Blessed are the blind. . .

By Mir
September 16, 2006

… for they shall not see me attempting to blow them up.

Hi! How are you today? I’m just fine. What’s that? Oh, it’s been a pretty standard day, really. I got up, took a shower, went to soccer, made plans with a friend, came home, checked my email, had some lunch, spent some time organizing my basement, and went outside and set my lawn on fire.


Oh, like you’ve NEVER DONE THAT.

What? You… haven’t? Oh.

Okay, then.

Hey! Look over there! Something SHINY!

[Oh, now would probably be a good time to thank y’all for weighing in on the bed issue. Thanks! King wins by a landslide, unless I give greater weight to Otto’s comment, which really I would, except that he voted for a TWIN. Therefore his opinion is discounted on account of his being very cute and all, but crazy.]


I have a little problem. It’s sort of embarrassing, you know, so I haven’t wanted to talk about it. I always thought I wasn’t the sort of person who could find myself facing this kind of issue. I’ve always been really careful. But here I am, and I’m trying not to be ashamed.

I have moles.

There, I said it! Go ahead, laugh! I bet YOUR lawn is beautiful and pristine, and not dotted with mounds of fresh earth every five feet. And if you HAD noticed a few mounds of dirt, say, a month ago, you probably would’ve known what they were RIGHT AWAY and not just gone “huh” and continued on with your life until the mounds of dirt were suddenly everywhere, because “huh” turns out to be the international password for COMMENCE HAVING WILD PROCREATIVE MOLE SEX HERE IN MY YARD. In my professional estimation (yes, I am a professional rodent tallier, didn’t you know?), my humble acre is now home to approximately eighty billion moles. There may be some rounding error, but that’s pretty close.

So I consulted with Otto (“Go to Home Despot and ask them what to buy to kill them,” “Wait, I have a better idea! You come up here and take care of it for me!” “Ummmm…” “Wow, the magic’s gone. You won’t even come up here to take care of my moles. Bastard.”) and headed off to The Big Orange Store in search of a little box labelled “Mole Death.”

(There is no such box. In case you were wondering.)

The kids were with me, so it was a beautiful opportunity to talk about the Circle of Life.

[Chickadee: But why do you have to KILL them?
Monkey: Poor molies!
Me: They’re killing the lawn. It’s okay, there’s a million of them.
Chickadee: Why can’t you just ask them to go somewhere else?
Monkey: Yeah!
Me: Um, I tried that already. They declined.
Monkey: Poor molies!
Me: Um, they also eat… bikes. And scooters. And sometimes swingsets.
Chickadee: KILL THE MOLES!
Me: … and little boys.

I narrowed it down to two products, neither of which had any sort of price labelling. One looked like a box of gummy worms, and claimed to be advanced rodent bait capable of killing off an entire colony. The other was a box of firecracker-looking smoke bomb things.

After wandering the store with both items for about three hours, I found an employee.

Me: Hi, I’m trying to decide which of these to buy. Can you help me?
Him: Let me see… oh. Heh. No, I really can’t. I have no idea.
Me: Uhhhhh okay. Can you find someone who can help me?
Him: Maybe. Let’s go ask over here.
*we walk halfway across the store to another guy*
Him: Hey, do you know anything about these things?
Second Guy: Nope. No idea.
Me: So much for that whole “all of our employees know about our products” thing, huh?
Him: Sorry.
Me: Okay, well, could you at least scan the boxes so I know how much they cost?
Him: Sure! That’s easy!

He then spent 15 minutes trying to figure out how to get his scanner to work.

Final analysis? The gummy worms cost three times what the smoke bombs cost. Smoke bombs it is!

The smoke bombs sat on my kitchen counter for a while, because I wasn’t looking forward to using them, and I CERTAINLY didn’t want to use them while the kids were around. But today was the day. I headed outside with my smoke bombs, a shovel, and some matches, directions clamped firmly in my hands.

