“Making mountains out of molehills” is a common saying meaning “treating little problems like a big ones.” Whoever came up with that phrase never had to deal with a garden mole infestation! Moles can be a big problem when they take up residence on your property. If this common lawn pest targets your land, you should act quickly to prevent damage.

Recognizing a garden mole problem isn’t too hard. Moles are small gray, brown or black mammals with oversized hands suited for digging the underground tunnels, or “runways,” where they live. Because they prefer these dark tunnels, they have tiny, almost useless eyes and sharp teeth that help them devour the worms and insects that share their subterranean space.

You usually won’t see the moles themselves, though, even if you’re facing an infestation. The most common sign of mole activity is the presence of small mounds of dirt where they’ve been digging. Because they dig some of their runways relatively close to the surface, you may also find visible raised areas that trace the twisting paths they make as they search for prey. You might also see your grass dying along these paths since garden moles tend to cause root system damage as they burrow.

Moles don’t pose any direct risk to humans, but they still cause problems. The abovementioned root system damage can wreak havoc on your gardens. Moles don’t care how badly they mess up your beautiful yard (after all, they’re blind), and their digging will leave roots exposed and small plants overturned.

Even worse, mole activity weakens the ground’s ability to support human structures such as porches and swimming pools. If left unchecked, moles can cause significant damage to the foundation of your home, costing you lots of money and possibly even endangering your family’s safety.

What can you do about garden moles? Some do-it-yourself options are available. Because moles are a common lawn pest, home-and-garden stores often sell mole traps. These sometimes work, but cleanup can be an unpleasant chore. Another option is poison, which can kill the moles, but if you use this method you may end up killing inoffensive wildlife as well.

Prevention methods are similarly hit-or-miss. Some chemicals can keep moles away, but they need to be reapplied from time to time. There are also sonic repellents, which make the ground vibrate with the intention of scaring the moles away from your land. Moles, however, are adaptive creatures and may simply get used to the noise after a while.

Because DIY mole remedies are less than perfectly reliable, it’s a good idea to call in professional help to deal with them. Qualified pest-control experts have more reliable tools at their disposal than the over-the-counter remedies you find yourself, and they have experience removing mole infestations.

If you start seeing molehills, don’t wait for them to turn into mountains. Call a pest-control service and let them know about your uninvited guests before the moles turn your yard upside-down.