How I fought the mole until I became friends with him
Long living in the Khabarovsk Territory and gardening in the difficult conditions there somehow dulled my impressions of moles near Moscow. There are no moles in Komsomolsk-on-Amur and its environs. Apparently, the proximity of the permafrost zone, from which Komsomolsk is saved only by the Amur floodplain, scares moles, and they categorically refuse to live in such conditions. After moving to the Kuban, I had to urgently recall everything that I knew about them and arrange my housekeeping, taking into account the presence of moles. This is a wonderful story of a confrontation that has grown into cooperation.
We arrived in the Kuban in the autumn, bought a house with a plot in early November and settled in the third decade. For obvious reasons (moving, container, unpacking, furniture, organization of heating) we were not up to moles and their activities.
But the matter of moles was found in our dog, descending from East Siberian huskies. He began digging molehills as soon as he looked around: he still had no such happiness as close-living game. Even the snow that fell in early December did not stop him - he dug up the snow and dug deep into it. After a week the snow melted and the dog felt better.
The plot was covered with funnels. I can’t say what part our cat took part in the raid (in Komsomolsk she caught mice and even rats in the basement), but closer to the spring we found a strangled mole. For a while, everything calmed down. Apparently, while the mole dwelling remained empty.
In March, molehills rushed around the site with renewed vigor, it seems, a new tenant settled in, who undertook to repair and expand his possessions. The dog began to dig again, tirelessly. That's when I tightly set about studying measures to combat moles.
One of the simplest measures was to dig up champagne bottles with their necks toward the prevailing winds. There are no problems with defining their direction - we are in the valley, the wind comes exclusively from two sides.
We can’t drink such a quantity of champagne in a short period of time, so all bottles, even plastic ones, were used. They were instilled as bottles appeared mainly near the beds, and in other places - even if they were digging. In some passages dug up by the dog, rags soaked in gasoline were stuffed.
These measures did not bring any result - the mole cynically dug up several bottles (one from champagne and two from wine), and the smelly ones seemed to “seal” by digging passages nearby.
The "rattles" stuck as an experiment from cans on a metal pipe irritated us much more than the mole who was digging 2 meters from the pipe. Ultrasonic repellers “covered” the area of 2 m2 - this is how much they need for 17 acres !?
By the end of April, we were not up to the mole: the grass grew so much that it already had to be mowed. We mow the electric trimmer. Mowing 17 acres, the plot in front of the house, part of the neighboring abandoned land and the plot to the forest takes a lot of time. Therefore, the event is permanent in the spring and summer. When you finish - the grass has grown already in the place from which it was started.
In the process of mowing, the mole disappeared: the molehills no longer appeared on the plot, but they began to appear in the forest next door. He probably went there. There was no mole in the mowing season!
What you need to know about moles?
The mole is a predator. By its origin and food preferences, it is much closer to hedgehogs, than, for example, to mouse voles or water rats bursting our root crops. The main food of the mole is earthworms, and this moment upsets me most of all: I feel sorry for the worms - they are useful.
But this is not the only food of the mole, which is already pleasing. The mole also eats slugs, wood lice, wireworms, gourds, millipedes, spiders and even a bear. It can eat a frog or a lizard if they could not or did not have time to escape from it. All sorts of larvae of all sorts of larvae that settled down to winter in the soil are very cleverly bursting. Caterpillars and pupae also eat with pleasure.
The ratio is approximately this: in the summer, the mole consumes up to 80% of useful soil inhabitants - worms, millipedes, spiders, etc., 20% of harmful ones - larvae, caterpillars, pupae, slugs, and bear. In autumn, this ratio changes: 65% and 35%, respectively, and can even shift significantly towards pest consumption with an abundance of these. That is, in the autumn, the mole significantly helps in saving the next year's crop.
Mole is a hard worker to look for: in one night he can make up to 50 meters of moves! This, of course, in loose earth. In our heavy clay, the distance between the new molehills in the morning I saw a maximum of about 15 meters. In general, I wonder how he digs them - wet, sticky, dense clay in the fall, winter, spring and its almost stone state in the summer.
Moreover, his system of moves is well thought out and specialized. There are passages that go vertically down to drain water, dead-end pantries where the mole puts the caught larvae, worms, biting their heads first so that they do not die and rot, but do not run away.
Residential mole mink is located quite deep, depending on the soil structure - up to 1.5 or 2 m - mainly under the roots of trees or buildings. The main (main) passages go from the mink along which the mole can move quite quickly, up to 25 meters per minute, because they are wider than the mole's body and the walls are well sealed. And already all branches, including fodder passages located close to the soil surface (5-15 cm), are already departing from the main ones, here is the abundance of food.
Food for the mole is so vital that after starving for 16 hours the mole will die. An accelerated metabolism, an increased amount of hemoglobin in the blood (not enough with the underground air) require constant replenishment. That is, for the most part, the mole does not have free time - to check the moves, repair, eat what he found, sleep and look for food again. In such conditions, he develops an aggressive attitude towards competitors and take root.
