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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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.

September Garden Maintenance-Virginia Creeper, Fall Webworm & Bagworm

September Garden Maintenance-Invasive Species & Pests

VIRGINIA CREEPER  (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) –“Five –Leaved Ivy”virginia creeper

It’s September and it is time to take a walk in the garden and look for late summer pests and damaging vines.  At this time of year Virginia Creeper, an aggressive native vine, will pop up in your garden and grow at a rapid rate.   Examine your perennial beds and around trees and shrubs that are especially located in a wooded area and try to get the root of this trailing vine.  This vine can grow to 50 feet long and will quickly wrap around your evergreens and deciduous trees choking them.

FALL WEBWORM: (Hyphantria cunea)fall webworm

Examine your trees for signs of fungus and insect damage.  Fall web worm is ahead of schedule this year due to the heat wave and humidity we had during the month of July.  Fall webworm is a Long Island native pest of deciduous trees such as hickory, walnut, birch, cherry, and crabapple. It appears from late summer through early fall and constructs its nest over the ends of branches.   The large webs contain caterpillars, partially eaten foliage and fecal droppings. For immediate protection of your tree remove the damaged branch.  An insecticidal spray can be applied to the webs.  It is not necessary to spray the entire tree.  When in doubt ask a professional arborist.

BAGWORM:  (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis)bagworm (2)

Bagworm has rapidly become a nuisance on Long Island over the past two years.  Bagworm defoliates evergreens such as arborvitae, pine, spruce and juniper along with select deciduous trees such as locust and sycamore.   Larvae are encased in tiny silk woven sacs on trees in early summer which are difficult to see.  As the sacs mature they appear as visible darker brown bags reaching 30-50 millimeters is size containing thousands of worms that hatch and move from tree to tree until each is completely destroyed.   For immediate protection of your tree remove the damaged branch containing the sac if possible then spray with the proper insecticide for this intruder.  When in doubt ask a professional arborist.

BAGWORM DAMAGE ON ARBORVITAEBagworm Damage

These are damaged Arborvitae from Bagworm, which if left untreated can lead to the total eradication of the tree.  Be sure to frequently check your trees and shrubs for insect damage and try to be proactive by establishing a regular maintenance program.   Your landscape will benefit greatly and give you years of enjoyment.

Author: Lee@Landscape Design By Lee, 2013, All Rights Reserved

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