Trees, shrubs, turf grasses and other grassy plants.
Description & Symptoms
Voles are tiny, mouselike rodents with stocky bodies and short legs and tails. They weigh only 1 to 2 ounces. Voles eat mainly the leaves and stems of grassy plants although they will eat other vegetation and fruit. They also eat the bark of trees and shrubs during the winter.
Timing & Life Cycle
Voles breed prolifically with many litters per year, each with about five young. They nest in shallow burrows underground or at ground level under brush or other protective covering. They usually leave their nests only for short times, following well-defined routes as they forage for food. Voles do not hibernate and are active all winter, often tunneling through snow to reach desirable plants.
The most serious damage caused by voles often occurs in winter, when they gnaw the bark of trees and shrubs, sometimes girdling whole stems and causing death or dieback. Voles damage lawns by eating the grass itself and by creating trampled pathways as they travel back and forth. Voles also can inflict root damage if they burrow and nest near the root zone of a tree or shrub.
Treatment & Solutions
Removing the habitat voles seek for nesting and feeding is the best control. Weeds, dense ground cover, brush, low spreading evergreens or even thick mulch can provide an ideal environment for voles.
Mowing grass regularly, pulling mulch away from the trunk of trees and shrubs, and clearing away excess vegetation will help reduce vole activity. In the winter, protective fencing around valuable trees and shrubs helps prevent bark from being nibbled.
Mousetraps can be used to catch voles but are not very effective against large populations. Repellants and other devices to scare voles away have not proven to be effective.
For more information about voles, call the Plant Information hotline at (847) 835-0972.