Rodent Smoke Bomb

An effective, quick and reliable control product for gophers, moles, woodchucks, rats, skunks, and ground squirrels. The smoke will penetrate deeply into tunnels to do the job.

I cannot decide what I find most disturbing about this. The fact that it says “to do the job” rather than “kill, maim and destroy,” or the idea that there are squirrels that live in tunnels. Squirrels are creepy enough in the trees, thanks.

DIRECTIONS FOR USE: It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.

Really? Because I was totally going to use them to create hazy graveyard ambience at my next Halloween party, but now that I know it’s a federal crime, I guess I won’t. Unless some ground squirrels show up.

Insert cartridges into burrow, fuse end first, immediately after fuse is lit.

Fuse end first? What if it really IS a firecracker and it comes barrelling out of the hole and it shoots my eye out? Also, I was really hoping to dance around the yard with it for a while before stuffing it into the hole, and feel somewhat sad, now.

Do not hold burning cartridges in your hand.

Ever? How do I light it and put it in the hole if I don’t hold it…?

Cover hole with a flat rock and step to the side of hole. DO NOT STAND BEHIND THE HOLE.

I am fresh out of flat rocks. Crap. However, my confusion over that was quickly forgotten as I realized that I CLEARLY do not understand the anatomy of a hole in the ground. WHICH WAY IS THE SIDE? WHERE IS BEHIND? I am completely unconvinced that I know where to stand. Silly me, I thought a hole in the ground did not have sides and a front and a back. I don’t want to stand behind it (in violation of federal law!) but I. don’t. know. which. is. behind.

Do not use cartridges where vegetation is dry and likely to catch fire.

Yeah… um… see, when I asked the moles to leave and they said no, I asked them to please stick to the wettest parts of the yard, at least, and they said no to that, too. Moles can be such assholes.


Wait. Weren’t those just the directions? That I just read?? Or I am supposed to use the foregoing directions with extreme caution…?

1. Read this instruction sheet and understand the specific directions for the type of animal you intend to control.

Good advice. I’d hate to go after the moles and end up being responsible for the death of a cheetah somewhere.

2. Carefully pull fuse out from under the rubber band. Push fuse all the way back into the cartridge.

But… then… what do I light…?

3. Have a board, garbage can cover, or large flat rock handy for covering the hole. It is recommended that safety glasses, gloves, and a long sleeve shirt be worn.

Garbage can covers! Brilliant. Solves the shortage of flat rocks, at least. Let’s see. I’m wearing… glasses. And, um, a shirt. That’ll work.

4. Test the hole to make sure it is wide enough and deep enough for the cartridge.

4a. Even if the hole is wide enough and deep enough, chances are excellent that you’ll manage to insert it at a funny angle while it’s sparking and smoking and you’re flipping out thinking you’re about to burn off a couple of fingers. Should this happen, whack the cartridge with a shovel. It will make you feel better.

5. Light the fuse and immediately insert cartridge fuse end first into burrow and cover the hole to trap the smoke. Stand to the side of the hole. Never stand behind the ignited cartridge.

God, here we go with THIS again. WHICH WAY IS BEHIND when we’re talking about a HOLE IN THE GROUND? Will this be easier to ascertain with a compass?

Be certain your face is not near the ignited cartridge.

5a. If you put your face near the ignited cartridge, you’re too stupid to use this product.

The minimum fuse burn time is 5 seconds.

5b. Just kidding! If you push the fuse back up inside like we told you to? The minimum fuse burn time is 1 second! Hahaha!

Try to avoid breathing cartridge smoke.

5c. See 5a. Moron.

6. The effectiveness of this product will be limited under conditions of dry or porous soil, which permit the escape of toxic gases from treated burrows.

Well then, let me just go right ahead and order up different soil conditions than what ATTRACTED THE MOLES IN THE FIRST PLACE so that your product will work better.

The booklet then has separate sections on treating each kind of vermin. In the section on moles, it says to treat main runways, which can be located by looking for “a series of fresh conical mounds of dirt.” Right. My ENTIRE LAWN is a series of fresh conical mounds of dirt. Apparently my DRIVEWAY is the main runway.

