Don't poison the grubs just to catch the moles

Backyard Q&A

there are better ways

In The Garden

July 11, 2004|By Jon Traunfeld & Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld & Ellen Nibali,Special to the Sun

I am having a terrible problem with mole tunnels in my lawn, which indicates an infestation of grubs. Which is the most effective grub killer?

Grub control is no guarantee for controlling moles. Moles will simply eat worms and juicy insects. Do not apply grub killers to your lawn unless you confirm that you have an actual white grub infestation (6-8 grubs per square foot). Count by lifting the sod in late summer. (Spring grubs are full-grown and do no damage.) A few grubs are considered normal. Grub-control products are toxic to many beneficial organisms that your lawn needs to be healthy. (See our publication HG 78, "The Japanese Beetle," which covers grub control and the recommended chemicals.)

Moles need to be controlled with harpoon traps, which are found in hardware stores and garden centers. The key is targeting the active tunnels. Tamp down the tunnels in your yard and install the trap over a tunnel that was raised again. You will also need some persistence.

A vine is rampaging over my shrubs. It has triangular leaves and nasty, tiny barbs that hurt. Help!

You have asked not a moment too soon, because mile-a-minute vine is producing its berries right now. This aptly named plant is a non-native invasive, which has been spreading through Maryland for some years. It mushroomed with last year's ample rains. The good news is that it is an annual plant with a puny root system. You can easily pull it out by the root (use gloves) and compost the whole thing. However, any of their bright blue berries should be disposed of in the trash. They fall off at a light touch. Avoid letting berries fall to the ground, or you will have even more mile-a-minute vines next year.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information and answers to plant and pest questions. Call its hot line at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail questions to (You can also download or order publications and diagnose plant problems online.)


1. Plant a late crop of cucumbers for a steady supply all summer.

2. Don't use water from your pool to irrigate garden plants. The water may contain harmful amounts of chlorine and other chemicals.

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