Voles also called meadow voles, and field mice, are lesser known ground-dwelling rodents that cause damage to your backyard and lawn. Often confused with moles, they build underground runways by eating the stems and blades of grasses that destroys the roots of landscaping plants. To protect the vegetables, fruits, and flowers in your garden, take immediate measures for their removal to prevent further destruction.
Ways to Get Rid of Voles in your Yard, Vegetable Garden, and Lawn
Make your backyard look less appealing by removing brush and wood piles, weeds, and ground covers such as creeping junipers, as well as trimming your grasses to deter both adult and baby voles from finding shelter. Also, make sure the spaces underneath your deck/porch do not accumulate any trash or debris.
Since mulch acts as a good protecting cover for voles, it is best not to use it. But if you still want to apply it, keep a distance of 2-3 feet between the trees in your garden and the mulch cover. This will at least keep your trees and plants safe from voles.
Adding a layer of crushed stones or coarse gravel mixture up to 3 to 4 feet into flower pots as well as around garden beds and base of tree trunks might discourage voles from entering your yard as they find rough textured-lands unsuitable for foraging. Also, accumulation of leaves, and trimmed or decaying vegetation near these regions should be avoided.
Placing a fence or wire guard, made of ¼ inch wire mesh or hardware cloth, about a foot below the soil surface and 12 inches above the ground can keep them away from the smaller plants.
In winter, make sure the fence is taller than the maximum expected snow depth if you reside in a colder region. To prevent the voles from chewing off the bark and other tissue layers (also known as girdling), causing the death of trees, encircle the trunk with a wire cylinder measuring about 18 to 24 inches high. Make sure it’s buried another 4 to 6 inches without damaging the roots. However, it should be wide enough to facilitate the growth of the tree trunk.
Trapping Voles Without Killing Them
The best seasons to trap them are autumn and late winter as the absence of natural forage compels them to search for other food options. Using mouse-sized box traps is a more humane and safe way to drive meadow voles away rather than exterminating them.
Find a Location and Bait
Position the trap perpendicular to areas where voles exhibit maximum activity such as the runway and burrow openings, near shrubs, flower beds, and rock walls. Bait it with a peanut butter-oatmeal mixture or some apple slices. Once trapped, release the animal far away from your property into a field or grassy region.
In addition to natural repellents, including some essential oils that can be availed from stores, there are a couple of homemade remedies for organically removing voles from your garden:
Plants that Repel Voles
Note: Besides the use of toxic chemicals like zinc phosphide and anticoagulants for baiting traps, thiram-based products, fumigants, ammonia, and mothballs/flakes are strictly prohibited for getting rid of voles as these repellants act as a poison. Only a certified pesticide applicator is permitted to do so if the need for such a treatment arises.
Although ultrasonic repellants like noise or vibration emitters and strobe lights may work for a limited duration, these are not effective in the long run.
Another alternative method is installing raptor perches and nest boxes to attract birds of prey like owls, hawks, and kestrels to frighten voles and other rodents.
The possibility of voles entering your home is less since they prefer moving through their self-constructed underground tunnels. However, if you happen to spot a one in your basement, garage, or kitchen, use furniture and boards to create a path for driving it out on the yard as setting live traps with bait inside your house would less likely give any result. In some cases, keeping a cat can be an easy and pet-friendly way, but it may cause physical harm to the vole, and hence should be avoided.
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