- WHAT IS A VOLE?
- VOLE DAMAGE
- VOLE TUNNELS IN LAWNS
- HOW TO CONTROL A VOLE PROBLEM
- FUMIGATING A VOLE INFESTATION
- VOLE BAIT FOR TREATING TUNNELS, DENS AND MOUNDS
- VOLE KILL TRAPS
- LIQUID VOLE REPELLENTS
- VOLE SPRAY FOR PLANT BULBS, ROOTS AND TREE TRUNKS
- GRANULAR REPELLENT TO KEEP VOLES AWAY
- BEST VOLE SOUND REPELLERS
- INSTALL A BARN OWL HOUSE
- CONTACT US
Voles are small rodents which look a lot like a large mouse and are commonly referred to as a field mouse, bank vole, meadow mouse, wood mouse or field vole. They’re short and compact with small eyes and mostly hidden ears. Though most are brown or gray, colors vary since there are over 20 species here in the United States.
Voles can be found in every state and though they reside outside, the damage they can do in the yard is extensive. Unlike most small rodents, voles will be active day or night. They won’t hibernate and it’s not uncommon to find their fresh burrows even in newly fallen snow. This article will provide some basic biology about voles, explain why they are a problem around the home and then explain vole control options available.
Related articles: CHIPMUNKS GOPHERS GROUND SQUIRRELS MOLES PRAIRIE DOGS SHREWS
WHAT IS A VOLE? ^
Voles are small rodents that grow to 4-8 inches depending on the species. They can have 5-10 litters per year. Gestation takes for 3 weeks and the young voles reach sexual maturity in a month. Needless to say, vole populations can rapidly grow from one or two to many within a very short period of time. Since litters average 5-10 young, a single vole in the yard can become 50 or more in less then a year.
Voles are commonly mistaken for other small animals. Moles, gophers, mice, rats and even shrews have similar characteristics and behavioral tendencies. Since voles will commonly use burrows with many exit holes, they can be mistaken for gophers or some kind of ground squirrel.
Voles can create their own burrows but will often times utilize old abandoned mole tunnels thus confusing the land owner into thinking that moles are active.
When voles find their way into the home, they are readily identified as mice or young rats. In fact, voles are unique and best described as being a little bit like all the other animals they are so commonly thought to be.
Like moles, they will readily thrive on small insects including grubs which are one of their favorites.
Like shrews they will eat dead animals and like mice or rats, they can live on most any nut or fruit.
Additionally, voles will target plants more then most other small animals. Its here where their presence is mostly evident.
Voles will readily “girdle” or eat the bark of small trees and ground cover much like a porcupine. This girdling can easily kill small, young plants and is not healthy for trees or other shrubs. Voles love to eat succulent root systems and will burrow under plants or ground cover they’re particularly fond of and literally eat away till the plant is dead.
Flower bulbs in the ground are another favorite target for voles; their excellent burrowing and tunneling will give them access to sensitive areas without clear or early warning. It is far too common to learn you have a vole problem only after the extent of their damage and feeding is mapped out on your landscaping in the form of dead plants and tunnels.
VOLE DAMAGE ^
Voles can do all kinds of damage. Girdling is the more obvious; bark which is eaten is readily visible and apparent even as it is happening.
Vole damage to plants is sometimes not so obvious. As voles consume the roots or bulbs of plants in the yard, this “below the top soil activity” is not so easy to see or acknowledge. Sometimes one does not know that their beautiful tulips have been eaten until they wonder why they aren’t growing anymore.
Above ground damage in gardens is sometimes written off as insect activity or some other animal but since voles like just about any vegetable, they will readily prey upon most anything grown in the average garden. Flower beds and mulch piles are other areas voles will find an abundance of food and just because you have a large yard with a lot growing, don’t think the local voles won’t have an impact. Since they multiply so rapidly, small initial activity can quickly become out of hand. In fact, their trademark tunneling is one of the more common landscape problems they create.
