How to Eliminate a Vole Problem

Can a cute little creature cause big problems? Just ask landscapers and gardening enthusiasts and you will find that the answer is a resounding “yes”! Voles or field mice are small rodents which are often mistaken for mice and can make a mess of landscapes. Although they may look alike, Mice and Voles are different kind of pests to deal with. The most common types of voles are Prairie and Meadow.  Before you deal with your vole problem, make sure that you are targeting the correct furry creature.

Identify Voles and their Damage:

  • Physical appearance: 3-7 inches in length, brown with cream or yellow bellies, blunt noses, small eyes and a stubby tail. (Vole damage is much more visible than the actual animal).
  • Spongy soil on your property as a result of these tunneling creatures that nest and live in burrows.
  • Unlike mice, they prefer not to climb and enter homes.
  • Young plants clipped, seeds dug up, leaves, roots, and tubers eaten.
  • Bulbs, flowers and vegetables ruined.
  • Grass clipped down and runways in your lawn.
  • Girdling of young trees and shrubs.
  • Finding extensive damage in the spring that took place in the winter under the snow.  Voles do not hibernate!

 

Controlling the Damage:

  • Make your property a place where voles would not like to habituate by removing tall grasses, brush and woodpiles which provide cover for voles.  By clearing your yard you are exposing them to their predators: coyotes, foxes, bobcat and owls. Encourage your dog to be a presence in your yard; my cat has been known to leave a vole as a “gift” at the back door.  These natural predators can greatly reduce the vole population.
  • Keep vegetation away from young trees to deter voles from chewing bark. 
  • Put up a fence around gardens or trees.  Make sure you bury fence to keep burrowing animals out. 
  • A vole treatment that is much preferred to extermination and trapping with poisonous baits is to use a natural vole repellent.  Homemade concoctions using capsaicin (hot pepper) will make your vegetation taste bad to the pest in the garden.  An easier way to eliminate voles is to spray repellent bought at your local garden center.  These pest control products will repel by making the vole uncomfortable by the smell and the taste will send him to snack elsewhere.
  • Trap voles with a humane trap.

These rodents may have 4 litters a year of 12, so the damage may be extensive.   Use one or a combination of methods to keep your property free of these small, but harmful animals.

 

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