Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
Last week, you talked about Moles. Are they the same as Voles?
Actually, moles and voles are quite distinctive. Moles
are "insectivores" (not rodents), that eat insects
and earthworms and ignore plants, Voles are rodents
that are in the same family as rats and mice. Voles
eat green vegetation, grasses, bulbs, roots and
occasionally insects. Beds of Pachysandra, Myrtle or
other evergreen ground covers are perfect places for
voles to live (and eat). In this area, I notice most
vole damage on bulbs and rose bush roots which can
be effectively protected by hardwire cages around
Moles spend most of their time underground, whereas the
opposite is true for voles. Moles and voles look quite different.
Voles look like a mouse with a shorter tail, whereas moles have
webbed feet and look like they don't have any eyes or ears.
Voles are active all year long and are prolific breeders that have
several litters and can produce up to 30 young a year. Moles on the other
hand, generally only have one litter of 5-7 babies a year.
There are several ways to tell if you have a moles or voles.
1. The Holes
On the surface, mole holes are about 2 inches in diameter and
are surrounded by a pile of dirt. Vole holes are generally smaller
(between 1 and 2 inches in diameter) and do not have dirt piled
2. Surface Runways
Voles often have very obvious "surface runways" up to several inches
wide in the surface of your lawn that go from place to place; moles
have underground tunnels that run throughout the lawn.
If you notice a dead plant and it has no root system when you lift it
up out of the ground, you have been visited by a vole.
3. Rings Around Trees
In the winter time, voles often eat bark off trees leaving
bare rings around the tree near the ground; moles do not.
4. Grass Is Eaten
Voles can tunnel under snow along the surface of your lawn and eat turf grass; the damage becomes
apparent when the snow melts. Since they generally only eat the above ground grass shoots, the
grass regrows when the weather warms up.
One method to control voles is to use ordinary mouse
traps baited with peanut butter. Place the mouse
trap perpendicular to the vole runway and cover it
with a protective cardboard box. Check the trap several
times a day and keep trapping until you stop catching
them. The easiest time of year to trap voles is late
winter or fall.
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.