Do you know what voles are? They are kind of cute little meadow mice with short tails. While I hate to kill anything (even spiders!), these little mammals can eat up my crops, wreck my sod, and make tunnels that disrupt other plant root systems. Voles and plants are like oil and water, they just don’t mix. Vole deterrents are the first line of defense and may even help more than baits and poison.
Dealing with Vole Problems
Our new home came with a batch of vole bait. That should have been a clue, but we had no vole problems last summer, so it didn’t occur to me to use the stuff. The first sign of an issue came when our smallest cat presented me with a headless little body. I appreciated the present but still didn’t clue in that I should be doing something. That is, not until I started the vegetable garden. Overnight, entire plants would be missing. It was definitely more than cutworms, could be birds, but was most probably voles.
We have five new fruit trees. I could also see the damage at the base of their trunks. Small scraped marks made by voles gnawing on the wood. Apparently, voles eat bark and roots of trees, primarily in winter and fall. Thankfully, it seems they didn’t eat the roots yet, as the trees seem to still be healthy.
Also, when I started my mowing program again in spring, I could observe the tunnels under the sod. Before I had huge vole problems, I needed to take action.
We don’t do any chemical controls in our landscape. That meant no purchased vole deterrents. I needed a natural way to protect my plants from the critters. Voles and plants are not a successful recipe, so I had to do something ASAP. After reading up on the rodents, I came up with a 4-part plan:
- Remove mulch away from plant stems
- Wrap new tree stems
- Weed-whack neighbor’s untended yard
- Fix holes in fence
Once all that had been accomplished, I also ordered live traps. These were baited using peanut butter and succeeded in catching several of the rodents. I took the traps out into the fields around town and released the little pests.
To date, it seems that my actions were in time and stopped any future voles in the garden. We also have plenty of wild animals that eat voles, as well as my posse of cats who think they are fun and tasty. Because a feral cat had babies on our patio, we have put up a hawk statue and fluttering metallic string to deter the neighboring owl.
That is probably why the voles started showing up in force. Once the kittens are gone and the owl can have his way again, I’m sure any vole that dares to come onto my property will be quickly snatched up and eaten. I almost feel sorry for the voles.