Voles are small rodents that live in field and shrub habitats. Voles dwell mostly above ground, especially in grassy or weedy areas. Unlike other similar small mammals voles do not burrow extensively underground. They breed year round and do most of their damage in the winter. Adult voles are 4 to 7 inches long including their tail. They are grayish-brown rodents with tiny ears, small, dark eyes and a relatively short tail.
Voles damage your lawn by clipping the grass close to the roots when they construct surface runways beneath the snow. These runways are typically found travelling from shrub or ornamental areas to the nesting area. Turf damage is usually not as bad as it appears. Rake away the dead grass in spring and the surrounding grass will quickly fill in the damaged areas. Voles can cause damage to landscape areas by eating flowering bulbs, girding the stems of woody plants, and gnawing roots. Plants not killed outright may be invaded by disease, insect, or from water stress during drought periods. Plant damage is more severe during winters when food supplies dwindle.
Cutting your lawn as short as possible for your last cutting of the year will reduce the amount of grass folding over during the winter months where these animals make their home. Frequent mowing and maintaining a grass-free area around young trees and shrubs will reduce damage and destroy hiding places. Severe winter weather and food shortages will reduce vole populations naturally. Trapping is also an effective way to eliminate voles in small areas. Mouse-size traps baited with peanut butter, oatmeal or apple slices placed in runways will reduce the problem. The best time to set traps is mid-October through mid-November before the snow covers the ground.
L.C.S. Lawn and Tree Service, Inc. is proud to offer a vole repellent product to help protect your property. This is an organic, granulated repellent, which specifically targets the vole population. The repellent is applied to your ornamental areas and lawn areas. It has been found quite effective in keeping voles out of treated areas for several months depending on the rainfall the area receives. This repellent should be applied in spring and fall.