Metro-East Living

Do you have a pesky mole problem? Here’s how to get rid of them.

Q: Our lawn is being overrun by moles and their tunnels. Our dog digs and finds and kills one every once in a while but this also damages the lawn. What can we do?

W.K. of Lively Grove

A: Moles feed mainly on grub worms which is the larval stage of May beetles, June bugs, and Japanese beetle larvae as well. They also feed on earthworms. As soon as the larvae hatch and begin moving in spring, the moles are on the move. This spring as the warm weather came early and we really did not have that bad of a winter, the moles began moving for food earlier than normal.

First, I will tell you that the spinning plastic daisies, chewing gum, and moth balls do not work. What does work are castor beans, which germinate into pretty large plants that you can plant around the perimeter of your lawn to prevent the moles from moving into your lawn. For long period of time castor bean seeds were hard to find, but can be found now in catalogs which specialize with heirloom seeds. There is a product which is made from castor beans.

There is also a product called Tom-Cat which is shaped like a yellow translucent earth worm as earthworms along with grubs are some of the favorite foods of moles. But they are on the expensive side as they sell for a box of six ‘worms’ for about $17. So you will want to find the main routes or tunnels and place them in these runs. So you have to find straight long runs between the mounds that they make. Just make a small hole at the top and drop the ‘worm’ in it.

Moles are active primarily active in early morning, around noon, and late afternoon. Some gardeners locate their run and then flatten them down with a lawn roller or by walking on the runs. They then wait for movement and with a long handled shovel and dig them in an upward movement to throw them to the surface and club them to death or try to cut them in half with a sharpened blade. The harpoon trap works well when placed in a known run.

Q: With us having such a mild winter should we start thinking about putting down our crab grass preventer earlier this year?

J. H. of O’Fallon

A: You are right on target. I always find the best time to put crab grass preventer down is when the golden bells (Forsythia) starts to bloom as this indicates that the soil is getting warm enough for crab grass and a lot of other weed seeds will be germinating.

Q: Twice I have purchased pawpaw trees from two different nurseries. None of them lived. Somehow I don’t think it was the fault of the nurseries. Should I purchase a tree in person rather than by mail?

M.K. of Millstadt

A: Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) seeds need to be planted in a moist rich soil usually in the fall and then grow very slowly for the first three to four years. I always recommend that a person buy a tree in person to examine the plant for roots, branches, and bark to see what you are buying especially when considering a pawpaw.

Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to

Things to do this week:

    If you have not seeded peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, and Swiss chard, you better get going.