When you have worked hard to cultivate a garden of vegetables that you plan to harvest for kitchen use, the last thing you want is for pests to come along and eat up or destroy your bounty. If you begin to notice that your leafy edibles and root vegetables are disappearing, you may have a vole infestation in your yard. The following guide can help you identify voles and begin a plan of action to eradicate the pests from your yard.
Appearance and Habits
Like moles and mice, voles are small furry creatures. Also known as meadow mice, mature voles are brown or gray. They are between five to eight inches long and have tiny ears and a short tail. If you are trying to find out if the rodents in your yard are voles or mice, look at the tail. Mice have long tails.
The eyes of the pests are very small and the creatures have a short, blunt nose. Species of voles can be found all across North America. So no matter where you live, you may have to contend with these pests if you plan to grow a vegetable garden or fruit orchard.
Voles burrow underground. They create tunnels in your yard and construct subterranean nests. They also reproduce year round but are especially active in breeding during the spring. They birth up to ten litters per year of three to six babies.
Signs of Damage
While they will not invade the interior of your home, voles will wreak havoc on all kinds of edible plants, including fruit trees. They are not good at climbing, so they will not invade the upper levels of plants. However, they can cause severe damage to tree roots.
Voles are active day and night, eating leaves, biting pieces of fruit tree trunks and destroying plant roots. The damage impedes the flow of water to the rest of the plant and deprives it of essential nutrients.
If you have bulb plants, such as dahlias or tulips, voles will also eat the bulbs and the beautiful flowers will never bloom.
If you spend a lot of time outside, you will see voles scurrying around, looking for food or hauling their bounty to underground nests. Look for trails of debris and droppings so you can trace the path of their surface runways and find entrances to their underground tunnels.
Vole Pest Control
Natural predators of voles include hawks, owls, snakes and cats. If you have a severe vole infestation and you like cats, adopt a feline pal to help you control the spread of the garden pests.
However, since voles are prolific breeders, you will need to do more than release a cat into your yard to get rid of the pests.
As soon as you notice signs of voles, you need to take action. They can quickly take over a garden. Unfortunately, commercial repellents that you purchase from gardening shops do little to get rid of voles.
A licensed exterminator will devise an integrated pest management program to help you get rid of the voles. A combination of bait traps, ultrasonic devices, fumigation of vole tunnels and natural controls is the best way to rid your yard of voles. Exterminators also have access to effective chemicals that are not available to consumers.
The pest control specialists may have to make a few visits to your home for bait application and to monitor the progress of eliminating the vole population. In the meantime, you should keep your garden immaculate by not letting debris accumulate from trees and shrubs. You should mow and rake the lawn at regular intervals so the voles will not have material to build more surface runways and underground nests. For more information, contact a local rodent control company.