Why do moles and gophers love my yard?

…and how can I get rid of them?

It’s time to fire up the grill and enjoy the summer sun outside. But what is this? Lately you’ve noticed someone new in the neighborhood — a secret admirer eyeing your lawn.

If you’ve noticed a few dirt mounds on your lawn recently, a mole or gopher has likely moved in. Why are there moles and gophers in your yard … and, more importantly, how can you get rid of them? Read on to see what attracts these pests.

A gopher sticks its yellow teeth out of the ground.

Where do moles and gophers live?

Moles and gophers like to move right into gardens, farms and golf courses (or, really, anywhere the soil is good) to dig tunnels. Nice yards create an opportunity for moles and gophers to build extensive runways below ground, tunneling around in search of food. When moles and gophers are satisfied (or just need some fresh air), thy shoot out from underground to create mounds or distinctive holes.

There are seven North American species of moles: Townsend’s moles (Scapanus townsendii), coast moles (Scapanus orarius), shrew moles (Neurotrichus gibbsii), broad-footed moles (Scapanus latimanus), eastern moles (Scalopus aquaticus), hairy-tailed moles (Parascalops breweri), and star-nosed moles (Condylura cristata). These species generally say in specific parts of the country, but the first three are most popular in the Pacific Northwest.

There are three main species of gopher in North America: Northern pocket gophers (Thomomys talpoides), plains pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius), and Southeastern pocket gophers (Geomys pinetis). Aptly, the type of gopher most common in the Pacific Northwest are Northern pocked gophers.

What do they eat?

These pests stick around when you have moist, cool, healthy dirt. The better your lawn looks, the better chance of housing moles or gophers. They feed off of insects and plant roots. In a short time they can destroy the ecosystem below your lawn and turn your grass brown.

Specifically, moles prefer locations such as gardens where they can excavate and forage. While they are often found in well-kept lawns, they have also been known to crop up in very unfavorable conditions. Just because your lawn isn’t winning neighborhood prizes, doesn’t mean you can’t have moles. They prefer to hunt for food in moist shady areas and most commonly dig in fertilized areas (as these are home to lots of earthworms). Moles have also been known to eat millipedes, insect larvae, snails, and even frogs or young mice.

Gophers, on the other hand, are strict herbivores. A gopher’s diet shifts seasonally according to the availability of food. It’s a common expression that gophers are ‘all mouth and no heart,’ because they will eat just about any plant.

Why is this a problem now?

Contrary to popular belief, moles and gophers do not hibernate. They simply burrow deeper into the ground during winter months to avoid freezing to death. When warmer months come, they move closer to the surface of your lawn, because that’s where their food moves.

How can I get rid of them?

What can you do to turn back the clock on the rodents that have taken over your yard? LandCare Mole and Gopher will work hard to keep your property safe. We use custom underground traps to remove rodents quickly and humanely, so that you can go back to enjoying your summer.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Zyg Zee