With spring finally here, many of us are ready to get back into our yards and gardens in preparation for the warmer weather ahead. However, sometimes our initial yard inspections may reveal the presence of unwelcome garden pests, such as voles. Leaving the destruction in their wake, voles can wreak quite a bit of havoc if not taken care of immediately. Discover how to identify these pesky lawn rodents and the right way to remove them from your landscape.
What are Voles?
Also known as field or meadow mice, voles are relatively small rodents with stocky bodies, short tails, and legs and are usually gray or brown in color. With 23 vole species in the United States, voles occupy a variety of habitats, such as grasslike plants and heavily grassed areas. Although they prefer "natural" habitats, voles also occupy habitats that are modified by humans such as cultivated fields, orchards, and our very own lawns and gardens.
Behavior and Reproduction in Vole Populations
Voles are very active rodents, going day and night, all year round without hibernation.They breed throughout the year, most commonly in spring and summer, producing 1-5 litters that range from one to 11 offspring. Large population fluctuations are very common of voles, with populations peaking every 2-5 years though these cycles are not predictable.
How to Identify Vole Damage
Most commonly confused with moles, voles create a very different type of damage than their garden pest counterpart. Discover the clues that will alert you of which garden pest you have roaming your landscape.
- Moles. Tunnels or "pathways," created by moles are relatively close to the top of the dirt within your yard or garden. These tunnels are normally about 2 inches in diameter and will feel fragile when walking over them rather than sturdy as the ground should feel like. Mole tunnel entry points will normally be hidden by piles of dirt.
- Voles. The "pathways" established by voles will be obvious and direct, leading from one hole to another. These will normally be lined with clumps of grass, bark, and even fecal matter. Usually between one and two inches in width, the paths are particularly pronounced. A key differentiating point between the two garden pests is that voles do not leave soil heaps behind for you to find.
Seasonal Activity of Voles in Iowa
Vole tracks tend to be found in the spring and fall, with summer being a 'slower' period. It is in the winter that vole colonies will wreak the most havoc on your lawn or garden than any other season. The most damage is due to feeding and vole "traffic," along the runways. Voles will typically dig and mix dirt from the ground with their snow tunnels. With the snow covering their paths, as spring approaches and the snow begins to melt in March and April, vole damage becomes very apparent.
How to Get Rid of Voles
Taking the right precautions and safety measures are extremely important when removing voles from your lawn or garden. At Preferred Pest Control, our three-step process incorporates safety features to eliminate exposure to pets and children while effectively eradicating the voles living in your lawn.
Step 1. Install locked tamper resistant bait boxes with bait specifically designed for vole control. The bait boxes are designed to keep out children, pets, and wildlife.
Step 2. After two weeks, Preferred Pest will return to install additional bait in the stations.
Step 3. Preferred Pest will return one additional time to inspect for any remaining vole activity. If none are observed, the stations are removed, and the job is complete.
Don't let voles cause damage throughout your yard or garden this spring. Let Preferred Pest Control help. Through our safe, three-step process, our pest professionals will remove these destructive lawn rodents effectively and efficiently before they have a chance to create further problems. Set up an appointment today and let Iowa's leading pest control service put your mind at ease!