VOLE TUNNELS IN LAWNS ^
Vole tunnels and dens will become well structured and dispersed if left to their own. The main dens will be similar to gophers or chipmunks; several entrances and exits leading in all directions. The tunnels they create as they forage for food will indirectly kill grass and other plants as roots are chewed or severed. Leaving burrowing and tunneling voles to do as they wish is not a good idea. If you see activity, confront it sooner rather then later. Dealing with a few voles will make the task a lot more manageable; waiting till the local population is well established will cost more in time, energy and equipment.
HOW TO CONTROL A VOLE PROBLEM ^
Voles are actually easy to control. There are several treatment options. For small isolated problems, one approach will do the job. But for well established ongoing issues, use a few methods listed below. In most cases, there won’t be one magic cure. Like most integrated pest management, the more tools employed the better the results. Vole control could involve trapping, baiting and repelling.
FUMIGATING A VOLE INFESTATION ^
One of the oldest methods of killing voles is to “gas” them. GIANT DESTROYERS are basically a sulfur based smoke bomb. It has a fuse and looks like a fire cracker. Set one down their burrow or tunnel, light the fuse and cover the entrance holes to help keep the sulfur smoke in the ground.
Be sure not too cover the holes too much to cause the fuse goes out and the “bomb” won’t burn. Tie some twine or string to each stick before placing it down the burrow so it will be easy to retrieve in case it goes out. When burrows and tunnels are short and minimal (10 feet or less), this approach will be highly effective. However, large infestations will have created too many escape hatches and passage ways so it’s not likely such an effort will prove to be totally effective if you have a well established problem.
Use 1 stick per den for small to medium sized mounds. For large communities where 5 or more animals are thought to be active, use 2 sticks.
VOLE BAIT FOR TREATING TUNNELS, DENS AND MOUNDS ^
The next available option is to employ a bait. The trick is use one which best fits the situation.
For example, if you are in a part of the country where gophers are a problem, the use of a grain based GOPHER BAIT would make sense. Voles will love seed and will quickly accept this offering.
Expect to use 1 lb for every 1/2 acre of land needing attention. Most dens will require 2-4 oz of bait.
If you think the problem could be moles or voles, MOLE BAIT would be the better way to go. This will insure quick acceptance since both moles and voles will eat this formulation.
Use this bait at the same 2-4 oz per den rate but if treating tunnels, expect to use 1 lb for every 10,000 sq/ft.
When treating tunnels, the GOPHER BAIT APPLICATOR is well suited for large jobs.
When treating a few dens, the SNAKE BAITER will help get the bait where needed.
VOLE KILL TRAPS ^
If you don’t want to use a “poison” bait for fear of non-target animals getting injured, the use of kill traps should be considered. There are several types that will catch a vole. If you have a small species active around the size of a mouse, the EXPANDED TRIGGER MOUSE TRAPS are very effective. Use them if you have many entrance and exit holes. Place these just outside the holes and bait with either PECAN PASTE or LOGANBERRY PASTE depending on what the voles are most likely feeding upon.
If you your voles are eating seeds from a bird feeder or nuts from a local tree on your property, use PECAN PASTE to bait your traps.
If they’re targeting fruit from a garden or fruit tree, go with LOGANBERRY PASTE.
If your voles are large, go with EXPANDED TRIGGER RAT TRAPS. These can be used in the yard under STEEL TRAP COVERS which will both prevent non-target animals from ruining your set as well as keep the bait fresh and protected from the rain and sun.
These kits have two rat traps and weigh almost 2 lbs. Rodents will readily enter and feel “comfortable” feeding inside.
If you don’t have dens or mounds but mostly tunnels, TUNNEL TRAPS should be employed. These are set in active tunnels and work great for both moles and voles.
These come packaged 4 per pack and are easy to set.
