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Moles and Voles

At this time of year when you start your garden and lawn cleanup, you might begin noticing tunnels and piles of dirt in your lawn and garden beds. There might be a mole or voles in residence.

Voles are small, stocky rodents similar to field mice. They dig snake-like tunnels that you’ll see all over your lawn and garden. Very active in the spring, they love to burrow underground, and since they are herbivores they will eat bulbs, root vegetables and plant roots.

Here are a few tips for getting rid of voles. Trap voles near vole runways or the nesting sites at the base of trees and shrubs. Bait traps with peanut butter. Set baits midday to early evening when voles get more active. Reset the traps as often as necessary until you eliminate the population. The key to trapping is persistence. If you have an extreme problem, you can bait voles with a registered rodenticide. Consult your local garden center or professional critter control agency.

It’s always easier to discourage pests than having to deal with an infestation. Voles like dense, heavy vegetative cover, mulch, and weeds. Make your yard inhospitable to voles by cutting back brush, mow, weed, and create a clean space. Voles also love the vegetable garden. These little critters aren’t very good climbers. Protect a garden by fencing the area with a half-inch of mesh, at least 12 inches above the ground and buried 6 to 10 inches deep. Another great control method is an outdoor cat.

Moles are ground-dwelling carnivores that eat insects instead of your garden plants. Moles have a hairless, pointed snout. They have very large and broad forefeet with webbed toes. They are usually about 7 inches in length and weigh about 4 pounds. Unlike vegetarian voles, moles dig deep. Their tunnels are usually at least ten inches underground. Check your soil and lawn for their tunnels. They will look like raised volcano-shaped swellings in your yard.

Moles are usually found where soil is rich in organic matter. They prefer moist, loamy soil and are most active in the early morning or evening in the spring or fall. Their presence in unusually large numbers might be due to a high population of soil pests - a warning that all is not well with the soil life.

If you have a persistent mole problem, the best solution is trapping. Frankly, this is often the only way to get rid of moles. Again having an outside cat this may help. Getting rid of lawn pests and their source of food will also help. Try spraying your lawns with milky spore disease or beneficial nematodes to get rid of the grubs. This will also rid your lawn of Japanese beetle larvae, which is a great benefit!

~ Submitted by Denise Dugas (From the Farmer’s Almanac)

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