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Moles

Garden moles can do considerable damage to turf, lawns, formal gardens, fairways, greens and sports grounds with their constant digging.  They can quickly establish themselves in a location due to their ability to tunnel up to 4 metres an hour, creating complex burrow systems. The eyesight of moles is generally poor, as is their sense of smell. They find food by their acute sense of touch and vibration.

Mole hills and ridges spoil lawns, bowling and golf greens and flower beds. Their tunnelling damages the roots of young plants and exposes stones and debris that can damage machinery. These factors are costly to gardeners and businesses that rely on their grounds, lawns, greens or gardens.

FACT: Moles prefer to inhabit areas which are rich in insects and worms, as they are insectivores with around 80% of their diet being earthworms.

Taking prompt action at the first sign of moles will ensure your problem can be quickly treated.

How to Identify Signs of Garden Moles

It’s unlikely that you will ever see moles as they rarely venture above ground, but the irritating evidence of their existence on your property is hard to miss:

  • Molehills are the name given to fresh mounds of earth that spring up overnight on lawns and other grassy areas.
  • Newly formed molehills will have loose, damp soil between the blades of grass, whereas the soil on older hills will have become flatter and more compacted.
  • Distinctive raised ridges are also caused by the extensive tunneling of moles.
  • Mole runs disturb roots and can hinder growth in crops, flowering plants and lawn areas.
  • Tunnelling by moles will bring stones up to the surface which may damage mowing machines and harvesters.
  • The very uneven ground caused by raised ridges and molehills can cause livestock to fall and become injured.

There is little that can be done to prevent moles entering an area. They often move in from adjacent woodland and banks.  Moles are good swimmers and streams present no barrier to their movement

There are plenty of old wives tales that will tell you how to get rid of garden moles, but most of these have no scientific support whatsoever. These include:

  • Flooding mole tunnels with a hosepipe
  • Pouring castor oil down the tunnels

TIP YOU CAN TRUST: Reduce the main food source of moles by removing moss and weeds that earthworms are known to like. Having said that, it’s worth remembering that a certain number of worms are good for aerating the soil in your lawn.

Professional Garden Mole Removal

There is an argument for tolerating a small number of moles, as they are not known to carry disease. If this is how you feel, simply remove the earth that makes up the molehills and use a roller to flatten lawn areas where required.

While DIY pest control products can deal with smaller mole problems, a professional mole control service will probably be required for larger outbreaks of garden moles on your property.

 

 

Deterring Garden Moles

Some businesses are willing to put up with a small number of moles on their property, particularly as these creatures are not known to carry diseases.

In this case, all we would recommend is that you remove the freshly dug earth from the molehills and flatten lawns with a roller if you feel that is necessary.

Old Wives Tales to Avoid Garden Moles

There are many quirky stories about how you can deter garden moles:

  • Putting glass or unpleasant smelling moth balls into the tunnels
  • Placing children’s windmills in the soil with the hope that the vibration, as the blades turn, will prevent the highly sensitive moles returning
  • Growing plants such as alliums and caper surge

Unfortunately these treatments have no scientific credibility whatsoever and, sometimes, they will do more harm than good.

The fact is, if moles find you have soft, fertile soil full of tasty earthworms and grubs, there is little you can do to deter them. Professional trapping and fumigation are the only reliable solutions to treat an unwanted mole problem.

If you’re not certain if you have a garden mole problem, click here for the telltale signs.

Garden Moles (European Moles)

(Talpa europaea)

As solitary creatures most of the year round, you’ll be very lucky to see a garden (European) mole.

They rarely come above ground, but the evidence of the activity of a solitary mole can spread far and wide as a mole tunnel system can cover 100 – 1000 square metres.

Moles create extensive networks of permanent and feeding tunnels, so that’s when you’re most likely notice the effects of garden moles on your property.

Although Azalia Pest does not offer mole control services, but you might find the below information useful.

Appearance

  • 15cm in length. 75–130g in weight.
  • Slate–grey ‘velvety’ fur.
  • Short palm–like front feet used for digging. Also known as common or northern mole.

