Voles

Credit: Credit: agry.purdue.edu

Voles drive gardeners and homeowners crazy! Find out how to identify and get rid of them.

How to Identify Voles in your Garden

We're talking voles, NOT moles. Voles are small rodents similar to field mice. They have small rounded ears, small eyes, and short tails. You'll know voles by the snake-like tunnels that you'll see all over your lawn. They're very active in the spring and then their manic tunneling subsides.

Voles love fields with lots of weeds and coverage. They are active both day and night, especially evening and early morning hours. They love to burrow underground and will eat bulbs and root vegetables. If you have partially eaten carrots, potatoes, etc., you may have a vole problem. They also nest at the base of trees and shrubs which can cause damage to the roots, especially as they tend to chew the bark. 

How to Get Rid of Voles

Here are a few tips for getting rid of voles. Try some of these methods for your garden:

  • Voles like dense, heavy vegetative cover, mulch, and weeds because it provides them with food and protects them from predators. Make your yard inhospitable to voles! Cut back brush, mow, weed, and create a clean space.
  • Try live traps near mole runways or the nesting sites at the base of trees and shrubs. Bait traps with peanut butter. Set baits midday to early evening when voles get more active. Reset the traps as often as necessary until you eliminate the population. Relocate voles to a faraway field. The key to trapping is persistence.
  • If you have an extreme problem, you can bait voles with a registered rodenticide. Consult your local garden center or professional critter control agency.
  • Voles in the veggie garden? These little critters aren't very good climbers. Protect a garden by fencing the area with a half-inch of mesh, at least 12 inches above the ground and buried 6 to 10 inches deep.
  • Bulb control? You can discourage voles from nibbling on bulbs by adding gravel to the planting hole (surrounding the bulbs). When you plant bulbs, drench or powder them with a fungicide to keep voles at bay.
  • Another great control method is an outdoor cat.

See more about common garden pests like mice and moles.

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