Vole Activity In Lawns

It has been one long winter and the signs of spring are starting to come through! Today a customer sent some images to us:

vole3 vole2

*Images by: Ruby S.

The images show vole surface and some vole subsurface tunneling. These mammals are herbivorous and are active year-round, including during the winter months. Visually, they resemble mice with short tails – and for how small they are, their damage can appear to be big.

The good news:
The turf will usually bounce back on it’s own, you may rake the areas to help this process along, though voles usually will not damage turf roots. Rake and let it grow and correct itself.

The bad news:
Voles gnaw at the bark and stem of many landscape plants and can cause damage, including die back. If you inspect the landscape areas or ornamental plants around the tunneling you may note chew marks, missing bark or damaged plant bases.

How to protect your landscape plants:
Trees and shrubs may be wrapped with a mesh or other protective barrier to help keep voles from chewing on them.

Rake the turf that has been trampled down or chewed off,  it should bounce back.

Once the season warms up:
You should note less activity as their food supply becomes more abundant. Also, voles may go through population booms every few years; so you may notice it one year, though not in others.

Too many voles, what can be done?
You may leave them be, if you want. They will still scurry about and it’s recommended that you wrap your trees or shrubs around the base and truck to protect the bark, trunks and stems.

You may also opt to trap these critters if they are causing damage to your landscape plants:
A cheap mouse trap with oatmeal, peanut butter & a small amount of coco powder will attract the vole. Place the trap near your landscaped plants that are being gnawed at.

It is important to note that there are other animals which may create tunnel systems in the lawn and they will not be attracted to the oatmeal / peanut butter mix: moles & shrews.

For more information about wrapping your plants: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1058&context=vpc14


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