The Buzz

Summer Critters

 Moles and Voles are 2 rodents that most gardeners love to hate. They are different species and have different diets, so the methods for controlling each is different.

Moles dig long, raised tunnels, usually in your lawn. They eat grub worms, earthworms and some other invertebrates, so it is really difficult to control them with a poison bait. They are blind and nocturnal so you rarely see them, only the damage. If you are lucky and actually see them moving in the tunnels with their paddle like feet, you can dig them out and dispatch that individual with a shovel. Small dogs such as Rat Terriers or Jack Russell Terriers can be used to dig them up and kill them with less effort than any person I know. The good news is, on the average there are only about 4 moles per acre.

Moles have two types of tunnels. They have permanent ones that they use all the time and foraging tunnels that they use to look for food. If you will stomp down all the tunnels in your property 2 or 3 mornings in a row, you will quickly find out which are the permanent ones because they will be back the next day. If you purchase the mole traps that look like a spring loaded miniature pitchfork, dig this into one of  the permanent tunnels. With luck you will have a dead mole in the morning. You will need to repeat until there are no more moles.

Voles look like a small brown field mouse with a stump for a tail. They love to eat the root systems of plants. I am sure they read garden catalogs because their taste seems to lead them to the most expensive plants in your garden. You know when you have them because a plant that looked good the night before is now a wilted pile of leaves with no roots. Voles love rich, loose, improved garden soil. Exactly what you work so hard to do for your plants. They especially love Hostas but have been known to prey on Azaleas, Dogwood, Hydrangeas and a long list of other species. Voles dig small holes in the ground about the size of a 50 cent piece. Try baiting ordinary mouse traps with either a shelled, unsalted pecan or a pealed acorn. Set the trap next to a vole hole. Cover both the vole hole and the trap with an upside down flower pot. (If you use a  plastic pot, put a brick or something similar on top  so it doesn’t blow over; you could trap a bird!) If you have many voles set many traps and check daily. You will make a dent in the population and if you are persistent get down to a control level. Short of a nuclear  blast there will always be some voles. People that have several outdoor cats report good results in controlling vole populations.

Like all things in nature, not all cats are created equal, so this may or may not be a successful solution!   

Posted by Rick Pudwell at 11:22 AM

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