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Voles - Control & Prevention

Voles in Your Garden?

A friend watched helplessly as her tomato plants withered and died one after another. Our rosarian lost several of her long-established roses this spring. When they pulled up the plants, they came up easily – the roots were gone.

Mole or vole?

Vole. Moles are insectivores (they like bugs, grubs and worms) and do not eat plants. Voles, which may resemble moles but in fact are mouse-like rodents also known as meadow mice, use the mole runs (tunnels) to get at plant roots, which they love to eat. They'll destroy the root systems of rose bushes, eat tulip bulbs with delight, devour roots of perennials, vegetables.... If your plants are falling over from chewed roots and your bulbs are no longer where you planted them, you've got voles.

To control or repel voles:

We sell Mole/Vole Stopper by Messina, which is approved for organic growers, OMRI-approved, and effective for preventing chewing, digging, and tunneling damage caused by voles (and other rodents).

We also sell Espoma Soil Protector, a shard-like material that you put into the soil when you plant bulbs and new plantings, but you can also for existing plants. It works because voles like soft tunnels, not tunnels made of coarse materials.  It's nontoxic, doesn't break down (so you need to apply it only once), and is perfectly safe to use.

The chemical, zinc phosphide (Bonide Mole, Bonide Repels All, Gopher Killer), has been proven effective. Anything containing the extract capsaicin from peppers may also afford short-term protection. Read and follow all label directions and restrictions.

The UConn Home & Garden Education Center also suggests:

1. Eliminate weeds and groundcovers in and around cultivated areas. This reduces the availability of food and cover for voles, and the capacity of these areas to support them.

2. Regularly mow the permanent sod strips between blueberry and raspberry rows. A weed-free or vegetation-free strip is an excellent buffer around areas to be protected. The wider the buffer strip, the less likely voles will cross it to the cropping areas.

3. Frequent tillage removes cover, destroys existing runways or tunnels, and destroys a percentage of the existing population.

4. You can try placing a mousetrap, perpendicular to the tunnel, with the trigger end in the tunnel. Apple slices or a peanut butter-oatmeal mixture make good baits.