Eventually it was time to actually light the things. So I did. They scared the crap out of me and sputtered and smoked and I held each garbage can lid down with my trusty shovel while thick, yellow smoke bloomed from underneath the edges of the lids. I’m not convinced it smoked any further than the edge of each hole.

Except for that one where the grass caught on fire, a little bit. Because I foolishly felt the need to beat the flaming grass with my shovel before putting the lid down over the top, THAT one gave off a ton of smoke that was then carried on the breeze, up and away. I fully expected squirrel carcasses to start raining from the trees. Sadly, all that happened was I saw one of my neighbors peeking at me like I was doing something insane in my front yard.

Which, I guess, I was.


  1. Elleana

    So, um, what do you do with the moles once they are, um, expired? I mean, do they start to rot, right there in their mole holes? I guess it’s like they’re buried and all, but will the holes start to smell? Like rotting moles? Or maybe they just move on because of the smoke damage?

    I hope you are rid of your moles soon. And thank goodness we haven’t had any such thing here because I don’t think I could handle it. It kinda freaks me out – a whole mammal world beneath the ground I walk on – yikes.

  2. carolyn

    My ex-husband had moles in his yard one time. The cat next door to him became his best friend, because the cat took care of the moles. Circle of life, you know.

  3. shannon

    MIR! There are these little worm like things my parents bought that you put in the hole. The moles eat them because they are worm like and smell good. Then the moles die. I will ask Dad what the name of the things are. I will then email you. They do cost quite a bit, but worth it, from what my folks say.

  4. shannon

    or i could read the entire post and see you found out what they were already…although they say the worms are the best (the parents do)

  5. Judy

    HAHAHA!! The yard of the house I lived in growing up (that my mom is just now trying to sell, *meeeemooorieeesss, like the coorners of my miiiind . . . ) had moles for awhile. At the time, we had a fox terrier who liked to “hunt” for the moles which was hysterical — he would get on his belly and put his nose pretty much in the mounds of dirt and sniff and snort away. Cuuuute.

    Then we got rid of one of his sources of entertainment. Poor dog.

  6. Vaguely Urban

    I’ve heard the expression “he doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.” I’m hoping it doesn’t apply to those of us who are confused as to where the “back” of a hole is, because that’s one brush with which I’d be tarred.

  7. Melissa

    Yeah. When I first saw mounds of dirt in our yard, I wondered how the kids had done that. Then when there were more, I thought maybe the original ones had moved somehow (crazy kids!). And when we finally realized they were moles, we bought one of those sonic thingies that you put in the ground. I can’t imagine it actually worked. The moles did stop digging up the yard, but really I think they were just bored with us and moved on to the next eight square feet of backyard in our neighborhood.

  8. Janis

    Ok… it sounds like the whole mole extermination thing was quite an adventure for you and by “adventure’ I mean one huge hassle. Anything that involves a means of ignition, smoke and the potential to catch things on fire is not on my list of fun activities. However I’m sure your new short-but-not-too-short hairstyle held up beautifully under the potentially adverse conditions. That’s probably what the neighbors were saying.

  9. Suebob

    Wait. I am still back on the “do not stand behind the hole” part. Did you stand behind any of the holes? Did the Feds show up?

    I wish I could bring Goldie over. She is a big Killer of All Things That Burrow. The only disadvantage to having a 70 lb dog rid your yard of moles is that then instead of having below-ground mole trenches, you have above-ground trenches too. One time I saw her dig a 25 foot trench. Took about 5 minutes. She is GOOD.

    Don’t get the worms if you can help it. The problem is that the moles eat them but it takes days for them to die. They leave their burrows and get eaten by bigger animals (hawks, owls, coyotes) which in turn get eaten by bigger animals – who end up dying from all the poison. It is really, really bad. We lost 5 of our local mountain lions that way, which is sad (to me, at least).

