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Moles, Grubs and Japanese Beetles – They’re connected – How to banish perennial pests

I’ve got troubles and I have to admit I feel a little silly that it has taken me so long to sort them out.

I’ll start at the beginning.  Two springs ago my front lawn didn’t come back after the winter.  And not only was it completely dead, it felt funny to walk over (weirdly squishy and slippy at the same time).

What The Heck!   I dug, and really didn’t see anything until I dug at the edges of the deadness.  Grubs!

I was in a bit of denial though because to be honest, I’ve seen greater infestations with less damage so I surmised that something else must be going on.

Wrong.  I had grubs and moles…bad.

Now the whole thing has moved to the lawn area on the other side of the driveway but this time it is more obvious what is going on.  Not only do I have a sweeping army of grubs, but they are attracting a herd of moles that are enjoying the grub feast.

My first thought was that my problem might be solved naturally….moles eat grubs, grubs go away then moles go away??

With this theory in mind, I’ve observed for yet another season.  While moles do eat grubs – they aren’t eating them all.  And the idea that my problem would solve itself, well, that doesn’t seem to be working as I thought. In the mean time, I’ve got a lawn that looks like this.

mole in grass www.pithandvigor.com

I twisted my ankle in a mole hole last week and now my patience for nature to take over, is over.  And so too is my penchant for scientific observation (nearly breaking my ankle makes me lose patience for lots of things).

I bought  milky spore powder (apply as described on the package – spoonfuls every 4 ft) and for extra measure I put down a few Solar Powered Mole and Gopher Sonic Spikes.

Milky spore powder is a bacteria that only effects Japanese Beetles (for which grubs are the larvae).  It is organic, and does not harm beneficial insects or leave anything to harm you, your kids, pets or the environment.  I love that kind of garden solution.

I am planning to treat once now and then again in the fall since that is when grubs eat the most.  Once the spore is in their system it will infect generations of grubs to come (at least that is the theroy).  So by next spring I should see a huge improvement not just in my grass with less grubs, but also to have less Japanese beetles eating my trees and less moles digging everything up.

mole and grub solutionWhile I wait to have this ecological cycle broken (it can take a couple years),  I am thinking that the Solar Powered Mole and Gopher spike is doing something good in the short term.

I haven’t seen a new mole trail since I put it in.

I am hoping that it will also bug the daylights out of whatever is eating the roots of my hostas (is it possible I also have vole problem?!?)  (UPDATE 2021 – yes, I also have a vole problem) and maybe, just maybe, it will be the last straw for the woodchuck family that lives under the chicken coop?   I hope, but I am not holding my breath.

Update – May 2021:

This post was originally written in 2013 and the milky spore powder solution applied in 2013 worked very well in my garden (though not 100% – I’d estimate around 85-90%) for easily 7-8 years.  It is 2021 now and I’ve seen a slow increase (though still nowhere near the levels prior to my first application) in grub and mole activity over the last few years so I am planning another application this year.

I still struggle with voles – though their destruction waxes and wanes and I am not sure I fully understand why yet.  I’m working on this nuisance.

How do you know if you have moles or  voles?  Voles are Vegetarians Moles eat Meat. See what I did there? V-V and M-M (this is how I remember which are which)  And by meat, I mean grubs.  Vegetarians (Voles) eat roots and kill plants from the bottom up.  You’ll notice one day that a healthy plant is suddenly falling over and you might want to straighten it and when touch it, it will just come right out of the ground – because it has no roots.

What hasn’t worked for the voles?  So far I’ve spent a dear few dollars on castor oil and also I’ve spread a good amount of dirty cat litter over the vole holes.  I can’t tell if any of it is doing any good – I don’t think it is.  I’m still losing whole shrubs over the winters.  I’ll update this again if I find a good solution.

The woodchuck no longer lives under the shed – he upgraded, copulated, and now lives with his large family under the much bigger barn.  We are still butting heads and trying to come to a truce.

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