Voles: How to Identify This Rodent and Keep It out of Your Yard
From Norway rats and roof rats to tree squirrels, a number of different types of rodents call California home. One common rodent that you might not have heard of but could be causing serious damage to your lawn and garden is voles. These small rodents can become a big problem, especially when you allow them to call your property home.
The average female vole will have up to 10 litters each year, with at least three babies in each litter. If left unchecked, the multiplying voles will begin devouring your lawn and wreaking havoc on your flowers and vegetable garden. Here is some important information about voles, including how to identify, prevent and get rid of this common rodent.
How to Identify Voles
Otherwise known as meadow mice or field mice, voles are around four to six inches in length and feature a short tail, large eyes and noticeable teeth, which they use for gnawing. Voles will be active throughout the day and night, and often, you won't see these rodents, only the trail they create.
Instead, watch for runways, which are tunnels created by the voles when they consume grass and other vegetation. These tunnels will often feature small openings that are their beginning and ends. These openings are where the voles have dug underground.
Unfortunately, voles will also consume the roots of your plants and vegetables. This damage will cause the plants to slowly die. During the winter, or when there is a food shortage, the voles will begin eating the bark on your trees and shrubs. Loss of bark could lead to the plant’s death.
In most cases, voles will not seek food or shelter inside your home because they prefer the vegetation that is in your yard. However, if they can’t find food outside, the vole may have no choice but to enter your house.
Keeping Voles Out of Your Yard
The best way to prevent voles from destroying your lawn, eating your vegetable roots and potentially killing your young trees is to keep them out of your yard. In the summer, keep your grass mowed, and avoid planting any types of low-growing ground cover, such as mondo grass, lamb's ear or deadnettle. Dense foliage and grass is the ideal place for voles to seek shelter or build a nest.
Avoid overplanting your garden, and keep the weeds under control. Once again, if you have a lot of ground cover, the voles will be attracted to your garden, as well. If these actions do not deter voles, consider fencing in your garden. The best option is to use a mesh fencing. Sink the fencing at least three to six inches under the ground. The fence should also sit at least 4 to 12 inches above the ground, as well.
To prevent voles from eating the bark on your trees during the cold months when food is scarce, create a gap between the mulch and your trees. Also, if you notice any vole damage, wrap the bottom of your tree trunks with hardware cloth, cardboard tree wrap or a plastic tree wrap protector. These protective coverings will keep your trees healthy.
How to Get Rid of Voles
Unfortunately, if voles have already invaded your lawn and garden, you must take the necessary steps to get them out. One of the most cost-effective ways to catch voles in your lawn or garden is with a trap.
Chances are you won't find a specialized vole trap at your local hardware or home improvement store. Instead, purchase several inexpensive wooden-snap mouse traps. Locate the entrances and exits to the vole runways and set at least two or three traps at each. The traps can be baited with anything that will also attract mice, including peanut butter, a small piece of cheese, a chunk or chocolate or a small amount of dog or cat food.
Check the traps periodically throughout the day, and if you catch a vole, immediately place it inside of a plastic bag. Toss the bag into an outdoor trash can.
If the traps aren't effective, there aren't many other do-it-yourself options that will effectively eliminate voles from your lawn and garden. The best option is to contact a professional to eliminate the voles.
Choose an exterminator that has experience and proper licensing. Additionally, a professional is educated about the habits and diet and will know exactly where and how to attack these destructive rodents.
Voles are pesky, destructive and difficult to eliminate from your lawn and garden. If you've seen voles or their runways in your backyard, or if you suspect you have a pest problem of any kind, don't hesitate to contact the professionals at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management.