant emerging in your garden or lawn that looks like this…it is known as Nutsedge, also known as nutgrass. Nutsedge is an erect, grass-llke perennial member of the sedge family. It emerges as a pale green spike starting in late May and is similar in appearance to a grass seedling. When a shoot reaches the surface, it forms a basal bulb which grows into a new plant, including roots that develop new tubers at their ends. This process takes approximately three weeks and the plant spreads rapidly throughout the summer months. Nutsedge does die back in winter when frost kills all top growth; however, most of the viable tubers will survive and sprout the following spring.

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Nutsedge Perennial Weed

If you see nutsedge in summer the best remedy is to remove it immediately, making sure to get all the roots and tubers. Tubers will be well beneath the soil and white shoots will be visible after pulling out the main plant.  Be sure to get all the new shoots and check regularly to see if any plants re-emerge.  The use of selective herbicides over the past twenty years has reduced competition from other weeds and allowed nutsedge to grow and spread more easily. Once established, this weed can be hard to control because its tubers have high energy reserves, multiple buds, and a long sprouting period. An addition, the tubers are resistant to systemic herbicides because the chemicals travel from the top growth of the plant into the roots and rhizomes but not into the tubers, which multiply. The most effective treatment is application of a pre-emergent in early spring.

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Nutsedge Perennial Weed

When nutsedge matures in the perennial border it develops long shiny leaves that resemble the foliage of daylillies.  It also produces flower spikes in late summer as seen above, which can be misleading.  Keeping on the lookout, along with a little proactive maintenance, will prevent this determined weed from taking over your landscape.

2015 Lee@ A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance.

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