Voles have been busy this winter wreaking havoc on many yards and trees. Voles do not hibernate so while we were enjoying the beautiful snow, they were underneath doing some serious damage.
The average size of a vole is 4-9" long and about 2 oz. They have a round, stout body and have grey or brown fur. Their tails and legs are short and they have a blunt nose and tiny eyes. (disgusting little rodents). The average life span is about 3-6 months.
The vole's home range is not usually larger than 1/4 acre. They like dense ground cover and voles commonly spend much of their time underground. They create complex burrow systems where they nest and feed on vegetation These nasty little buggers are some of the most prolific breeders in the rodent family. They can product 5-10 litters per year with 3-6 young per litter. They reproduce the entire year.
6 Common signs of vole damage include:
1. Yellow, wilted plants
2. Missing bulbs
3. Damaged roots, which can kill trees, or cause delayed or lack of fruit production
4. Holes in the yard. They are about 1.5" in diameter and are clean, round holes. (often in line with surface runways)
5. Irregular gnaw marks about 1/8"wide along the very bottom of plants and trees and girdled bark and stems.
6. Surface runways
With the snow melting, many people are realizing they have a serious problem. If you see any of the above damage in your yard the culprit is most likely Voles. These prevention methods can help so voles don't take over your yard.
Mow grass so it is short
Eliminate as much ground cover and dense vegetation around the home. This is what provides shelter and food for the voles.
Minimize the amount of mulch in your yard.
Protect young trees and shrubs with a 12-inch tall fence made of hardware cloth. Bury the cloth three inches into the ground to create a barrier that will keep voles away.