I have been searching for an environmentally friendly

EARTH TALKFrom the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

I have been searching for an environmentally friendly way to repel moles from my home without killing or harming them. Any suggestions?

—Elizabeth Powell, Marion, OH

Having moles in your yard is not necessarily detrimental. According to Bill Adler, author of Outwitting Critters: A Humane Guide for Confronting Devious Animals and Winning, moles eat destructive creatures like Japanese beetles and grubs, and aerate the soil by tunneling, thus bringing subsoil close to the surface. Moles themselves do not eat plant matter. Most likely, plant damage is done by the vegetarian vole, or by mice.

However, mole-tunneling activity can cause significant cosmetic damage to a well-manicured lawn. There are some mole-friendly ways to urge them to take their digging elsewhere. Gardens Alive! makes an eco-friendly spray called Mole-Gopher Med Repellent. Made from castor oil that you apply directly into mole holes about once every two months, the product releases a harmless smell that annoys moles, encouraging them to leave. One-pint bottles are good for a 5,000-square-foot application ($17).

Critter-Repellent.com offers Shake Away, a 100-percent natural pellet treated with a mixture of bobcat, coyote and fox urine that will also deter rodents from your yard: $15 for a 20-ounce bottle.

A physical barrier to try: Surround a cherished garden with an underground barrier of compacted soil and stones about one foot wide and two feet deep. A one-foot-high fence will prevent the moles from walking over the barrier.

CONTACTS: Gardens Alive!, (513) 354-1482, www.gardensalive.com; Critter-Repellent.com, (866) 802-8837, www.critter-repellent.com.