You may have heard of voles or maybe even seen them without realizing what they were. Now is the perfect time to learn about them before you have an infestation on your hands and discover how much damage they can do to your lawn this winter.
How do I identify a vole?
A vole is a relative of the mouse. Sometimes they are even called “meadow mice” or “field mice,” but voles are their own species. Compared to a common mouse, voles have a thicker body with a shorter hairy tail. Their heads are also rounder with smaller eyes and ears. Voles can range in size from 3-9 inches long. Like mice, voles breed very quickly, producing as many as 100 offspring in one year. A small vole problem can turn into a major infestation in no time at all.
How do I know if I have a vole problem?
Apart from actually seeing the vole, there is other evidence to let you know that you may have a problem. Voles eat grass, plants, roots, and even small grubs or earthworms. To reach the food, they dig well-defined tunnels near the surface of the ground. These tunnels are narrow (approximately 2” wide) and winding and can be visible in your lawn. Often, these tunnels are most noticeable at the end of winter. Voles do not hibernate, and the insulated layer between the grass and snow is the perfect tunneling area. They can make quite a mess of lawns without the owner even realizing it until Spring. The other sign that you may have voles is called a girdle on a tree. Voles will chew the bark off in a complete ring around a tree. These bands can mean death for the tree, so voles can really wreak havoc on your landscaping and yard.
How can I prevent vole damage?
Once you are aware of voles, there is a lot that can be done to prevent them and the problems they cause.
Protect Your Plants
If you are concerned about voles eating your trees or flower beds, you can install physical barriers that can slow the voles down. Install hardware cloth on the bottom and sides of your beds. This will deter them from tunneling into your beds and eating your plants. For trees, you can wrap this same hardware cloth around the bases. Create a cylinder that can go completely around the tree. Put this cylinder 3-6” into the soil and make it extend about 18” above the ground. This should protect your trees from vole damage.
Take Care of Your Lawn
When trying to protect your lawn from vole damage, start by not overwatering. Super saturated soil is loose and easier to tunnel through. Saturated soils also provide a richer food source of earthworms and grubs that will attract voles. It is also a good idea to try to keep mowing your lawn until the first frost. At that point, you can stop mowing and start mulching your beds. Thick, long grass and heavy mulch creates a great insulating layer that the voles will love to tunnel in, so do not do it too soon. It is also best to keep your gardens and yard weeded and avoid dense ground cover or piles of leaves and grass.
Use Vole Repellents
Like mice, voles can be trapped or poisoned using rodenticide. These are potentially hazardous to animals and children, so many people prefer vole repellents. You can attempt to apply vole repellent yourself, but if the application is not done properly, you may not get the desired results. If you are struggling with vole problems or just want to keep them at bay, call Six Brothers Pest Control to come out and take care of the problem for you. We have trained technicians who know how to handle your pest problems. We guarantee our services so that you can feel confident knowing that your home and yard are taken care of. If you’re not sure what type of rodent you are dealing with, rest assured that we can also take care of rats and mice in Kansas City and the surrounding areas. Give us a call today.