Voles – Not the Best Time for Control

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Rarely a day goes by when a call doesn’t come in to the office about voles. They’re tiny but destructive and any plant that you value is in danger. Pine voles work from under the ground and most times the damage is done before the homeowner even knows there is a problem. These small, field mouse-like rodents spend their entire lives in tunnels beneath the surface of the soil. They search out tender plant roots and stems and are active at all times of the year-  no hibernation for these pests.

There are few poisons or baits available for homeowners to use on the pine vole, although a bait product called Rozol is available at some area stores that can be moderately successful. Spring is not the best time of year to control voles because of the good supply of other food sources. Valued plants can be planted in raised beds with a screen bottom. Some plants such as hostas (a vole delicacy) can be potted into plastic pots and the entire pot can then be planted. But, the controls are limited.

There is, however, another pretty good technique that can drastically diminish your vole population. Timing is the key to this solution. We know that voles feed year round. In the summer months, tender plants are plentiful but in the winter when plants are dormant, there is not nearly so much for the vole to choose from as most plants are dormant for the winter. So, from November until March voles can be tempted with a mousetrap that has been baited with fresh apples and peanut butter. Get several mousetraps and set them next to vole holes after baiting the trap with pieces of raw apples and peanut butter. Cover the hole and the trap with a bucket. The trap must be in the dark or the vole will not be tempted. Continue to trap voles all through the winter, moving traps to different holes. If you are vigilant, you can have your problem cleaned up by spring.

If voles are a problem in your landscape, unfortunately now is not the best time to take action with the trapping method. Gather your supplies together while you are thinking about the problem and have everything ready for November. Then, get busy and attack next year’s vole problem before they have a chance to devastate next year’s landscape.

volehole

Vole holes in the lawn

Pine Vole

Pine Vole

cat-caught-vole-web

Best Defense Against Voles? Get A CAT!

Written By

Photo of Donna TeasleyDonna TeasleyExtension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture (828) 439-4460 Donna_Teasley@ncsu.eduBurke County, North Carolina
Posted on Apr 4, 2016
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