Life Cycle

  • 1 litter per year with 3–4 young.

Habits

  • Feeds on earthworms, insect larvae and slugs.
  • Present on most ground below an altitude of 1000m. Disfigures lawns with hills, damages farm machinery, e.g. combine harvesters, by throwing up stones.
  • Livestock may injure their legs in mole tunnels.
  • Solitary apart from breeding season, between spring and summer months.

Common Bird Species

Many of the bird species in Kenya are good to have around, thanks to their attractive plumage and birdsong. However, some birds can become a serious nuisance in the wrong locations, especially the Indian Myna bird.

Learn more below about common types of pest birds found across the country.

Pigeons

(Columba livia)

Also known as city doves or street pigeons, they are descended from wild rock doves. They thrive in an urban environment and only require the smallest amount of shelter on buildings.

Appearance

  • 32cm long.
  • Blue—grey in colour (although other colours are common).

Lifecycle

  • 2 – 3 broods per year, with 2 eggs in each clutch.
  • 17 – 19 day incubation period.
  • Young birds spend 35 – 37 days in the nest.

Habits

  • Feeds on seeds, green feed, domestic scraps in and around cities, near roosting sites.
  • Nests on ledges.

Seagulls

(Family – Laridae)

Gulls are often found in coastal towns and cities. Only a small number are recognised as being pest birds, such as Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae), the Lesser black–backed gull (Larus fuscus) and the Herring gull (Larus argentatus).

Appearance

  • Silver Gulls have a white head, tail and underparts, with a light grey back and black-tipped wings.
  • In adult birds the bill, legs and eye-rings are bright orange-red.
  • Identification of gulls can be difficult due to seasonal variations in their plumage.

Lifecycle

  • 1 brood per year, with 3 eggs in each clutch.
  • 25 day incubation period.
  • Young birds spend 35 – 42 days in the nest.

Habits

  • Feed away from their roosting sites; omnivorous.
  • Nests on cliffs and buildings.

House Sparrow

(Passer domesticus)

The House sparrow is a significant pest to the food industry because of the risk of contamination from their droppings and the damage done to packaged goods.

Appearance

  • Less than 15cm long.
  • Males can be identified by the grey crown on their heads, and black throat ‘bib’.
  • Females and young are mostly plain brown.

Lifecycle

  • Sparrows live for four to seven years, with up to five breeding seasons.
  • The breeding season runs through Spring and Summer, and up to three broods of 4–6 eggs may be laid in this time.

Habits

  • The same nest will tend to be used every year, resulting in a build up of nest debris, and insects associated with their nests.
  • It is a pest to the food industry in particular because of the risk of contamination from their droppings and the damage done to packaged goods.

Indian Myna

(Acridotheres tristis)

The Indian Myna is native to the southern and southern-east Asia and was introduced in Kenya in the 1900’s, originating from captive birds that escaped from Durban. In some cases these birds are beneficial in combatting insect pests, particularly plague locusts. Since then their numbers have continued to increase throughout Kenya, and they have become known as a pest bird due to their increasing population in urban areas.

Appearance

  • 250mm in size.
  • Brown and white in colour with a dark green neck area.
  • Yellow beak and legs.

Lifecycle

  • Average lifespan of four years in the wild, possibly over 12 years.
  • The breed 4-5 glossy pale blue eggs in spring and summer.

Habits

  • Feed on insects but on food scraps also.
  • Nests in roof cavities, palm trees and sheltered areas.

Starlings

(Sturnus vulgaris)

Appearance

  • They are 20-23cm long, and can be recognised by their pointed wings and short tail when flying. At first sight they appear to be plain black, but the feathers catch the light and may appear iridescent green or purple.

Lifecycle

  • Starlings can rear up to two broods a year, in September and October. Each clutch usually consists of 4–6 eggs, the young staying in the nest for about 3 weeks.
  • Breeding can extend into November and December if conditions are favourable.

