As small rodents, it is easy to think that voles are mice because of the similarities in their physical characteristics. Their size ranges from 5 to 8 inches upon reaching maturity. It is almost the same as the size of a mouse, with the only difference being the fact that the hairless tail is shorter. They are also darker in color, which is often brown or black. They have a sturdy and rounded body. Voles have small eyes and ears are hidden partially. Another notable characteristic is having sharp incisor teeth, which give them the ability to chew on a wide array of hosts.
There are more than 70 species of voles and their habitat can vary from one another. Most of them, however, will prefer to live in a location that is shrubby and grassy. They are also common in the woods. Voles can also coexist with humans, which is why they can also survive in the garden and even indoors. They can be seen hiding in crop fields, which they will eventually damage. Aside from thick vegetation, they can also live underground. They create holes and tunnels to provide them with a suitable shelter. Voles are active throughout the year. There is no period of hibernation, even during the winter season.
Identifying Vole’s Damage
Similar to mice, voles are also vegetarian. They eat a wide array of fruits, vegetables, berries, bulbs, seeds, grass, tubers, and nuts. With their strong teeth, they can eat even tree bark. They will also eat flower bulbs and field crops. They can eat almost any part of the host plant, with some of the most common being roots, leaves, and shoots. To be specific, some of the most common plants that they eat include artichoke, brussels sprouts, turnip, tomato, sweet potato, spinach, lettuce, celery, cauliflower, and carrots.
Watch out for the following signs, which will give you clues that voles are present in the garden:
- There will be holes on the surface, which result from the digging of voles. The holes will have a diameter of up to 2 inches, which are usually hidden beneath shrubs or mulches. There will also be trails, which will be indicative of the pathways of voles.
- The plants can also possibly collapse because of the infestation of voles. This is because they become weak and they are unable to receive the nutrients that are essential for their survival.
- In trees, pay attention to the bark. Voles can also chew them and will result to stripping.
Results of Infestation
Voles have the reputation of being relentless eaters. They can eat almost any plant that you have in the garden. They can lead to cosmetic damages. They will not only make the plants unattractive, but can also restrict the flow of nutrients. Because of their digging activity, they can make plants weaker by reducing their stand density. In some cases, they will make the crops unmarketable because of partial eating or chewing. In the lawn, on the other hand, they will make the surface unattractive because of the holes that they create to build underground tunnels.
How to Get Rid of Voles
Natural and Organic Solutions
Below are some of the most promising solutions that will be effective in making sure that voles will not give you a headache:
- Among others, one of the best solutions is habitat modification. This is all about the conscious modification of the surroundings, making it less attractive to voles. Be sure that they do not have food sources. Also, clear anything that can provide them protection from their predators. Removing bird feeders will also help.
- In line with habitat modification, keeping the garden clean is one of the most important. Mowing will be good as it prevents the grass from being too tall. When the grass is longer, it will be easier for voles to escape and to make significant damages while being hard to notice. Through mowing, it is also possible to destroy their habitat under the ground.
- Exclusion is another solution that can be impressive. Fencing is one of the best things to do. Make sure that there are no small holes that can serve as entry points for the voles. Woven-wire mesh and hardware cloth are some of the best materials.
- You might also want to consider trapping. This is a good solution if the population is small and if they mostly live in a single area. Use 12 to 50 traps, depending on the size of your garden. A wooden mouse trap is a simple example of a good trap. To make it more effective, do not forget to add food that will serve as bait. To add, be sure that it is in an ideal location.
- Placing sharp materials will also be a good solution. Dig the soil and place coarse gravel. This will make it uncomfortable for the voles to make tunnels on the ground.
- Encouraging predators in the garden will also be a good idea. These natural enemies will help in the elimination of voles. If you have a pet cat, the latter can extend a helping hand. Foxes, weasels, owls, coyotes, and gulls will also be great.
- If you want to get rid of voles indoors, on the other hands, the use of an ultrasonic device will be a good solution to consider. The latter emits high-frequency sound that can annoy voles, and hence, they will stay out of the area.
When it comes to the chemical control of voles, there are two product categories that are available in the market – General Use Pesticide and Restricted Use Pesticide. The latter is available for purchase only amongst people with pesticide applicator license. Regardless of which pesticide will be used, keep in mind that they contain toxic ingredients. It is important to be careful in their application and to read the label to know how to do it right.
Among others, warfarin is the lone ingredient in General Use Pesticides that are good for voles. For Restricted Use Pesticides, on the other hand, some of the most common active ingredients include chlorophacinone and zinc phosphide. To be specific, some of the products with these ingredients include Rozol, Ramuzide, Pollux, Phosvin, Topitox, and Ratomet.