Monday, September 17, 2012

Drastic Measures

For almost three weeks I have been battling this mole with no success. I poked holes along the five feet of tunnel along the front sidewalk and dumped poisoned pellets that were supposed to resemble grubs down the holes. The mole responded by digging out the pellets and turning the five feet of tunnels into ten and then fifteen.

Another trip to the store for more poisoned pellets and more days spent fruitlessly dumping it down more new tunnels. Occasionally the tunneling would stop and I thought I had one only to have it resume a few days later. I researched moles and how to rid them and came up with lots of advice. Use poisoned pellets was perhaps the most common method. Using ultrasonics and castor oil seemed to be the most effective but all they did was cause the mole to relocate to a different part of the yard. The advice was to keep expanding your area until the mole was outside of your yard. This would probably work well if you hated your neighbors and had a relatively small yard but with two acres and good neighbors, I switched to different ammunition.

Round three began with gummy worms that supposedly moles loved to eat even if they were chock full of poison. For ten bucks, I could get a pack of eight worms and they were guaranteed to be effective according to the literature. After 16 worms, I finally thought I had the mole but as I came back from the bus stop with my daughter a couple days later, I saw new activity and even worse. The mole had insulted me by digging the gummy worms out and leaving them on display on top of the mound of dirt guarding his exit. Get the garden hose I said to my daughter with clenched teeth.

I dug up a tunnel and then five more openings around the perimeter of the activity. I stuck the garden hose down the first tunnel and cranked open the water valve. Twenty minutes later and perhaps a couple hundred gallons of water that I poured down into the bowels of the parched earth, I started topping out the holes with water. I suspect there must have been a massive den underneath my sidewalk that was now a giant swimming pool or new aquifer. As I topped up the last hole with water, I began to see some dirt movement. I grabbed the shovel and bid my time not wanting to risk the thing slipping back underneath the sidewalk. I kept the water going in the nearest hole and at last, I saw a snorkel of a mouth appear out of the pool of water sucking in air.

I wasn't sure how to make my next move. The snorkel mouth was right next to the hose and I was afraid any stabbing slice with the shovel might result in a damaged garden hose. I thought about my options for a minute or two and had decided to try and get my shovel underneath the mole and flip him and the hose nozzle out. I grabbed the shovel and the little devil finally made a blind dash for it across the sidewalk. As you can see, he made it about half way before he found himself between a shovel blade and a hard spot. He didn't make it.

I filled up the rest of the holes along the sidewalk but no other survivors made it out that I saw. On a role I pulled the hose around to the side yard where I had thought I had vanquished the mole there until a day ago. I dug up three tunnel entrances and pumped water down them for another half hour. I filled two of them up but the third never did fill. I could hear the water gurgling down into the bowels of the earth endlessly. I finally gave up on that one. I never did see any moles in that complex so I'm hoping that they were just a summer home for the one that lived underneath my sidewalk. I filled all the holes in and tamped them down. Now the waiting begins again.

This was the first time I had seen a mole in person and up close. I'm impressed with their over sized front paws. According to the net, they can dig up to eighteen feet of new tunnels a day in their search for earthworms. I believe it.


Ron said...

If you didn't have a sidewalk or lawn to worry about, they actually are not bad to have around. Not only do they eat worms, but they also eat the grubs that turn into Japanese beetles.

I wouldn't want one of those digging machines under a sidewalk though.

Ed said...

Ron - As much water as I had to pour into their burrows under the sidewalk, I'm wondering if there is any dirt holding it up. I'm with you, had they just decided to live back behind the house in the scrubby part of the lawn, I would have let them stay.

sage said...

You know, if I had looked at that photo before lunch, it would have helped my diet greatly! You make the mundane exciting.

edifice rex said...

The whole time I was reading this I just had flashes of CaddyShack playing over and over. Tell me please that you did all this wearing shorts and combat boots! lol!

Vince said...

In London it's grey squirrels that are the pest. They eat anything. Strip plastic from electrical cables and bark for young trees.

Woody said...

Good hunting Ed. Have you considered a mount for the garage?

Murf said...

Did you really need to put the picture at the beginning? I found this story to be pretty disturbing, especially the attempted drowning. Being poisoned and dying from it is one thing. Hearing about this poor creature who is blind to begin with struggling for air as you tried to drown him is another. Thank you for making me glad I don't live in the country.

Ed said...

Sage - I'm easily amused I guess.

Edifice Rex - Shorts yes but alas,no combat boots.

Vince - Fortunately, our squirrels are well fed with walnuts and acorns here so they don't touch the wiring.

Woody - I hadn't thought of that but it would have been pretty neat.

Murf - Please excuse me. I don't have a dog that would dig them out for me, chew them up slowly and then let them suffer near the steps where I could find it later. The mole's death was quick.