You've heard of mole control, but not vole control? Why is that? Well, the latter gets little recognition. While you may not know the difference between moles and voles, even those who are not landscaping enthusiasts have heard of moles. But most people go their whole lives without ever so much as hearing about these similar-looking pests, let alone controlling them. To make matters more confusing, these pests are sometimes referred to as "meadow mice" or "field mice." But when you identify the damage they cause in lawn and garden alike, you'll quickly learn that this is no "Mickey Mouse" pest control problem.
Voles construct well-defined, visible tunnels, or "runways" at or near the surface, about two inches wide. Vole runways result from the voles eating the grass blades, as well as from the constant traffic of numerous little feet beating over the same path. And if any lawn and garden pest can literally “beat a path” through the grass due to their sheer numbers, it’s the voles. Rabbits don’t have anything over this prolific rodent!
Vole Hole Identification: Voles vs. Moles
Since voles are not the only animal pests responsible for runways in lawn and garden areas, they are often confused with these other pests you'd like to get rid of – namely, moles. Because both moles and voles are rarely seen, it makes more sense to base identification on the signs they leave behind, rather than on how the animals look. After all, you may never come face to face with these furtive foes!
Moles produce two types of runways in your yard. One runway runs just beneath the surface. These are feeding tunnels and appear as raised ridges running across your lawn. The second type of runway runs deeper and enables the moles to unite the feeding tunnels in a network. It is the soil excavated from the deep tunnels that homeowners find on their lawns, piled up in mounds that resemble little volcanoes. These mounds are a dead giveaway that your problem is not voles, but moles. Voles leave no mounds at all behind.
Perhaps you've made a positive identification of the culprit: you've got voles. Or perhaps you don't have voles on your landscape, but you wish to find out how to keep it that way. Whichever category your landscape falls under, we discuss the next steps in vole control on Page 2, where, among other topics, I relate some of the plants most likely to be threatened by these pests....