Habits

  • The concentration of droppings from a large roosting flock provides a good medium for pathogenic fungi, some of which can be harmful or even fatal to humans.
  • It is an agricultural pest of standing crops, but will also flock into cities in large numbers.

Common Bird Species

Many of the bird species in Kenya are good to have around, thanks to their attractive plumage and birdsong. However, some birds can become a serious nuisance in the wrong locations, especially the Indian Myna bird.

Learn more below about common types of pest birds found across the country.

Pigeons

(Columba livia)

Also known as city doves or street pigeons, they are descended from wild rock doves. They thrive in an urban environment and only require the smallest amount of shelter on buildings.

Appearance

  • 32cm long.
  • Blue—grey in colour (although other colours are common).

Lifecycle

  • 2 – 3 broods per year, with 2 eggs in each clutch.
  • 17 – 19 day incubation period.
  • Young birds spend 35 – 37 days in the nest.

Habits

  • Feeds on seeds, green feed, domestic scraps in and around cities, near roosting sites.
  • Nests on ledges.

Seagulls

(Family – Laridae)

Gulls are often found in coastal towns and cities. Only a small number are recognised as being pest birds, such as Silver Gull (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae), the Lesser black–backed gull (Larus fuscus) and the Herring gull (Larus argentatus).

Appearance

  • Silver Gulls have a white head, tail and underparts, with a light grey back and black-tipped wings.
  • In adult birds the bill, legs and eye-rings are bright orange-red.
  • Identification of gulls can be difficult due to seasonal variations in their plumage.

Lifecycle

  • 1 brood per year, with 3 eggs in each clutch.
  • 25 day incubation period.
  • Young birds spend 35 – 42 days in the nest.

Habits

  • Feed away from their roosting sites; omnivorous.
  • Nests on cliffs and buildings.

House Sparrow

(Passer domesticus)

The House sparrow is a significant pest to the food industry because of the risk of contamination from their droppings and the damage done to packaged goods.

Appearance

  • Less than 15cm long.
  • Males can be identified by the grey crown on their heads, and black throat ‘bib’.
  • Females and young are mostly plain brown.

Lifecycle

  • Sparrows live for four to seven years, with up to five breeding seasons.
  • The breeding season runs through Spring and Summer, and up to three broods of 4–6 eggs may be laid in this time.

Habits

  • The same nest will tend to be used every year, resulting in a build up of nest debris, and insects associated with their nests.
  • It is a pest to the food industry in particular because of the risk of contamination from their droppings and the damage done to packaged goods.

Indian Myna

(Acridotheres tristis)

The Indian Myna is native to the southern and southern-east Asia and was introduced in Kenya in the 1900’s, originating from captive birds that escaped from Durban. In some cases these birds are beneficial in combatting insect pests, particularly plague locusts. Since then their numbers have continued to increase throughout Kenya, and they have become known as a pest bird due to their increasing population in urban areas.

Appearance

  • 250mm in size.
  • Brown and white in colour with a dark green neck area.
  • Yellow beak and legs.

Lifecycle

  • Average lifespan of four years in the wild, possibly over 12 years.
  • The breed 4-5 glossy pale blue eggs in spring and summer.

Habits

  • Feed on insects but on food scraps also.
  • Nests in roof cavities, palm trees and sheltered areas.

Starlings

(Sturnus vulgaris)

Appearance

  • They are 20-23cm long, and can be recognised by their pointed wings and short tail when flying. At first sight they appear to be plain black, but the feathers catch the light and may appear iridescent green or purple.

Lifecycle

  • Starlings can rear up to two broods a year, in September and October. Each clutch usually consists of 4–6 eggs, the young staying in the nest for about 3 weeks.
  • Breeding can extend into November and December if conditions are favourable.

Habits

  • The concentration of droppings from a large roosting flock provides a good medium for pathogenic fungi, some of which can be harmful or even fatal to humans.
  • It is an agricultural pest of standing crops, but will also flock into cities in large numbers.