Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moles And Myths: Are They Friends Or Foes?

Date:
June 9, 2004
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
That mole is burrowing along under your grass and through your garden, but is there any redeeming value to the critter's industrious search for an earthworm meal?

The star-nosed mole is found mainly in the Western United States. In Indiana, where some inhabit the northern part of the state, they are an endangered species. If one is found, the Indiana Department of Natural resources should be notified immediately.
Credit: Image courtesy of Purdue University

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - That mole is burrowing along under your grass and through your garden, but is there any redeeming value to the critter's industrious search for an earthworm meal?

Related Articles


"Most people don't realize that moles are not rodents, but insectivores," said Tim Gibb of Purdue University's Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory. "Their diet consists of small invertebrate animals - insects and worms - that live underground. Ninety percent of their food is earthworms."

Moles perform some useful tasks, including helping to aerate soil and eating some insects that are pests to plants, he said. They do not eat bulbs or garden plant roots.

While moles will eat grubs, the old tale that grubs will attract moles is not true, said Gibb, who is also a Purdue Turfgrass Integrated Pest Management team member.

"We only have grubs for a certain portion of the year, generally in the fall," he said. "So we know moles are feeding on something else for the most part."

Since moles are mainly interested in chowing on earthworms, they follow them, Gibb said. When the ground is wet and not frozen, earthworms tend to be just under the top layer of soil, so moles dig the tunnels they use to hunt for food in the same areas. This causes long humps that are easily seen. When the ground dries out in summer and freezes in winter, earthworms go deeper and the moles follow.

The high-metabolism, furry creatures are only 6-8 inches long and are eating and active year-round, day and night. Moles use their strong forearms with front-facing paws and long, sharp claws to dig as much as 100 feet of tunnel per day in their quest for food.

The silvery-gray, almost down-soft animals live underground their entire lives except for a brief period when they first enter adulthood and leave the nest to find their own homes. Since they are subterranean, moles' keen senses of smell, hearing and touch compensate for their near blindness.

The moles' underground lifestyle increases the difficulty of halting their destruction of manicured lawns and gardens, Gibb said. But because males are quite territorial, usually not more than two or three moles will be in the same area except when a female has a nest of young.

Broods of three to five young are born in the spring after a four-week gestation period. The mother cares for them for four or five weeks in a nest that is 4-16 inches underground.

Although most people consider them pests, moles are fascinating creatures because they are among the oldest mammals, Gibb said.

A member of the mammal order of Insectivora, commonly called insectivores, moles developed in North America about 100 million years ago during the cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era. It's believed that moles developed even earlier in Europe before migrating.

Many mammals eat insects and other invertebrates, but insectivores are the only order that feeds almost entirely on them, Gibb said.

The order of Insectivora now includes six living families with about 400 species spread throughout most of the world, except for Australia and the northernmost part of South America. These include shrews and hedgehogs. Moles live in Europe, Asia and North America and are found mainly in woodland areas.

Gibb said the moles common to Indiana are mainly the Eastern species that has a long, thin snout. Star-nosed moles also are found in northern Indiana, but these tend to be more common in the western United States.

But despite the differences among species, all moles share the same loves - insects, worms and digging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Moles And Myths: Are They Friends Or Foes?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040609070807.htm>.
Purdue University. (2004, June 9). Moles And Myths: Are They Friends Or Foes?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040609070807.htm
Purdue University. "Moles And Myths: Are They Friends Or Foes?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040609070807.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uphill Battle to Tackle Indonesian Shark Fishing

Uphill Battle to Tackle Indonesian Shark Fishing

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Sharks are hauled ashore every day at a busy market on the central Indonesian island of Lombok, the hub of a booming trade that provides a livelihood for local fishermen but is increasingly alarming environmentalists. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins