Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > April 2013 > GARDEN TALK with DOUG - Those menacing VOLES!

GARDEN TALK with DOUG - Those menacing VOLES!

“Help!  I am losing my plants.  They are just falling over.  And, I can watch some just shaking in the ground”.

 

            Classic examples of vole damage to plants are to find plants with no roots and gnawing at the base of the trunk.

 

            Over the years talking about voles has been the most challenging topic for any horticulturist.  I, like some of my colleagues, cringe when the question about voles is asked. We cringe because there is never a simple, short answer.  We are not sure how or where to begin our conversation without causing confusion and panic.  Customers want a quick and simple solution to their vole problem.  I wish I had a quick remedy to share right now.  But a quick remedy does not exist.

 

            A successful campaign to get rid of voles starts with education  here are some facts about voles that you need to know:

                        1.  Voles are sometimes referred to as meadow mice.

2.  Voles have a compact body with short legs and measure 5” to 8” long   including the tail.

3.  Voles are herbivores – feeding on grass, roots of plants, bulbs, tubers, and will eat bark off of shrubs and trees.

4.  Voles spend most of their time under ground in their burrow system.       However, they do surface and scurry around from hole to hole.

                        5.  Voles are active day and night year round.

                        6.  Voles breed all year but mostly in the spring.

                        7.  A female vole matures in 30 days and can have 5 to 10 litters a year with litter size ranging from 3 to 6 pups.

                        8.  On a good note…voles seldom live past 12 months.

 

            If I stop at this point I would leave you frustrated and confused with this information.  But, it is with these facts that we can put together a strategy to rid, or reduce, voles from your landscape.

 

            To prevent, eliminate, or reduce vole damage, you need to mange the population.  Keep in mind that there is not just one easy remedy to your vole problem.

1.      Make their habitat less suitable.  You may need to remove or reduce thick, vegetative ground cover, such as ivy, periwinkle.  Also, thick layer of mulch is a haven for voles to be happy.  By reducing or removing ground cover or mulch will expose the voles to some natural predators when they decide to surface.

2.      Some natural predators of voles are snakes, hawks, owls, cats, and dogs.  So, be happy to see a snake or encourage cats to roam your grounds.

3.      Buy inexpensive mice traps.  Place traps near the small, quarter-size holes.  Bait the traps with some food such as apple.  Cover the traps by using something like plastic pots.

4.      Dropping toxic bait down the holes can be a means of control.

5.      Installing vole block products, such as Permatil, can protect plants from damage.  Permatil is a stone product.  Voles do not like to dig through stone.

6.      Use wire cages around the root system of newly planted plants to protect the root structure from being eaten.  The mesh size needs to be ¼” or less to be effective.

7.      Wire fencing, with mesh size ¼” or less, placed underground 6” or more can protect entire gardens from vole invasion.

 

 

Fumigating or flooding their burrows tend to be ineffective in eradicating voles from your landscape.

 

In summary, do everything to make vole residency in your landscape as uncomfortable for them as possible.  Be diligent with your management campaign.  Your efforts will reduce the population of voles and the eventual damage done to your landscape plants.  There are many success stories.  I want you to be a success.

Posted: 4/17/2013 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: DougHensel, GardenTalkWithDoug
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