Although many homeowners are familiar with moles, many are unaware of what Voles are, how to identify them, and the damage they can cause.
Voles are little mouse-like rodents that inhabit the wild and are related to hamsters and lemmings.
Voles are also referred to as meadow mice, meadow, woodland, or garden voles, but are essentially the same rodent.
Voles damage trees, lawns, and gardens while consuming seeds, grasslands, herbaceous plants, flowers, tubers (flower bulbs), and tree bark, consuming seeds, grasslands, herbaceous plants, flowers, tubers (flower bulbs), and tree bark.
Taking away Voles’ food supplies and using traps or repellents are the quickest ways to eliminate them permanently.
Voles are drawn to gardens with a lot of plant debris because it makes it easy to provide them with food and a place to hang out. Yards with more clutter are also more prone to have vole infestations.
At or close to the ground’s surface, voles build well-defined, 2-inch-wide crisscrossing tunnels or “runways.” The runways are caused by the voles consuming perennial plants and grassroots, as well as the steady movement of many little feet traveling the same path 🙂
The vole is a common lawn pest that effectively “rips paths” through your yard and garden.
While moles and voles have many similarities, voles tend to be more damaging to plants, while moles eat grubs and earthworms and dig vast and deeper underground tunnels. Both pests, however, will destroy lawns if left alone.
What is a Vole?
According to “Britannica,” The word “Vole” refers to a species of small-bodied, mouse-like rodents found in the Northern Hemisphere. Voles are grouped with lemmings in the family Cricetidae subfamily Arvicolinae.
Nevertheless, the proportion of vole species varies according to taxonomies, with some naming about 70 species and many others citing well over 100.
Woodland Voles primarily stay in heavily wooded areas and cause more destruction to tree roots underground.
What Does a Vole Look Like?
To help you visually identify this common yard pest, Voles have small eyes and ears, a tail shorter than the body, and a blunt, as opposed to a tapering, nose. See the Vole photo below.
Where Do Voles Live?
Voles are prolific and located in various environments, ranging from sea level to tall mountain elevations. Voles live throughout North America and are found anywhere there are good growing conditions.
Voles build their burrows and lay a network of runways over your lawn when they are not using the moles’ tunnels.
What Do Voles Eat?
Voles have a veracious appetite, eating up to 75% of their body weight daily.
A vole’s main diet consists of plants, plant roots, and garden vegetables, but they also graze on the soft bark of trees, which is especially dangerous to immature trees.
When voles eat bark from trees, especially young-growth trees, they can do considerable harm, called “Girdling.”
Girdling, caused by Voles – leaves a ring of exposed wood, leading to rot or insect infestation, eventually killing the tree.
How to Get Rid of Voles?
These methods for removing voles are considered “humane” and will not physically harm the animals.
1) Making Yard & Garden “Vole Proof”
Michigan State University recommends, first and foremost, making the environment in your yard less inviting – as the best step to take while attempting to get rid of voles.
- Start by clearing your yard of mounds of leaves, logs, tall grass, and other piles of natural materials – since voles prefer to build their nests in any of these materials.
- Voles also enjoy eating berries and seeds. Gather all the fallen fruit regularly, assuming you have ripe berries falling to the ground.
- Additionally, Ensure any birdfeeder seed you keep outside is stored in a closed container.
- Install wire mesh all around the trunk of young trees to provide protection.
- Be sure to dig 2- 3″ below ground when installing wire mesh, as this depth is their favorite area to target.
- Wire mesh will greatly discourage voles from nibbling and damaging trees.
- Mow your Lawn very short at the Last Mowing of the Fall Season (Before Winter)
2) Remove Vole Habitat:
Voles seek refuge in your garden and yard to find food and avoid dangerous predators. They can conceal themselves inside the runways or behind the long grass on your lawn.
To prevent an infestation, you should make your grass less inviting to these pests.
- The first step is to clear abandoned or unused vegetation around your lawn, which voles can nest in.
- Keep the grass height lower until you resolve the vole problem.
- Cut the grass routinely, at least 1-2 times weekly.
- Remove any fallen fruit on the ground and rake up dried leaves as quickly as practical.
3) Vole Repellent spray (Get rid of Voles Naturally)
The Wildlife Removal publication suggests that voles detest the scent of castor oil and capsaicin, a compound found in hot peppers. Voles will be repelled with a spray consisting of either of these compounds.
Using household ingredients, you can combine dish soap and water with diced spicy peppers to create a natural vole deterrent spray. Use a garden sprayer to spray the vicinity of the garden and any remaining brush piles, which voles prefer to hide in.
Additionally, you can use Mole & Vole Castor Oil Repellent concentrate (mixed with water) to cover up to 5,000 square feet of lawn and garden.
You should re-apply the spray every week or so, particularly if there has been raining. It works well to steer voles away from your lawn as they look for new homes.
How To Kill Voles
The “catch-and-release (humane) method may not eliminate your vole problems if you have a significant Vole infestation. You can use mouse-like methods for the extermination and the quick dispatch of voles.
In those cases, traditional mouse traps are very efficient and inexpensive for trapping and killing voles.
Caution: Mouse traps will kill voles but should be well-positioned away from areas where people or animals walk or wander since they could injure people’s toes and the paws of pets.
Additionally, you can use poisonous “Bait Stations” to kill voles. Voles eat the bait, digest the poison and die quickly. Be sure that the bait stations you use are designed with a Lock and Key preventing child access to the bait.
Place “Bait Stations” Before Winter
Many ask, “How to Get rid of Voles in Winter” because of those dreadful tracks they find in their yard every spring.
The answer is to “Prepare Before Winter Arrives.” Place Bait Stations (with poisonous Vole bait) in Lawn or Garden areas before winter where Vole activity has been prevalent during Spring, Summer, or Fall. Voles feed all year – hiding undetected below snow all winter long.
Optional Method: Use “Humane” Vole Traps
Live Vole traps are effective options if you’re looking for a humane way to eliminate voles from your yard.
These live traps include trigger plates that, when activated, cause the trap door to close behind them.
Once trapped, the vole can be safely moved and released away from your yard.
Note: While “live traps” can effectively remove a few voles from your yard, this method may not be sufficient for excessive vole activity.
Per the instructions above, we certainly hope we’ve helped you learn How to get rid of Voles in your yard or garden.
Remember to eliminate the nesting materials that Voles seek to hide in and nest. Secondly, reduce or eliminate the “food source” that Voles require to satisfy their enormous appetite.
Lastly, consider the type of Vole Traps that are right for you and your vole infestation.
Contacting a reputable pest control firm could be the best option if you have a significant vole infestation. It can be a hard struggle if you try to get rid of voles on your own, but experts have the knowledge and equipment to do it swiftly and efficiently.
Have a professional handle the vole removal if you don’t want to lose an entire gardening season – Getting rid of Voles!
References & Additional Resources
- Woodland Mole Damage – Penn State University
- Identifying and Removing Ants – University of Minnesota
- How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs – Besthomegear.com
- How to Avoid insecticide poisoning in dogs and cats – Petcarerx.com
- How To Get Rid of Gnats Indoors – Besthomegear.com