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Moles, Voles & Grubs: 3 Common Lawn Pests & How to Chase Them Away


If you ask Dorothy or the Scarecrow to name the scariest trio of creatures, they’d tell you lions, tigers and bears, oh my.

But ask any Wisconsin or Minnesota lawn lover and they’ll tell you moles, voles and grubs. Oh, man.

These three common lawn pests can really do a number on your healthy green lawn, in different destructive ways.

How to tell if they’re out there? What kind of damage do they do? How to get rid of them?

Put down the mallet and let’s take a look:

First Up, Say Hey to Mr. Mole

Actually, you’d rather not.

These little members of the shrew family don’t look that impressive. They can barely even see. But check out those big claws on their paddle-shaped feet. They’re little digging, tunneling machines.

Mole in Lawn (CC)

You may never actually see the lawn moles that invaded your yard, (fine with you, right?) but you’ll definitely notice the raised tunnels crisscrossing your lawn and the volcano-shaped mounds they create.

These signs of mole damage are the biggest clues you have a mole problem. Those raised ridges are caused by the mole tunneling just below the surface of the ground.

The cone-shaped molehills are the dirt they excavate as they dig deeper tunnels around their dens.

Moles in lawns don’t actually kill your grass but they sure wreck the look of your lawn — and all that digging destroys plant roots and bulbs.

If they expose enough dirt from all that digging, you’ll need to plant grass seed.

They pose a hazard, too — you might step into a soft spot they’ve created and sink into the ground — or twist your ankle.

Moles in Lawns: Why Do They Show Up?

They’re hungry, and you’re probably offering a mole buffet of worms, grubs, and insects. Moles gobble up 90 percent of their weight in bugs every day.

How to Get Rid of Moles in Lawns?

Everybody and their brother has a mole treatment idea, from spraying the tunnels with castor oil to spreading coffee grounds to luring them with poison gummy worms to setting traps that spear them.

Read Our Guide to Lawn Care in Minnesota & Wisconsin

Organic, granular pellets that repel moles often do the trick. The pellets, once wet, create a barrier that moles don’t like. So, they stay away. Moles often hit the road the same day.

But our best advice is to contact a company that specializes in live trapping moles. Let the pros handle this one. Moles are kind of creepy.

Moles Vs. Voles: What’s Up with Voles?

You won’t notice a vole invasion as much as a mole move-in.

Voles are smaller, mouselike rodents, and while they dig, it isn’t as obvious. Voles dig short, shallow burrows and make underground nests of grass, stems, and leaves.

Unlike moles, voles are herbivores and feed on plants.

Vole in Lawn (CC)

Voles aren’t typically a huge issue around here. In the spring they sometimes eat the top of grass but it grows back.

You’re more likely to see vole damage to trees and shrubs, where they’ve gnawed on roots and bark.

How to get rid of voles? Same with moles — repellents or live trapping are your best bets.

Villain Number 3: Gross Grubs

We know what you’re thinking. If you keep a couple cute moles as outdoor pets, they’ll eat all your grubs. Grub problem solved! But then you’re back to having a mole problem and you don’t want to be part of this vicious cycle.

Grub Damage in Lawns: How Bad Is It?

Unlike moles and voles, grubs really can totally destroy your lawn. They’re the smallest of our trio of lawn villains, but they’re the worst.

Grub damage can be devastating to your lawn.

Grubs are the larvae of Japanese beetles, June beetles, chafers, and other beetles.

These white, C-shaped grubs have soft, squishy bodies with legs near their head. They feed on grass roots and organic matter in the soil, causing sections of grass in the lawn to die.


And you never see it coming. Grubs silently eat the roots right out from under the grass.

How do you know if your lawn damage is from grubs? Look for these telltale signs of grub damage in lawns:

  • Raccoons, skunks, and birds rummaging in your yard. Grubs are good grub.
  • Grab a handful of your lawn and tug. If it rolls up like loose carpet, you probably have grubs. They eat the roots holding the turf firmly in place on the soil.
  • Walk on your lawn. If it feels spongy, you could have grubs.

Catching the signs of grub damage early can help you avoid costly lawn repairs.

How to Prevent Grub Damage in Lawns

Timing is everything. Prevention is your best bet. The key to controlling grubs is to kill them before they hatch and begin to cause damage to your lawn.

Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle.

The beetles lay their eggs in your lawn’s soil. Then the grubs hatch and start chowing down. They eat and grow until fall, then burrow deeper into the soil to wait out the winter.

lawn care technician spreading granular product on a front yard

Then, in spring, when the soil warms up, the mature grubs emerge, and transform into adult beetles that start the process all over again.

You can see the problem — and the need for grub control each year.

At RainMaster, we apply Grub Guard grub control right away in the spring during our first visit.

Then, you’re all set. Our product lasts throughout the entire growing season to prevent grub damage in lawns.

Not all grub control lasts that long. Some products are weakened by the time a second wave of hungry grubs occurs in the fall.

Grub Guard is like getting insurance. You don’t know for sure you’ll get grubs. But better to keep them away than risk your beautiful lawn.

Your best bet for grub control: choose a complete, proactive lawn care program Mention program that includes Grub Guard to keep the slimy pests away.

Ready to Give Common Lawn Pests the Boot? Trust RainMaster

If moles or voles are causing you grief, we advise looking up professionals to live trap the invaders. That’s what we do when we have a mole problem.

nice front lawn at a minnesota home

But we’re experts at getting rid of grubs. Take away grubs, and you reduce the chances that moles will come sniffing around. They do eat other bugs, so it’s not a total mole solution.

Lawn care in Minneapolis, MN & Eau Claire, WI means preventing grubs, to keep your healthy green lawn from getting ruined.

Let’s create a custom nutrition plan for your lawn, so while grub control keeps the sinister slime-balls away, the roots will be nourished, the soil packed with nutrients, and your grass thick and healthy to give weeds a tough fight.

Are you ready to stop worrying about grubs destroying your lawn in Eau Claire, WI or the Minneapolis area? Request a quote today! We’ll review your options together so you can make a great choice. Then, you can finally enjoy your lawn and stop worrying about it.

Image Sources | Mole in Lawn, Vole, Grub

Topics: Lawn Care, Pest Control

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