Controlling Moles and Voles in Your Yard or Garden

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Moles and voles can cause significant destruction to your yard and garden, creating raised trails that crisscross all over your once pristine lawn. The rich soil of your well-maintained lawn provides soft ground that moles and voles can easily dig through. This saturated ground also offers an ample food supply of earthworms and grubs that attract these pests to your yard.

Facts About Moles
Moles are insectivores or insect-eating animals that belong to the same family as bats and shrews. They vary in size from four to eight inches and have large paddle-like front feet with prominent claws for digging. They also have elongated heads and snouts, short necks and are usually brown, black or gray. Although they have very tiny eyes and lack external ears, they can detect dark and light.

They live underground and eat earthworms, insects, grubs, and larvae. Moles breed once a year between the late winter and the early spring. The gestation period ranges from two to four weeks, and they typically give birth to a litter of four to six young, who leave the nest roughly four weeks after birth.

Moles tend to make their dens in the areas under buildings, trees, and sidewalks. Their den may consist of multiple chambers that are connected by runways. The deeper passages are used to protect the mole against predators whereas the shallow tunnels are used for hunting.

What are the Signs of Mole Activity?
The most common signs of mole activity in your yard are molehills and raised ridged areas throughout the lawn. When moles tunnel just beneath the surface, they cause ridges to appear in the lawn. Cone-shaped molehills are formed by the dirt that moles excavate as they dig deeper tunnels around their living chambers and den.

What Problems do Moles Cause?
The tunneling that moles do causes unsightly ridges in your yard and can damage the root systems of the turf, causing the raised areas to dry out and die. As for your garden, the tunneling can uproot plants and flowers causing damage to the plant and death of the plant. They can tunnel up to 100 feet daily, so it is important to take immediate action when mole activity is discovered to save your lawn and garden from extensive damage.

Facts about Voles
Voles are rodents and vary in size between three to five inches. There are two types of voles, meadow voles that live above ground and pine voles that live underground.

They eat grasses, tubers, roots, and other various plant material. They also eat bark, underground fungi, seeds, and fruits. Voles can produce four to six litters a year, varying in size from two to five in a litter. Their gestation period is three weeks and they reach maturity at 40 days with a lifespan of up to two years.

Voles typically spend most of their time in tunnel systems that are one to a few inches below the ground. They prefer underbrush and grassy areas that camouflage their runways and tunnels from predators. Voles will also readily use tunnels that were created by moles.

What are the Signs of Vole Activity?
A common sign of mole activity may include one to two-inch-wide runways on the surface of your lawn. Their burrows can be identified by holes in the lawn or at the base of trees that are surrounded with very short grass with no soil mounding around the opening. Plants that have been eaten by voles will have a pointed tip at the end of the stem.

What Problems do Voles Cause?
Voles can cause damage throughout the year. Voles will eat tubers and roots that are underground, destroying the root structure of the plant and causing the plant to die. When their food supply is short during the winter time, they will also chew along the root collar of small trees and on the bark of shrubs. This can cause severe damage and even death in young trees.

How to Control Moles and Voles in Your Yard or Garden
One way you can reduce your chances of a mole or vole infestation is by making your lawn less attractive to them.

To make your lawn less attractive, try to avoid over watering and over fertilizing. Oversaturated ground allows food sources for these pests to thrive and makes the ground softer, allowing them to tunnel through more easily. You can also use plants and grasses that are drought tolerant and require less watering to help avoid oversaturation.

There are many DIY mole control treatments available to treat for moles and voles, but many of them are not effective. Treatments like grub killers only focus on one food source and may cause moles to create more tunnels in search of food.

Other common store-bought treatments like ultrasonic or vibration devices don’t offer long-term treatment because the voles and moles can eventually become accustomed to the noise. Baiting moles or voles can be effective, but if you lack the proper knowledge of where to place the bait, you risk wasting your time baiting inactive tunnels.

It is important to consider using a professional pest control service to ensure your mole or vole problem is controlled before they can completely destroy your yard or garden.

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