- 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
- BEST VOLE REPELLENTS
- BARN OWLS WILL KEEP VOLES AWAY NATURALLY
- VOLE SPRAY FOR PLANT BULBS, ROOTS AND TRUNKS
- HOW TO STOP VOLES FROM TUNNELING IN THE LAWN
- 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.
BEST 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.
BARN OWLS WILL KEEP VOLES AWAY NATURALLY *
Barn owls will readily feed on gophers, mice and voles so placing a BARN OWL BOX on the property could do the job of repelling these pests as well. Once an owl moves in, they’ll remove unwanted rodents nightly.
Mount 1 house every 2 acres at least 20 feet up any tree, pole or side of a structure.
VOLE SPRAY FOR PLANT BULBS, ROOTS AND 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.
HOW TO STOP VOLES FROM TUNNELING IN THE LAWN *
For tunnels under pine straw or in the grass, apply VOLE REPELLENT GRANULES to the infected areas every 30 days.
Use 1 lb per 1000 sq/ft and renew the treatment every 30 days.
After applying the granules, spray over the top with WHOLE CONTROL. The granules can be used by itself but they take a week or so to dissolve and have an impact. Using Whole Control will get immediate results and help work the granules down into the soil.
Use 1 quart per 5,000 sq/ft and renew monthly when voles are active.
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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