Hey! Hey! LBJ! How many moles did you kill today?
Two. That’s the answer. Of course, I’m not LBJ, and this post is about mole trapping and not the slaughter of innocents, but I’m sure you get the drift. If you understand the reference to LBJ, then you’ll be aware that many years ago, before Mama Cass died in the same hotel room as a half-eaten ham sandwich that ironically had nothing whatsoever to do with her demise despite the urban myth, there was a war on the other side of the world. After that war, no one tidied up, and the remaining bomb craters, rock piles, heaps of wreckage and dead plains which still survive today are somewhat reminiscent of our lawn. Hence the need for mole trapping.
When I say our lawn, I means Mrs IG’s lawn. Before you start questioning why there is a lawn at FAoI, let me explain. Between the brewery to the North and the Orchard in the South, and betwixt the house on the East and the treeline of the woods in the West is a grass area of roughly one acre. It’s neat, and was relatively well maintained by the previous owners. From the patio and conservatory, you look out over this grass area. Mrs IG declared it her lawn, and as she only has that and 95 per cent of the house, I figured it was fair exchange for all the outbuildings, the wood and the back field.
Anyway, the ‘lawn’ was an area of beauty and relative neatness … until the moles moved in. Neither of us have ever had any dealings with moles in the past, so the first thing we did was hit the interweb looking for a quick fix. Marshmallows don’t work; we tried that. Rat poison doesn’t work; we tried that. Moth balls don’t work, because you can’t buy the old fashioned ones, but if they did they wouldn’t work anyway. Flooding the tunnels doesn’t work; we tried that.
Nothing worked, and every day the number of mole hills rose. They we taking over and turning the lawn into a battlefield. In desperation I went for mole traps, the scissor types. It wasn’t that I thought they were better than tunnel traps; it was just what I could get quickest. They’re old ones, and generally seem to be functional and up to the task of mole trapping.
One thing you’ll notice about trying to learn mole trapping is this: every interweb self-proclaimed expert decrees that there is only one way to trap moles. They insist that their method alone will work. They’ll tell you how many moles they catch and how quickly they catch them as evidence of the credibility of their methodology. But here’s the thing. They all use totally different methods, and warn that any deviation from their mole trapping masterplan will lead to failure.
I started off following the instructions of the most convincing of the snake oil salesmen, and got nowhere. I switched allegiance to the next most convincing, and got nowhere. I went with a bloke that had a photo of moles hanging from his underpants and got nowhere. I even went with the process of Terry ‘The Mole Nemesis’ McBallbag (or something like that). Nada. Nothing. Not a single mole.
I decided to take the course required to buy and use Aluminium Phosphide. Even at £225 and a day of my life it seemed cheap. However, I couldn’t just wait for the course to come around, so I sat down with a beer and looked at every bit of advice, and tried to work out which parts were snake oil and which made sense. Then using all the parts that made sense I stuck a few traps out, and caught two moles.
So, what did I do? First I cleared away all the mole hills. This meant that any appearing were on active tunnels. Once they appeared I worked around them, probing the ground around a foot from the hill with a hide pole (any pointed long stick-like thing will do) until I felt the ‘give’ that told me a tunnel was beneath. I then cut out a section of turf around 3 x 3 inches with a trowel and felt inside to determine if it was indeed a tunnel, and which direction in went in. If it wasn’t an obvious tunnel I moved on.
Once I knew it was a tunnel, I scoped out any loose earth and used a club hammer head to compact the ground under where the trap would be located. Then I dropped in the trap and once in position I checked it would freely trigger quickly by lightly squeezing the handles. Once done (and reset), I carefully replaced the sob and covered the area with a flower pot. To keep light out, I piled spoil from the molehill around the edge where it sat on the ground and over the drainage holes.
Knowing that moles are solitary but will take over empty tunnels if they find them, I popped the dead ones back into their holes and covered them up. I figured if the tunnels still smelled a bit moley, others might not move in. That’s the rational reason. In my head I was really thinking, ‘This’ll let the mole fuckers know what happened here’.
War is hell.