Voles are tiny rodents, about the size of a mouse, that live to eat. If you see raised areas in your yard and garden and chew marks on roots pulled up out of the ground, the voles have moved in. Here is why these creatures are such a pest and how to get rid of them while you have any flowers and garden left.
A Tiny But Destructive Pest
Voles are gray or brown and about seven inches long from nose to tail. They look like a mouse with a short nose. Many types of voles travel on the surface looking for the soft parts of plants near the ground to eat. Other varieties move through tunnels underground where they eat roots and bulbs.
Voles only live eighteen months but, during that time, they can create hundreds of offspring. Females can reproduce at twenty days old and can have eight to twelve litters with eleven pups in each litter during their lifetime. Because these colonies become so big quickly, the members are constantly looking for new food sources.
Identifying Where the Voles Are Active
The surface-active voles create small paths as they move back and forth between the colony and your garden or flower bed. The underground voles dig small tunnels which show up in the yard as long, narrow ridges crisscrossing the yard. At the openings of some of these tunnels in your yard, you'll see partially-eaten plants and roots. Bulbs, which have been pulled up out of the yard, may be scattered around the golf ball sized tunnel openings
Getting Rid of the Voles
You'll need a pest control company to find the colony and kill the reproducing members so the rest will move on. Colonies can break up and form new colonies, which is why a pest control service must find and get rid of a colony before it gets large enough to divide. While you're waiting on the pest control company to come out, there are a few actions you can take to start disrupting the vole's activities:
- Locate the tunnels and dig into them to create a hole. Pour gravel down into the hole. Gravel is painful for the vole to move through so they will avoid those gravel-filled tunnels.
- Fill the entryways into the tunnels with gravel.
- If you have the surface-dwelling variety of voles, place traps baited with apple slices on the paths they wear in the yard. Check the traps a couple times each day, remove any dead voles and reset the traps.
Keeping Voles Out of Your Yard
You also want to make your yard less appealing for the voles to consider setting up a colony.
- Mix coarse gravel into the dirt in your garden and flower beds to make the ground difficult for the voles to dig through.
- Dig a trench around your garden and flower beds and fill it with a few inches of gravel. This is an effective barrier to voles from trying to dig tunnels into these areas.
- Use garden wire over newly planted areas so the voles can't dig up the seeds or bulbs.