Males and females dig moves in different ways. The males are simple: a direct trunk tunnel and branches depart from it. Females are more complicated, their tunnels are somewhat chaotic. I think this is due to the protection of nests and offspring, but maybe women's logic in action.
Moles are single. They are inert and pugnacious. If the mole found a competitor on its territory, a fight begins immediately. The loser may be devoured. The mole acts in the same way with other living creatures that invaded its territory - it beats in the blood, and then eats. Therefore, with the reproduction of no troubles - mated and fled. And then the mother carries and grows up to a month and a half from 3 to 9 moles. Then the children begin to show their inert character, and their mother sends them in search of new habitats.
As in many other cases, the population itself regulates its number: with overpopulation, moles are born less and more males, with a decrease in numbers - vice versa. That is, attempts at the physical destruction of moles contribute to the demographic records of survivors. Adult females in this case are able to bear offspring twice a year (usually once).
Moles have a bad vision (what is there underground to look at?), But it is good with hearing and smell. Although the glands of the mole emit a musky smell, which attracts worms into the feeding passages and also makes the mole “tasteless” for most predators, it still has enemies. This is a pine marten, weasel, ermine, ferret, badger, fox, owl, buzzard.
From domestic cats and dogs. Moreover, many of them, having caught the mole and taking his life, apparently, because of the smell they do not want to eat it. Only those who are very hungry will eat.
What benefits can be obtained from the neighborhood with the mole?
Mole heap land. Since it is extracted from the depths of the soil, weed seeds are not there, it does not differ in special fertility and is great for growing seedlings. We have clay, so I add sand and plant seeds in this mixture. And even with spring sowing, I sprinkle rows of seeds with this mixture.
Deep loosening, drainage. In our second wintering, when, after the late mowing, the mole never came down from the mountain, during the winter rains the water stood on the site. In the spring, planting the received planting material, the earth and digging were unpleasant - there was a putrid smell from it. In the third autumn, the mole returned, during the dry season he dug up moves, and there was no such wet outrage.
Destruction of larvae, bear and other pests. In a year without a mole (when he didn’t go down for the winter, and mowing started early in the spring), the bear bitten us potatoes, water rats ate half the carrots and beets. And even when mowing in the beginning of summer, I came across snakes, snakes and yellow-bellows every now and then. I had to finish the mowing in September, and then the mole deigned to return. He quickly put everyone in their place: he drove out those who settled there who had settled there, took root (maybe he ate it - I don’t know), cleared the moves. I ate during the winter, I think, on a relaxed living creature. Mowing also began later, and the mole again went into the forest. This season we spent without significant damage.
Commensalism, useful to gardeners. In mole passages, those whom the mole does not drive out, because they do not eat his food, do not interfere with his movement, and if necessary they can also have a bite. Perhaps the main of these commensals are ground beetles, the most valuable creatures, because they are polyphagous predators and are able to eat most garden pests. The list of ground beetles' food preferences is a gardener's soul balm: snails, slugs, insect larvae, caterpillars, aphids. In mole holes they are attracted by moisture, security and the remnants of a mole meal. Ground beetles are difficult to breed, otherwise they would have long been massively released in the spring in the gardens. In moleholes, they live and breed with pleasure.
My observations of the mole
This winter is warm in the Kuban, snow fell three times and thawed after two days, so I regularly observe the activities of the mole. In the fall, he again descended from the mountain and developed violent activity. Our animals no longer prey on him: we have a new dog, almost no hunting instincts. The cat, in her 15 years, apparently decided to leave for a well-deserved rest. So the mole digs relatively calmly.
The largest number of molehills is around the perimeter of an old apple tree. I really hope that he will "thin out" the codling moth. Due to the presence of bees in the area, we do not use insecticides. A mole digs a lot in plantings of blackcurrant and raspberry, and at a distance of 50 centimeters from the bushes.
I dug up melon, there in the autumn was full of slugs. He does not climb into fenced beds, digs around. Why dont know. In the near-trunk circles there are no molehills either. In winter, I left leaf beets and parsley on the beds, periodically covering with Spanbond. So, the parsley parsley was found only in the beginning of autumn, until the mole from the mountain came down. During the winter, moleholes appeared around the garden and no one else chews parsley.
I gained land from molehills for the whole seedlings, sprinkled in a greenhouse and still need to make a bed for new varieties of sweet potato. Mole still work and work! Before mowing, you need to have time.
I think it was a good idea to delve into the study of the life of moles. The initial installation was - the enemy must be known in person. And when you take a closer look, there’s probably more benefit from it than harm!
Dear readers! If molehills annoy you, I advise you to install ultrasonic repellers around the site and drive out (catch) the mole remaining in the fenced area. A mole will help to catch an active village cat. But then with the bears, snakes, voles, slugs will have to fight with other methods.
A fence on a deep foundation or defense deeply dug around the perimeter can also solve the problem - but these are all very expensive and time-consuming activities.
Smelly and poisonous poison, stuck in a molehill, will remain in the ground, and the mole will lay new passages. Destroy the mole once and for all does not work - in its place will come others, maybe even in larger numbers. I regularly watch some of my neighbors stalk and kill moles during the summer. It happens every year.