  10. CeCe

    I worked in a hardware store, and I have my pesticide dispenser certificate, which is REQUIRED by law in my province. I’m totally disgusted that someone at the Depot didn’t help you out by discussing the product with you! Geez Louise! If someone walked out of our store with a pesticde product and didn’t have a licenced person talk to them, the store could be fined over $5000. Cool eh?

  11. Christina

    So glad you stood behind the hole! Wait, was that behind the other hole??? I’m confused….. maybe the moles will be, too!

  12. Susan

    Dammit that was SO FUNNY.

    Oh my. So. Funny.

  13. Aubri

    Mir… you kill me! With, uh… hysterical laughter. Not with mole poison. At any rate, my parents had moles last summer… I think they got them professionally removed. I can’t remember. I wasn’t really living there at the time, and thus was not that concerned with rodent issues.

    Hope the poor molies leave you alone now!

  14. sumo

    I was told an old farmers’ trick to mole elimination is to roll up sticks of Juicy Fruit gum and drop them in the mole holes. The moles are supposed to be attracted to the scent of the gum and supposedly can’t digest it. Of course, Flaming Death sounds much more fun (hey, I’m a guy!), but the gum is a cheap thing to try if you still have some survivors.

  15. rachel

    maybe the reason the gummy worms were more expensive is because they work? At least you got a wonderful story out of this. And you made me literally laugh out loud.

    Glad the kids weren’t there. Hope the moles leave you alone now that they know you mean buisiness.

  16. Suzanne

    I laughed so hard at this story Mir…no really I did.
    Ok, it might have been the wine, or the combination of both,…but you crack me up!

  17. mar

    The thing with the moles is – kill their food supply, then they will leave. 90% of people who have moles also have grubs in their lawn. Next year, for a good long term/season long solution, treat for grubs 3 times early in the year – say early May, June & July. If they don’t have a food source, they’ll move on … maybe only to the neighbors, but they’ll move!

    So says my mother-in-laws lawn guy – and it’s worked for her for years – us too!

  18. Melanie Marie

    OH MY GOD! You are so funny! I almost peed my pants! Raining Squirrels! bwahhhahhh!

  19. Cele

    Okay, here is an old fashioned folk remedy, that old folklore spreaders swears works. Buy some of those wirlie gigs for your yard. Apparently the vibration from the spinners drives them away. Not as fun as burning up your dead yard, but colourful.

  20. Cele

    BTW Jerry Baker says put human hair in the mole holes. Gardeners say buy some special type of soil that starts with a D. Apparently it is a stickiery type of soil that adheres to their fur and prickles them. I like the whirie gigs myself.

    Jerry Baker natual gardner extraordinaire say that moles don’t eat your lawn or plants they eat the grubs that kill your lawn or plants, so the moles are merely a symptom of your problem.

    Okay, I think I am done. :)

  21. Jessica

    Sounds like you embarked on an epic battle much like the one my husband insists on waging with the carpenter ants. I’m positive that one of these days I will come home to find our entire property leveled and smoking, with him lying flat on his back waving a little white flag of surrender, a la Wiley Coyote while a carpenter ant does a jig on his nose.

    Thanks for a great laugh, and I do hope you get your moles taken care of.

  22. Julie

    I half expected to get to the part where you scortch your entire yard in a trash can lid sized crop circle fashion…and I was almost excited that you’d not have to mow the grass anymore.

    Ohhh I’ve got it! Go get the worms…fix Chickadee and Monkey up with hillbilly fishing poles..and send them out in the yard for MOLE FISHING!!! oR…You could always invite the local bait and tackle shop to come over and grub hunt..for a fee of course.

  23. Whimspiration

    Diacomateous Earth (which is the pointy, ground shells of tiny prehistoric creatures) works great on insects, but likely won’t have any effects on moles.

