Voles in Richmond Yards

Are the roots of your plants chewed off? Do you notice small holes in your plant beds next to your dead plants? If so, check the roots. There are many reasons plant can die, but cheded of roots indicate a vole problem.

Call Critter Control of Richmond today and have one of our Wildlife Professionals assess and treat your vole in yard, vole in garden, voles in lawn, or voles in plant ped problem!

 

VOLES

 

Introduction

            There are many different types of voles.  The type that causes the most problems in our area is the pine vole.  Voles are rodents.  They are mouse-sized, or a bit larger, but with shorter ears and tails than mice.  Pine voles are reddish brown with lighter colored bellies, and a rounded face (similar to a hamster).  Many people mistake shrews for voles.  Shrews are dark gray or nearly black, mouse-sized, and have distinctly pointed faces.  Shrews are a very common, native woodland animal which are generally harmless.

 

Biology

            Voles have incredible reproductive capacity.  In the south, they will produce young year round.  Females usually have three to five litters per year with three to six young per litter.  Populations vary considerably, from two to twenty per acre.  Populations tend to peak every three to four years.

 

Habits/Damage

            Pine voles live in wooded areas.  Contrary to what the name implies, they are more common in hardwoods than in pines.  Pine voles eat primarily roots, bulbs, tubers and seeds.  They can kill small plants by completely devouring the roots or by girdling the plant at the root collar.  Pine voles can be a serious pest to ornamental plantings.  Other times, they live in a given yard for years without causing any significant damage.  Their presence, in part, is advertised by one inch diameter holes in the mulch beds, flower beds, and around trees and bushes.  Do not mistake vole holes with the shallow holes made by squirrels digging up nuts.  Also, shrews and mice can also make holes similar to vole holes.  Pine voles also use mole tunnels to travel around, with the mole getting the blame for the voles’ damage.  When voles do kill a plant, there will be obvious teeth marks on the stem or remaining roots.  Voles get blamed for killing a lot of plants which die from other causes.  Do not assume that just because something goes wrong with the plant’s roots that it is voles; look for those teeth marks.

 Control

            Voles are notoriously hard to control.  We use a poisoned grain bait to control voles.  It is a restricted-use pesticide which is manufactured by the United States Department of Agriculture.  We have found this product to be very effective.  This bait is placed underground in the voles’ tunnel system by dropping it down the vole holes, which are actually vertical shafts leading to a tunnel running horizontally 1-4 inches below ground.  We also make small openings in the tops of mole tunnels to drop the bait into their tunnel system since voles often travel there as well. The bait is relatively short lived and needs to be reapplied on a regular basis to maintain control.  Generally speaking, every three months is about right, although heavily infested areas may need treatments every month.

            Many homeowners have good success at deterring voles by using sharp gravel which is either mixed with the soil when planting, or sprinkled generously around established plants, almost like a mulch.  You should be able to find sharp gravel soil amendments such as “Permatill” or “Volebloc” at your local garden center.  A cheaper source of sharp gravel is “layer grit,” which is crushed stone fed to chickens.  Check with local feed stores (“Feed Dealers” in the yellow pages) for a source.  We see less vole damage in beds mulched with bark nuggets or stone, so converting to these mulches may be worth consideration.  Some homeowners have success trapping voles using mouse snap traps.  Bait the trap with a slice of apple or sweet potato, place it beside a vole hole, and cover with a flower pot.  If nothing is caught in two days, refresh the bait and move it to a new hole.  This generally only works if you have a small number of holes and a large amount of time.

 

Critter Control of Richmond provides service to the following cities:

Ashland | Chester | Chesterfield | Colonial Heights | Glen Allen | Henrico

Highland Springs | Hopewell | Manakin Sabot | Mechanicsville | Midlothian

Moseley | Petersburg  | Powhatan | Richmond | Sandston | Varina 

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