A yard or garden may occasionally become infested by burrowing or runway-generating rodent pests. One troublesome landscape rodent is the vole. Often, several species of voles exist in the same region but all eat plants. These small, brown to gray rodents grow between 4 and 8.5 inches long and can cause serious damage to trees, feed on flowers or crops and create runways in lawns. Vole presence and damage can be reduced by modifying the habitat, protecting vulnerable vegetation and, if necessary, through trapping.
Things You'll Need
- Lawn mower
- Hardware cloth or protective cylinder
- Common mouse traps
- Bait for traps (for example, peanut butter or rolled oats)
Identify the pest as a vole with certainty. Voles or their damage can sometimes be mistaken for rabbits or moles. Both voles and rabbits chew roots or girdle plants, but rabbits have wider teeth than voles and leave chew marks that reflect this. Voles leave irregular, small gnaw marks at various angles. Moles eat insects and earthworms. If plants are damaged, voles are likely responsible. Moles also leave a raised tunnel system in lawns while voles create aboveground runways and burrow underground.
Modify the landscape to limit the presence of vegetation that voles prefer to use for cover. Keep lawns mowed short and minimize the amount of mulch used around vulnerable plants. Leave a mulch-free ring with a radius of about 3 feet around the base of trees. Remove tall patches of weeds or grass that voles may hide in.
Exclude voles from attractive, vulnerable vegetation. Young trees, shrubs, vegetable gardens or flowerbeds can be encircled with hardware cloth or plastic mesh cylinders that extend about 1.5 feet above the soil surface and a few inches below the soil level.
Trap the voles. Traps designed to capture common mice can effectively control small populations of voles. Set traps perpendicular with the runway with the trigger end in the pathway and bait it using peanut butter and rolled oats or similar bait.
Tips & Warnings
- The Colorado State University Extension also mentions the use of poison grain baits as a control method but suggests that although rodenticides are often an effective short-term control management tool, habitat modification may be the most effective vole eradication method.
- Iowa State University Extension; Voles; Jim Pease; November 2008
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension; Vole Control; Brenda Mills; April 2002
- Colorado State University Extension; Managing Voles in Colorado; W.F. Andelt, S. Ahmed and K. Jones; June 2009
- Alabama Cooperative Extension System; Controlling Voles; Jim Armstrong; March 1999
- Photo Credit David De Lossy/Valueline/Getty Images
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