LIQUID VOLE REPELLENTS ^
If you have voles on your property nesting and feeding, chances are others will be coming around. This is due to odors and pheromones left behind by the active voles. So even if you remove an active population of voles, old odors will likely attract new ones for up to a full year or more.
Furthermore, if you have good food supplies combined with good soil in which to burrow and nest, it only makes sense that others will be drawn to your yard. To keep new activity minimal and unwanted voles off your property and out of the yard, set out a vole repellent. There are many available and most will help. The key is using the right one which will vary from situation to situation.
If coyotes or some other natural predator is present in your region, applying COYOTE URINE along property borders may keep new voles away. Coyotes are natural predators of voles and the odor of coyote urine may be enough to alarm them and force them elsewhere.
Use 1-2 oz every 5-10 feet of property line through which voles might enter. Renew the application every 30-60 days.
To help allow the urine to last 60-90 days per placement, install LIQUID GUARDS every 10 feet. They hold 1.5 oz of liquid and will allow the scent to permeate 5-10 feet around the placement.
The advantage of liquid guards is that one can remove them seasonally. They anchor nicely to the ground but can be removed as needed.
A more “discreet” way to protect urine placements is to install CAPSULE GUARDS. These are quite small holding less than .5 oz per capsule. But they get “pushed” into the ground making for easy to hide placements that will keep urine odor fresh for 60-90 days.
Use 1 capsule guard every 5 feet along borderlines, natural trails or pathways where they’ll be discovered by foraging animals.
VOLE SPRAY FOR PLANT BULBS, ROOTS AND TREE TRUNKS ^
If you have had an ongoing problem with voles eating plant bulbs or annual plantings, treat the plants with PEST RID SPRAY. This ready-to-use spray contains a food grade active voles don’t like. Spray bulbs prior to planting them in the ground. For annuals or perenials, spray before voles find them attractive. Pest Rid will provide protection for 3-4 weeks and won’t kill a thing; its merely a repellent.
Pest Rid covers 125 sq/ft per quart; gallons will cover up to 500 sq/ft.
GRANULAR REPELLENT TO KEEP VOLES AWAY ^
For tunnels under pine straw or in the grass, apply VOLE REPELLENT GRANULES to the infected areas every 14 days until they’re gone. In most cases, they’ll move away within 1-2 weeks following the initial application but a second treatment may be needed. This professional strength granule will force them off the treated area.
To prevent more from returning, treat around the perimeter of your property once every 30 days during the summer, fall and winter. Voles are quite active in the winter and this is a key time to make applications – even in the snow.
Use 1 lb per 600 sq/ft; the 22 lb pail will cover up to 13,500 sq/ft of lawn and garden.
BEST VOLE SOUND REPELLERS ^
For the money, our line of sonic sound repellers are your best bet for long term proven vole control. We feature two units; one is strong enough to use as a barrier along property lines. Use this one for when you want to keep voles out. The second unit is much stronger incorporating ultra sound along with the standard vibration and sound our base unit provides. But the deluxe unit is strong enough to be used in active vole tunnels to chase them off your property.
There are actually lots of these units on the market these days but most are under powered and won’t be strong enough to handle the job. But the science is proven. Basically ground burrowing animals like voles will avoid dirt under construction or where they hear ongoing “noise”. For this reason, devices which intentionally send out sound waves can be used to both chase away voles and keep them from entering your property in the first place.
So can they work? Absolutely. And are they strong enough to get rid of the voles already in your yard? Yes, but only our deluxe model (second one below).
BASIC SOLAR POWERED VOLE REPELLER ^
So if you’ve had voles in the yard and want to prevent them from coming back, install SOLAR POWERED VOLE CHASERS. along property borders. This device uses sunlight to charge a small battery which in turn will keep the unit running all day and all night. In fact it can run several days without sun so once installed, you’ll have 24 hours a day protection.
This basic unit can cover up to 6,500 sq/ft and if placed along property lines from where voles might enter, they will effectively reroute voles elsewhere.