    Human hair works to a point (repells rabbits somewhat too), and shovelling a bit of used cat litter into the holes works better (they are very clean animals and will abandon fouled tunnels), but creating a naturally healthy lawn works the best (sprinkle on some natural grub parasite powder, then bring out the compost, cardboard, straw, peat moss, and manure now for an amazing lawn next summer). Try to avoid the toxins if at all possible. Best of luck!

    Thanks for sharing, and for the record, I have caught my yarden on fire taking care of a pest as well. (I was trying to burn some type of plant-eating worm off of a bush)

  24. chris

    what a gift- to be able to exact so much FUN from a story about death! are you available to write my obit so i can keep it one file? we’ve been moled before- the smoke bombs did the trick here. thanks for sharing!

  25. Vanda

    After all that laughing I just did and my hubby thinking I’d gone nuts, I hope you get rid of them with the burning lawn and all.

  26. Brigitte

    The groundhogs in my garden just dug deeper tunnels when I tried to smoke them out with those (and the plants that were touched by leaking smoke died).

    I agree with the “kill the grubs” guy . . . you could try a cat, but ours has been slacking off (or there are just too many moles to keep up with).

  27. Jenn

    We noticed over the summer that our dog would stare at spots in the yard and then pounce like a cat. We would go look at what was there and it was nothing, so we decided he was chasing fairies. Then one day we found him laying next to a dead mole. Mystery solved!

  28. Gillian

    I think what you’re supposed to do is ‘stay the course!’ and ‘When they stand up, you stand down!’ Do moles stand up? OK, I am a little thin on the ground when it comes to strategical thinking and not offending half the nation but, I am pretty sure Bugs Bunny uses TNT. He does live in a burrow though, so he probably knows which is the bottom and which are the sides. That may be the key. Perhaps you could move into a burrow for a while until you have a better feel for the underground thing. Wait, the burrows are already full of moles. I have it! You are supposed to position yourself in the center of the yard with a mallet and bash every mole who sticks out his head. Whew, glad I could help you out with that one.

  29. tori

    So are they gone now? I feel for you. We had about a million mice in our basement that at first we tried to trap and release, but then found that the same ones kept coming back in. We finally broke down and got the poison traps (that make my son cry) and now are free of mice. My daughter found one dead mouse in the basement and cried her eyes out. They still talk about how mean I am for killing a living thing. If you knew me at all, you would know I can’t even kill a bug (seriously, I bring them outside and let them go) but the mice had to get out of my house somehow and this was our last resort. Also, if I had moles, I wouldn’t know it until they were as bad as yours are. I seem pretty oblivious to these things. I hope they are gone for good now!

  30. Trivial Mom

    Okay, so I don’t know if this really works or not, I’ve never tried it myself . . . but my dad just sticks the garden hose in one of the holes and fills them up. If it doesn’t work at least your lawn won’t be so dry anymore!

  31. Lessa


    Ok. Reason number 1231092830192474621 that living in Alaska is a good idea. No moles!

    Though we do have the Moose Mama and her babies – but they tend to wander, and don’t dig burrows. And taking pictures of them right up agianst your windows makes people go “OMG! that’s COOL!” or totally freak out “They’re HUGE! you could DIE!” or get a little queasy “…you’d SHOOT it? and EAT it?”

    All in all – Moose=amusing, Moles= hopefully not horribly resiliant and on the move outa ya lawn. *g*

  32. Desi

    Move to Georgia, or certain parts anyway. You will more than likely have a yard that is 2inches of red clay on top of a ROCK. Therefore, taking care of any mole problems you might have……..or garden or grass or flowers

  33. Julia

    My family’s always used the Juicy Fruit trick (which my uncle the landscaper swears by)…
    You can even get the kiddos to help- chew a couple pieces of the gum for just a few seconds (so the moles can smell it or something), then use a stick to poke it down into the hole… The moles can’t digest gum, so they die (at least it’s not poison!)

  34. Heidi

    I’m with Suebob–avoid the poison if you can, because there is, as they say a circle of life. Except, of course, poison would result in a circle of death. Besides which there’s an off-chance that your kids could dig in poisoned dirt, which would be horrible. Not good for the water table, either. (Geez, what a nag.)

