difference between voles and mice

Catch of the Week: Voles in Ankeny

May 22, 2019

Our pest control technician recently spotted an unusual pest in the Ankeny area. Voles are not a very well-known pest because of their similarities to other creatures like mice and moles, but they can do some damage. Voles are typically spotted in the spring once the snow melts away and reveals the tunnels they leave behind on the lawn. Find out how our pest experts handle a vole infestation.

How to Spot Vole Damage

Vole Damage on the Lawn: If you’re noticing multiple pathways within your lawn that have dead grass or plant debris, you probably have a vole problem. Voles construct visible runways above or near the surface along with tiny burrowing holes that lead to feeding areas, like the image shown with our blog. These runways form when voles eat the grass blades and then use the same path to get from one feeding spot to the next.

Vole Damage to Landscaping: Another clear sign of vole damage is unhealthy or leaning shrubs or trees. Voles burrow into the root systems of these larger plants and can cause major issues. If you suspect voles are digging into your landscaping, check for small gnaw marks along the bark and plants.

Vole Damage in the Garden: Gardeners can get very frustrated with the many pests that ruin their hard work, and voles are a common threat. These rodents will eat perennials, spring bulbs and root crops. If you’re seeing partially eaten or missing bulbs, potatoes or carrots, a vole might be the culprit.

The Preferred Pest Control team had a large commercial client that planted 6,000 bulbs and discovered most of them were destroyed by voles. They acted quickly and called us to establish a plan to eradicate these pests, but unfortunately, they had to replant all of the bulbs. We’ll discuss some of the vole extermination tactics below.

Prevention & Extermination Tactics to Get Rid of Voles

Like many outdoor pests, you can prevent voles from being attracted to your lawn by tidying up your yard, removing food sources or debris and choosing to landscape with rocks and gravel instead of wood and mulch. Taking these steps to make your yard less appealing to outdoor critters will help ward them off.

If you do notice vole damage, we recommend calling a professional to handle the eradication of these pests. Many rodents can carry harmful diseases and can be difficult for homeowners to get rid of humanely. Instead of putting your kids or pets at risk by scattering the lawn with poison, repellant or mouse traps, hire a pest control technician to take care of the problem.

Preferred Pest Control uses tamper-resistant bait stations to capture the voles. To prevent children and pets from gaining access to the vole bait in the stations, these traps have a locking lid that can only be opened by our employees. The stations are also specifically designed for vole control, so other wildlife cannot get inside. Once the bait station has been there a couple weeks, our technicians will come back to check for vole activity.

how to get rid of voles

What’s The Difference Between Voles and Mice?

With so many similarities between these two small rodents, it can be difficult for most people to tell them apart. Many homeowners believe they see mice in their yard and are not bothered by them, but voles can cause issues that leave behind an unsightly lawn. There are a few major distinctions to know the difference between voles and mice:

  • Mice have large eyes and ears. Voles’ features, especially their ears, are small in comparison.
  • The tail of a mouse can extend nearly twice its body length, while a vole tail is much shorter. The long-tailed vole is most commonly mistaken for a mouse.
  • Many rodents can be identified by their snouts. Mice have a more pointed nose, and voles have the most rounded snout.

Des Moines Rodent Removal

If you notice any damage to your lawn this spring season, contact the experts at Preferred Pest Control! We have specific pest control methods in place to get rid of voles and other pests. Call us at (515) 276-7277 or schedule an appointment online today.


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