Well...to be honest...the voles may not be back so much as they never really left. We've blogged about voles before. Tony blogged about them in the lawn, and Irene blogged about them too--twice!
|Meadow vole. Kinda cute, but crazy destructive.|
|Vole tracks in the lawn.|
They do have natural predators, like birds of prey, coyotes, and fox, but there seems to be so many voles and too few predators. Plus, voles love our landscapes where there aren't a lot of predators and it's a cozy, safe place to take residence. And that's where they are a problem. They like to live in tall grassy areas, and also in landscape beds--especially those with mulch and landscape fabric.
|Voles love to live under landscape fabric, because it's safe from predators.|
|All of her roses were killed this winter.|
|Girdled rose chewed by voles.|
|What looks like a perfectly healthy dwarf blue spruce...|
|The base of the spruce was girdled completely, approximately 2-3" off the ground.|
|Potential vole damage in junipers.|
What works best are unbaited mouse traps, placed end-to-end, near areas of activity and cover with a piece of gutter. Voles aren't smart animals and they will run, with free abandon, throughout the landscape. If you place the traps near active tunnels or near where they are actively feeding, you'll snap them, just like mice. Traps need to be checked and reset daily. There's lot of recommendations of baits that you can use (including Juicy Fruit gum!?!) but voles aren't motivated by baits--they are herbivores. Unbaited is best. They also don't seem to eat poison baits, which poses other potential issues for non-target animals.
|Unbaited mouse traps, placed end-to-end, near active voles.|
|Cover the traps with a piece of gutter. Voles like the protection and shelter of above canopy, which is why they live under landscape fabric or in tall grass. They are less noticeable to predators.|
Apply this fertilizer to any area of the landscape, including the lawn, landscape beds, or vegetable beds, at a rate of 15-20 pounds of product per 1,000 square feet. The 40 pound bag will cover about 2,000 square feet total and runs about $20. Now, this product is a repellent. It will make the voles go elsewhere, so using it in the entire landscape may not be practical, but focusing on active vole areas can work (or where you have rabbit damage). Once you apply the product, water it in. You'll notice the "earthy odor" for a day or so, but voles and rabbits will notice it for perhaps three weeks. Plan on applying it every month. It's not sold at most box stores, so check farm and ranch stores, or local hardware stores. As a side note, it's an excellent fertilizer, so you can use this to fertilize your lawn too.
|Milorganite has been found to work to repel voles and rabbits in the landscape.|
It's always something, isn't it? If it's not voles, it's late spring frosts. Or hail. Life as a gardener is truly a test of patience.