Making A Mountain out of Mole Hill?

Human moles [of the espionage kind] are sometimes referred to as ‘rats’ due to their devious behavior of being underhanded and duplicitous. But what is the biological origin of ‘moles' and should we be on guard to thwart these creatures and their pernicious behavior in the wild?

Culturally speaking, moles in Middle English were known as moldwarp. The expression “do not make a mountain out of a mole hill” — meaning to exaggerate a problem — was first recorded in Tudor times and is commonly used in modern-day parlance today. However today’s blog is no exaggeration. It’s the creepy crawly truth.

Scientifically speaking . . .

The origin of ‘mole’ comes from one of the planet’s oddest looking mammals, and they, similar to their human counterparts are known to work covertly at night and underground, unbeknownst to many of us. Species-wise they hail from the Talpidae family in the order Eulipotyphia, found throughout most parts of North America.

Lucky me, I learned just recently that moles have entered my family's personal space. My mother-in-law put me wise to the fact that a “labour” (aka a group of moles) had infiltrated our backyard. She determined this by discovering a series of surface mounds that had been created as the result of these devious creatures creating tunnels just below our lawn’s surface.

Since a mole's diet primarily consists of earthworms and other small invertebrates, the mole-runs are in essence: "worm traps.”  Moles immediately sense when worms fall into one of their DIY tunnels and will quickly pounce on their new-found prey.

A mole’s burrow and their raised molehills will kill parts of one’s lawn, as is evidenced in my yard, where our grass is thread-bare due in large part to this recent activity. While, they can also disrupt plant and flowers — indirectly causing them to die — moles are not known to eat their roots.

Outing A Mole

Because a mole is blind, their activities tend to be nocturnal, taking place mainly in their newly acquired subterranean digs. However, they can be caught and killed off. It just takes a little work. Traps such as mole-catchers, smoke bombs, and calcium carbide and strychnine poisons are effective.

Another is Phostoxin or Talunex tablets. They contain aluminium phosphide and are inserted in the mole tunnels, where they turn into phosphine gas (not be confused with phosgene gas.) Also, more recently, high-grade nitrogen gas has proven successful, with the added advantage of having no polluting effect to the environment.

Other common defensive measures include smoking the burrow or pouring in cat litter and blood meal.  Humane traps that capture the mole alive so it may be transported elsewhere is another option.

Personally, I’ve decided to leave the arduous task of outing our moles to the professionals. Since landscapers have a better handle on how best to interrogate . . . erh, eradicate the moles in our midst, I’d rather have them go mana a mole, versus me stepping in between.

How ‘bout you? Have you ever come face-to-face with a mole? Let us know your best practices in making mountain out of your mole hill?