You’ve got moles!

I have something is pushing up my grass in all sorts of curvy lines.  It is also making piles of dirt.  The dirt is just there like a hill.  There is no hole.  I was told it was a mole.  How to I get rid of it as simply as possible?

The word is “moles,” not mole.  There are two different kinds in your lawn.  But this is not unusual.

The Eastern mole puts tunnels right below the surface.  The star-nosed mole makes the piles of soil as it pushes up an air vent from below.

Getting rid of moles is not simple or easy.  They are supreme rulers of their dimension. The best tool to have is a lawn roller that you can add water to for weight.  The goal is to flatten the tunnels but not leave ruts or ditches.

The Eastern mole does not eat roots.  It just lifts the roots up when passing under and the roots dry out hanging over an empty space. Ninety percent of the tunnels are used once to find earthworm snacks and never used again.  So a once- or twice-a-week flattening will keep most soil level.

The tunnels that pop up after 24 hours are like the expressways; they get used often.  If you decide to set traps it would be on an expressway where there is regular mole traffic.

The mounds of soil pushed up by the star-nosed mole are best handled by raking the excess soil into the surrounding lawn.  Just make sure that the grass is not buried and the addition of soil is not above a half inch.

Your choices for mole murder are going to be only for the Eastern moles where you can get to a tunnel.  The star-nosed tunnels are 6-12 inches deep. Eighty percent of their diets are earthworms; the other 20 percent are soil insects and grubs.

Available are traps, poisoned baits and repellants.  Be aware that some of the baits have been dug up and eaten by dogs and the dogs have died.

Repellants like Mole Med and Scoot Mole work well in smaller areas like flower beds.  Of the traps, the best two are the choker loop and the scissors traps.  Start with the roller and that may be good enough.

Every year, I plant 30 flats of impatiens on my wooded property.  I just went out and looked at them and almost all of them are dead or dying.  The leaves are yellow or fell off.  Mostly, there are just stems.  I did not do anything.  What happened?

I absolve you of all guilt, unless you can control diseases or humid air.  This is a fungal disease called downy mildew.  It is very different than powdery mildew.  This fungal disease can only damage and kill impatiens.  But it does not affect the New Guinea impatiens.

There is no treatment.  The symptoms come on hard and fast.  They are: yellow or pale green leaves that curl downward and many fall off.  There are few, if any, flowers and the bottoms of the leaves have white fuzz on them.  Plants may be stunted.

The disease is enabled by high humidity and warm temperatures.

Downy mildew is also found in Canada, Asia, Europe and India as well as the U.S.  It first appeared in the U.S. in 1942 and there have been periodic outbreaks.  It was found on the southwest side of Michigan about a month ago.

You cannot prevent or cure downy mildew on impatiens.  Do not put the diseased plants in compost bins or other places where they will not freeze over the winter.  The unfrozen tissue can start it up next year if there is impatiens in the area.

The disease floats from southern states or heated greenhouses that have downy mildew so it is not about anything in your soil.  It could be unfrozen plant parts.  Because of the speed of the disease, you did not buy them infected.

To paraphrase: disease happens. Just because you have been lucky, does not guarantee that you will always be lucky.  Try 30 flats of New Guinea impatiens or some other shade-loving flower.

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