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Volesare rodents (voles) belong to the same family as mice and rats. They are also known as field mice, pine mice or meadow mice. They can measure an average of 4 to 8 inches from nose to tail. They have shorter tails and stouter bodies compared to mice and come in different types. Pine voles live underground while meadow voles live above ground. They can be active both during the day and at night and spend most of their time in tunnel systems that are one to a few inches below the ground.
How to Spot Vole Activity
If you suspect vole activity in your garden, look for runways on the surface of the ground in your lawn. These runways are typically about one to two inches wide. Their burrows can be identified by holes found around the base of trees or in lawns. Additionally, the grass surrounding these holes is usually very short. It should be noted that unlike molehills, there will be no soil mounding around the opening.
How to Identify Vole Damage in Your Garden
Vole damage can occur at any time of the year. When food supply is short in winter, voles will gnaw along the root collar of small trees and the bark on shrubs. This can result in severe damage to plants and even cause the death of young trees. Plants that have been eaten by voles are left with pointed tips at the end of their stems. You will be faced with dead plants that when lifted show no visible root structures left when voles eat tubers and roots underground.
How to Control Voles in Your Garden
For effective management of a vole infestation, you need to modify your garden to protect your plants in addition to taking steps to reduce and control their population.
Vole Habitat Management
- Tidy Up
Because voles hide and nest in lawn debris and vegetation, you need to make your lawn and garden less inviting to voles by keeping them tidy, mowed and weeded. You should also avoid planting dense groundcovers.
- Wrap Trees
Bark damage is always a problem with voles. Surround the lower parts of tree trunks and large shrubs with a loose cylinder of a quarter inch wire mesh. The mesh should be buried a few inches into the ground and should reach above the snow line.
To protect your flower and vegetable garden, fence the garden using a quarter inch or smaller mesh. The fence should be buried a foot deep to prevent vole burrowing.
- Line Raised Beds
Before adding soil, line raised beds with mesh. This will keep voles at bay. You can also consider planting bulbs in mesh cages.
- Underground Barriers
Voles ordinarily avoid burrowing through coarse soil. You can protect your beds and individual plants with a trench of a product like VoleBloc or sharp gravel.
- Creating Buffer Zones
Voles tend to avoid open areas. You can plow or incorporate a graveled buffer strip that should be at least 15 inches wide around your orchards or vegetable gardens.
- Keeping Mulch Back
You should not pile mulch directly against shrubs and tree trunks to reduce vole burrowing and munching. A diameter of a 3 inch diameter of cleared space is ideal around trees.
- Encouraging Predators
Natural predators such as cats, hawks, foxes and owls feed on voles. They will not eliminate the entire vole population but will help keep it under control. You can, therefore, put up perching areas in your garden for these predators.
- Tilling the garden
Tilling and plowing reduces cover vegetation that harbor rodents such as voles.
Vole Pest Control
Voles can cause a lot of damage and are a nuisance to deal, and especially with heavy infestation. Call us today at (801) 544-9200 to help you reclaim your lawn and garden.