Voles—ever heard of them? Most people go their whole lives without ever knowing about voles. Instead, if they have a problem with their lawns, they assume it is a mole problem. However, a vole is a furry, burrowing animal about 5” long. They have tiny eyes and small ears,and on a big lawn, they create tunnels that criss-cross your yard. Voles are not moles, which are carnivorous, but a part of the rodent family. They eat plants and vegetables, so if you have a garden with half-eaten grass, you may have voles in your yard. They pull veggies down below the soil where they eat them. Voles do have teeth and could bite, but they rarely are that kind of threat to humans; however, if voles are crisscrossing your yard and you want to be rid of them, read on.
Voles create tunnels to store food, raise their babies and sleep. They also create intersecting tunnels and runways for travel over a big lawn. These runways are 1-2” wide and found in very grassy areas. There will be lots of droppings on the surface of the runaways.The plants and grass nearby will have turned yellow and wilted. Remember the difference between voles and moles is that voles leave no noticeable mounds on top of where their tunnels are. They are most likely found near golf courses or parks.
The Damage they Do
Voles burrow into the root system of shrubs and trees causing young vegetation to experience die back or start to lean. Voles also gnaw on tree trunks and damage the roots of perennials such as host a plants,spring bulbs, and potatoes. Mostly, however, they eat the stems and blades of grass. Obviously, it’s far easier to prevent voles from entering your yard than to get rid of them. You can use more natural pest control.
Since it is not just veggies and dense brush that voles hide under, mulch applied too close to trees and shrubs will cause voles to chew on them. Voles will actually be given encouragement by the mulch. In winter, snow will give voles the cover to munch on trees and shrubs.
Natural Pest Control
Most likely yards with lots of vegetation or debris are perfect for voles. If you keep your lawn mowed and weeded, and don’t keep a dense ground cover like creeping juniper, you can avoid vole infestation. You can also protect young trees by wrapping the lower trunk with a guard (for example, a wire mesh).
You already have Voles
But what if it’s too late for preventive measures? If your lawn and landscaping already show evidence of vole damage(you won’t see them) you should consider vole eradication. Voles can be removed humanely from a yard by using Havahart live traps. There are other methods of getting rid of the problem, involving mousetraps and poisons. Garden fencing will frustrate them, or you can use vole repellents.
Promier Landscapes provides lawn care services to the Tri-Cities area,including Kingsport, Johnson City, and Bristol. For more information about our services, please call us at (423) 246-7977.