Dealing with Moles, Voles, Japanese Beetles, and Grubs

When maintaining a lawn, dealing with pests becomes an inevitable task. Among them, moles, grubs, voles, and Japanese beetles are among the most obstructive of lawn pests found throughout the country.

Moles and voles are mammals that dig underground, causing damage to plant and grass roots. Although they sound similar to the other, they are unrelated. Grubs are actually the larvae of Japanese beetles and cause significant damage on their own. All four are garden and lawn pests that can create havoc on your lawns if they're not stopped.

Step 1: Identification

The first step in getting rid of these pests from your lawn is to make sure you know how to identify them.

Moles are medium-sized mammals that look similar to shrews, but with noticeably larger paws and fingernails which they use to burrow underground. Moles are able to carve tunnels that are deep, but weak, as they can easily collapse from stepping on top of them. In their wake, they leave small ""volcanoes"" of soil at the ends of tunnels, making their presence easy to identify.

Moles also feed on grubs, so finding and identifying the tunnels is usually good indicator that grubs may also be around.

Voles look similar to field mice, only slightly stouter and with shorter tails. Voles also build tunnels, but they are mostly on the surface and not underground. Instead of mounds of soil, tunnels by voles are more like piles of dead grass. This is because voles feed on plants, which is why you will sometimes see nibbled plants around the ends of vole tunnels.

Step 2: Eradication

Once you've successfully identified the type of pest you're dealing with, it's time to start finding ways to get rid of them.

  • To get rid of moles, you may want to start by getting rid of Japanese beetle grubs. If you prefer using organic control methods, milky spores are one option in getting rid of grubs. Essentially, a bacterial disease is spread around the lawn while the grubs are actively feeding. You can find out the exact timing from a local cooperative extension for trapping moles in your area.
  • If you want to take the chemical route, products like Grub-X and other chemicals can be utilized. Make sure to read the label for instructions and care. Cats are also quite effective in deterring the presence of moles on your lawn.
  • To get rid of voles, you should start by checking the regulations in your area for vole control. In some places, voles are actually a protected species. Countries like Germany have laws that prevent just anyone from killing voles on their own.
  • If it is legal to kill voles in your area, you can place vole traps above their tunnels to get rid of them. You can also use repellents to deter voles from eating your garden. This method doesn't actually kill voles, but they do make plants undesirable to eat, which helps keep them away.
  • To get rid of Japanese beetles, try planting flowers and plants they don't like. Some examples are garden balsam, buttercups, lilacs, and oaks.There are also insecticides that can be applied to susceptible plants to keep Japanese beetles away.
  • Avoid using pheromone traps against Japanese beetles. While these do kill large amounts of beetles, they also unnecessarily attract beetles from far beyond your yard.
  • Grub-X and milky spores are effective ways to get rid of the larvae of Japanese beetles, or grubs.
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