    There are traps available that go directly in the mole hole. You might want to do it when your kids are elsewhere, though, because it chops the little buggers in half. (I CHEERED when our cat caught our lawn culprit this summer and I didn’t have to resort to mole chopping.)

  35. Zee

    See, three times more expensive or not, I would have chosen the gummy worm thingies. Why? Cuz the cost of going to the emergency room to treat the resulting 3rd degree burns would negate the cost savings from buying the bombs in the first place… You are brave, my dear!

  36. Rae

    So, how do you know if it worked? A peculiar smell? Mole mobsters showing up at your door?

  37. Tracey

    This has got to be the funniest blog entry EVER. I mean, I’m sorry for your mole problem and your risking life and limb to get rid of them, of course. But thanks for the laugh.

  38. Lisa

    My neighbor,who lives in the same house she grew up in, once told me the story of her dad who, after he retired, apparently had a lot of time on his hands. He would spend lovely, sunny days sitting in his yard (or perhaps walking around patrolling it?), watching for movement of earth where he would then know there was a mole under there digging a tunnel. Her dad had a long stick…with a long, pointy spike sticking out of one end. When he saw the telltale earth movement, he would proceed to impale his pointy-spiked stick into the ground until he…um…made contact. The lesson here is that one should always have a hobby lined up BEFORE one retires.

  39. Mom101

    Oh so so funny! Even better than wack-a-mole!

  40. Charlotte

    I’m sitting in my office laughing out loud and getting strange looks! That was hilarious!

    You could export your moles to southeast Missouri. As someone from Georgia mentioned, we have red clay on top of rock. I cheer the occasional mole because they are much easier than a tiller.

    Groundhogs, on the other hand, make holes large enough to fall into, or at least step in and twist an ankle. Our favorite control for them? A .22. Yes, we live in the city limits where it is illegal to discharge a firearm, but we are rural enough that the rule is largely ignored for purposes other than crime. We still can’t bring ourselves to shoot them in the spring when they have families though – they’re actually kind of cute when they aren’t overrunning your yard.

    Bonus: all those dead moles are free fertilizer. Good luck and hope you are mole free soon!

  41. Ben

    I’m humming “I’m alright” and yes, I know that was GOPHERS, but there practically the same thing in that they both can trash your lawn and do a comical dance at the end of a golf movie.

    OMG woman you crack me up.

    Also, for the circle of life? My boys will cheerfully blow up your yard, free of charge. They don’t like varmints.

  42. Jenn2

    He wouldn’t come and kill your moles? BAD OTTO!!!!!

    I’m not sure what was funnier, your post or the comments. I can totally see Mr. Clairol patroling our lawn with a pointy stick. GAH!

  43. Shiz


    Sorry bout the moles. Maybe the worms were more expensive because they do not involve a whole day of tactical training in order to use them.

  44. Candy

    Oh my gosh I am peeing in my pants!!!! The post was so funny but also because my husband and I have been going through the same thing at our house. Some one told my husband you can drowned the moles if you stick the hose down the hole and leave it turned on. Needless to say our moles are still there and now the lawn is all muddy!!!

  45. Lisa

    Moles suck. We don’t have them, but we DID have gophers. My choice to get rid of them…we moved. And left the little buggers to my in-laws (he he he)

    But I have to tell you, and really hate to rain on the mole killing parade, but those smoke bombs…yea, they suck. I have, somewhere, a picture of our old yard, after trying to use said smoke bombs. Yes, its a picture of a fresh little mound of brown dirt, with the exploded and charred left-overs of the smoke bomb. I kid you not…if your moles are anything like our gophers were, they have a stash of gas masks waiting and ready to go, and in a few days…they’ll be returning the sad remnents of the smoke bombs to you.

  46. InterstellarLass

    I’m giggling uncontrollably. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mole except in the Wind in the Willows.

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