Coverage is about 4,000-6,500 sq/ft depending on soil type. Soft, loamy soil like that along water ways will tend to absorb the sound more and effectively deaden it. This means coverage will be thwarted and reduced to the lower range of 4,000-5,000 sq/ft.
When placed along property lines, install units every 60-75 feet. When the units arrive, they will have a slight charge. So before installing them, we recommend letting them sit out in sunlight (turned off) for at least one day to get a good charge on their battery. This way when you deploy them in the yard, they’ll be ready to work at full strength.
Now if you have active voles, consider getting the next unit down as its much stronger.
DELUXE SOLAR POWERED VOLE REPELLER ^
So if you have active voles centered in your property say in a garden or flower bed, our DELUXE VOLE REPELLER will be needed. This model is one of kind and not available for sale elsewhere. True, there are models which looks like it. But they don’t have all the features our units have which are needed for certain animals like voles, gophers, ground squirrels, chipmunks and prairie dogs when they’re actually nesting on your land.
Our deluxe model works essentially the same as the basic unit above. It too uses the sun to charge an on board battery so it runs on its own, around the clock. And it releases a vibration that will both move the ground and create a sound wave that will “rattle” voles so they want to leave. But our deluxe model incorporates other sounds making them well suited for control of existing problems meaning they’re not just good for prevention: they’re actually strong enough to get rid of nesting animals.
As stated, this unit will vibrate several times a minute constantly rotating its cycle. But it also sends out “ultra sound”. In general, ultra sound won’t help fight moles since they’re down in the ground and well protected. This is why most ground vibrating stakes like this don’t include ultra sound. But for animals that like to forage up (like voles), ultra sound is helpful and for the most part, needed.
In addition to the ultra sound being sent out, it also uses two LED bulbs located on underside of controller head. These light up a subtle red when its dark which effectively give the units an “evil” look at night. Small animals that like to forage on the ground will look up and see these discreet red lights and perceive it to be a predator. This in turn which will make them uncomfortable and nervous. Combined with the ultra sound, the vibration and the audible sound, the deluxe repeller is powerful enough to be used in the middle of a an active vole colony and within two weeks, force them to leave.
So if you have active voles and want to use this unit as a way to get them to leave, only deploy units directly in active tunnels and nests. Do not install units along property borders for the first two weeks. This will give the nesting voles a way to escape. After two weeks, you should still leave the units in main nests and tunnels for another month but at this time you can also install units along property borders. And after another month, you can remove the units located in the middle of your property and locate them where they’ll provide more benefit.
Coverage for these units is a bit more compared to the basic unit. So for loamy soft soil, plan on getting 4,000-5,000 sq/ft of coverage. But for hard pan, 6,500 to 7,500 sq/ft per unit is to be expected. Along property borders, place units every 60-75 feet.
Setup for these is like the other unit in that you’ll want to let the head unit charge for 1-2 days prior to setting them out in the yard. This way they go afield under full power making them best suited to get the job done. For more detailed directions on how to set them up, download our SETUP DIRECTIONS.
Regardless of which unit you get, you need to properly prepare the ground by drilling a smooth hole for them to fill. The hole must be the proper depth and width. Our SOIL AUGER is perfectly designed for the task. Simply attach it to your favorite hand drill and take it out to the yard for the task at hand. Holes can be drilled in 10-20 seconds and will be just right. Plan on making them about 9 inches deep as units need to be installed so 1-2″ stick out to keep the head unit off the ground.
INSTALL A BARN OWL HOUSE ^
Lastly, since barn owls will readily feed on gophers, mice and voles, installing a BARN OWL BOX could be all the protection you need to keep local populations in check. Once an owl moves in your house out in the yard, they’ll remove unwanted rodents every night when they feed. Plus, owl houses make a great conversation piece.
Mount 1 house every 2 acres at least 20 feet up any tree, pole or side of a structure.
CONTACT US ^
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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