Vole Damage: Guide To Identification & Prevention

We’ll be discussing vole damage as well as how best to manage the situation. You’ll want to stick around to find out more.

Homeowners are more likely than not to grow plants around their homes. Such plants include trees, shrubs, flowers as well as lawns. These always enhance or beautify home surroundings.

However, vole damage is one problem faced by their presence.

If you’re noticing a lot of damage to plant roots as well as to spring bulbs & tubers and bark of shrubs and trees, chances are that there’s vole activity.

What Are Voles?

Voles are rodents known to have a special affinity for groundcover.

They cause all sorts of problems for homeowners due to their feeding activity or behavior. You’re likely to notice such damages on grass, plant & tree roots as well as on bulbs.

Do voles exclusively feed on vegetation? Although they’re known to have a strong preference for vegetation, voles will occasionally feed on snails and insects.

These rodents use ground cover to reach plant roots. Voles are even known to use tunnels created by moles to their advantage. Several vole species include meadow vole, prairie vole, pine as well as long-tailed voles.

Other species include Oregon vole, montane vole, and California vole. Generally, voles measure about 4 to 9” long in size. This length includes their tail.

You can identify them by their features which include the blunt nose, round stout body, and short legs and tail.

Voles either have grey or brown fur. Their eyes are tiny and covered with fur. Out of the 124 known vole species, 23 are native to the United States.

What Makes Vole Presence Even More Worrisome

Vole presence creates a whole lot of problems for homeowners due to their activities. There’s also their breeding and burrowing behavior to be worried about.

In further explaining vole activity, these rodents never hibernate. In other words, voles are active all through the year.

To better explain their activity, voles are active night and day, and all year round. This will be disturbing news to homeowners who have noticed characteristic damage indicating vole presence.

  • Breeding

Voles are prolific breeders who reproduce at an alarming rate.

With favorable conditions, voles reproduce all year round. You’ll find these rodents reproducing from 5 to 10 litters each year. Each litter has about 3 to 6 young.

This is a problem you want to avoid at all costs to save your plants.

  • Burrowing

Remember we earlier mentioned vole preference for groundcover. These rodents will either dig new tunnel systems or use existing systems dug by moles or other burrowing creatures.

The tunnels are mainly used for protection and shelter. These connect to their hideouts from where they gain access to your garden.

In some cases, tunnels may not necessarily be below-ground. This is mostly the case with snow. Voles burrow through the snow to get to their target plants or root systems.

Identifying Vole Damage

A lot of times, people are a bit confused when it comes to identifying vole damage.

Not knowing what to look out for may result in a wrong association. In other words, you’re likely to wrongly attribute vole damage to mole or groundhog presence among other creatures.

You can hardly pinpoint the specific problem by simply guessing. Voles operate under groundcover.

As such, there’s no way of guessing what the problem is. You’ll need to further investigate by looking out for the following signs.

To identify vole damage, you’ll need to look out for certain signs that include stolen bulbs, surface runways (consisting of trampled soil or grass measuring 1 to 2” in width), and yellow wilted plants.

Others include neat burrows or holes in the lawn measuring 1.5” in diameter.

One of the most important signs of vole activity is damaged root. This situation impacts negatively on plants barks and stems aren’t left out. You’re likely to find girded stems or barks with irregular gnaw marks.

Such gnaw marks have an irregular pattern and measure about 1/16” deep, 1/8” wide, and 3/8” long. A confluence of these signs mentioned above points to the possibility of vole presence.

Dealing With Vole Damage

Having identified vole presence through their destructive activity, the next logical action to take involves getting rid of them. There are lots of ways to do this and prevent damage and we’ll provide these strategies right here.

They include exclusion, the use of repellents, and the reduction of cover and food.

Another method includes the use of live traps. These are all humane ways to combat vole damage. To better understand what each strategy entails, let’s take a look at them as follows;

  • Exclusion

As the name implies, this action involves keeping these rodents out from damage-prone areas. This is achieved through the installation of barriers. For this to be successful, you’ll need to use the right materials.

Fencing is one exclusion technique that should be done with a wire mesh having small holes. Such mesh spacing should measure around ¼” or less for the best results.

The use of tree guards is another excellent exclusion technique. Here, tree bases are wrapped with 1/4” wire mesh.

  • Use of Repellents

There are vole repellents that can be deployed for the desired impact. One excellent repellent product is castor oil.

This helps give vegetation an unpleasant taste when munched on. The odor given off by castor oil is also unpleasant to voles. There are lots of castor-based repellents to consider.

You’ll need to follow the use instructions of this product for the best results. These can be diluted and sprayed on lawn soil.

  • Reduction of Cover & Food

Voles are known to thrive wherever there are ample groundcover and food supply.

This understanding helps you take the needed steps to keep them out. The ideal actions to take here include cleaning up all fallen seeds like nuts, bird seeds, and berries.

Other actions include removing all weeds and regular lawn mowing. Tunnels or burrows are always present whenever voles are around. Therefore, consider tilling soil and mulching to get rid of them.

Identify and remove all possible groundcover used by these creatures.

Such groundcover includes shrubs, brush, and low-lying bushes among other similar vegetation. Doing so eliminates hideouts making your surroundings unsuitable.

  • Use of Live Traps

Live traps are quite effective when it comes to vole control. You’ll need to safely relocate these rodents once they’re caught. Frequent inspection is necessary to ensure trapped voles aren’t unnecessarily stressed.

Vole damage is a problem faced by a lot of homeowners. This is mostly due to their feeding activity. All of these can be taken care of through the adoption of effective control methods.

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