As spring approaches and the snow melts, many of us are excited about getting back to work in our yards. Sometimes the initial inspections of our yards reveal the presence of unwelcome visitors who have been busy under the snow cover; we find evidence of vole activity.
A vole is a field rodent that looks similar to a mouse with a stouter body and a shorter tail. Voles prefer to eat plant matter such as shrub roots, bulbs, seeds, and the bark from small trees or shrubs. If left unchecked, voles can cause considerable damage to or even kill ground the ground cover and shrubs in your yard.
Voles are voracious breeders. They can have 5–10 litters per year. Each litter can have over 10 young voles, who will reach sexual maturity in about a month. As a result, a single mating pair of voles can reach over 100 active voles in a very short period of time. This is why, when discussing vole control with a homeowner, we speak about population management as opposed to elimination of the pest, as these reproductive practices are often occurring on surrounding properties as well. Vole control is achieved by installing tamper resistant bait stations in strategic areas on the property, and keeping a fresh seed based bait inside those stations at all times. Repeated bait applications are often necessary to achieve population control.
Voles are commonly mistaken for Moles. Unlike voles, moles prefer to eat earthworms or grubs (Vole = Vegetarian; Mole = Meat eater). Where vole trails are commonly seen on the surface of the grass, mole tunnels are actually under the turf itself, resulting in a spongy or squishy feeling when walking across them. Moles are very territorial, and usually infest at a rate of about 1 mole per acre of land. A single mole will dig up to a half a mile of feeding tunnels.
Mole control is achieved with the use of traps. Baits placed directly into the mole burrow, and are designed to simulate an earthworm or grub. This is difficult to attract a mole versus the thousands of natural food sources in a lawn. Moles can be choosy about what they eat, so bait acceptance is sometimes challenging. Find a trap at a local garden supplier and try your best to kill moles. We do not control this pest with our services.
Frustrated and don’t know how to get rid of voles? Vole control is included with Tomlinson Bomberger’s Quarterly Pest Control Program.