Using marshmallows to kill moles sounds nuts, but it might work. Moles supposedly can’t digest some ingredients (specific emulsifiers) in marshmallows. Based on this, some folks claim that if a mole eats a marshmallow, that mole’s digestive system should theoretically get blocked and eventually cause the mole to perish.
In this article we’ll explain where this theory likely originated, the merits and problems with this theory, why using marshmallows to remove moles from your yard might attract other animals, and some other common household items people use to remove moles from their lawns.
We also cover a few things you can do to prevent moles from your yard. It’s usually easier to prevent and deter moles than trying to trap or kill them. If moles are already tearing up your lawn, you’re probably more interested in exterminating moles than you are in preventing them. But, it’s good to rule out whether or not you might have something in your yard that is attracting more moles than usual. You can skip to a specific section via the table of contents and if you have additional questions drop us a comment at the end of this article.
Mole habits and behaviors
When dealing with any pest, it’s good to understand a bit about their habit and behaviors. Learn about what attracts moles, what they eat, and what moles’ predators are. The more you know about moles, the more effective you’ll be at getting rid of them. You want to stack the cards in your favor because addressing a mole infestation in your yard can feel like fighting an insurgency.
What are moles attracted to
Moles primarily eat earthworms and grubs. Worms are good for your lawn, so you’ll want to leave them alone. You can reduce watering your lawn to one strong watering per week to reduce earthworms to some degree. Grubs, however, can also damage your lawn-eating roots. So, decreasing the grub population in your yard cuts down on one thing that attracts moles and helps your grass too.
What deters moles
If you know things that deter moles, you might use them to help encourage moles to leave your yard. Some people claim marshmallows, even if they don’t kill moles, seem to help deter moles.
Substances that might deter moles
People claim that the following substances seem to help keep moles away (with varying degrees of success).
- Coffee grounds (supposedly moles don’t coffee’s strong smell)
- Mothballs (supposedly moles don’t mothballs scent)
- Cayenne pepper (again, moles don’t like the scent of pepper in their tunnels)
- Castor oil
- Mole repellents based on mole predators (one such repellent is Vitax Stay Off Mole Repellent)
- Marshmallows (supposedly moles can’t digest some of the ingredients in marshmallows)
Plants that might deter moles
According to gardeningknowhow.com, the following plants help deter moles from your yard or garden. Avoid the last two because they’re toxic to children and pets:
- Frittilarius (Avoid: Poisonous to some pets and children)
- Mole plant (Avoid: Poisonous to some pets and children
Why would marshmallows kill moles?
Admittedly, it seems weird that marshmallows could kill moles because it seems odd that moles would even try to eat a marshmallow.
The earliest claim I found regarding marshmallows and moles stems from the below 2016 testimonial in the Farmers Guardian.
The theory that people put forth is that industrial-made marshmallows have certain ingredients that are deadly to moles when consumed. These two ingredients are the following:
- Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
Carrageenan is an emulsifier. Some folks claim that if moles eat enough carrageenan, it’ll block them up and lead to them perishing. This claim doesn’t seem completely ridiculous, given some research suggests that carrageenan is tied to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in humans.
Counter arguments to this theory is that there is no evidence that moles are attracted to marshmallows (moles need to be somehow attracted to marshmallows to eat them). Some folks on this hunter forum suggest that the whole idea of poisoning moles with marshmallows may have been a joke started by an Irish farmer. Other folks swear it works, though, so it’s your call. Might be worth trying, even at the risk of being the butt of a joke.
Tetrasodium pyrophosphate is another emulsifier commonly found in industrial-produced marshmallows. It is thought to kill moles by the same process as carrageenan, primarily through constipation. But again, I’ve found no evidence that moles would even eat marshmallows, which seems necessary for the “emulsifiers block up moles’ digestive tract” theories.
So, after researching marshmallows and moles, it seems inconclusive whether marshmallows can reliably be used to kill moles or if the claim started as a joke that went viral. Nonetheless, a few packages of marshmallows are relatively cheap and the process of placing them is easy. So, it doesn’t hurt to try. Let us know how it works out for you in the comments.
Placing marshmallows on your lawn to get the moles
Based on anecdotal evidence, it seems the best way to use marshmallows to kill moles is the following:
- Identify all the mole tunnels, including their entrance and exit holes: Mole tunnel entry and exit points are not too difficult to find. These are normally at the beginning and end of any given tunnel.
- Place around 5 marshmallows in each mole tunnel: Wear gloves so you don’t leave your scent on the marshmallows (this might make moles avoid that tunnel altogether), and insert around 5 marshmallows mostly evenly spaced throughout the tunnel length.
- Seal mole tunnel entry and exit points: Place one more marshmallow at the mole tunnel entry point and one marshmallow at the tunnel exit point.
- Check for additional signs of additional mole activity: After about a week, check your yard for new mole tunnels. If you notice new tunnels, the marshmallow mole extermination method likely didn’t work and vice versa.
Other pests that are attracted to marshmallows
One risk of placing marshmallows inside mole tunnels is that several other animals are also attracted to marshmallows. So, even if marshmallows eliminated all the moles in your yard, you might be also attracting other unwanted animals to your yard.
Animals that are attracted to marshmallows
- Rats are attracted to marshmallows: (partially because marshmallows don’t go stale easily). But, let’s suppose rats become attracted to marshmallows you inserted into mole tunnels. Once the rats consumed all the marshmallows you buried in your yard, assuming the rats find no other food source, they should move on.
- Raccoons are attracted to marshmallows: So much so that the University of Nebraska Lincoln recommends marshmallows as bait for raccoon traps (page 53). Again, assuming raccoons come to your yard to eat marshmallows buried there, the raccoons would likely move on after they consumed all the marshmallows there.
- Mice are attracted to marshmallows: The University of Nebraska Lincoln also recommends marshmallows as bait for mice traps. (pages 133 & 163). Mice would likely move on after they consumed all the marshmallows there.
- Opossums are attracted to marshmallows: The University of Nebraska Lincoln also recommends marshmallows as bait for opossums traps. (page 146). Opossums would likely move on after they consumed all the marshmallows there.
What other household items exterminate moles without traps?
Another household item that some claim kills moles in a similar manner as marshmallows supposedly do is Juicy Fruit gum.
Juicy fruit gum for killing moles
Some folks claim Juicy Fruit gum also gets stuck inside moles if they eat it. If this is the case, then you would place Juicy Fruit gum sticks in the mole tunnels in your yard the same way that you would for marshmallows. Again, there is no proof this works or not, but given how cheap a few packs of Juicy Fruit are, it might be worth a try.
Dawn dish soap for deterring moles
Another household item some folks claim gets rid of moles from your yard is Dawn dish soap (or some other brand). Apparently repeatedly putting soap in their tunnels causes them to eventually leave because moles don’t like the smell of dish soap.
While there doesn’t yet seem to be solid evidence that killing moles with marshmallows is an effective method or a joke, since marshmallows are cheap and non-toxic for your yard, it seems worth a try. Or you can just go straight to investing in some mole traps that are proven to work well if