Signs that voles are invading your garden

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All sorts of uninvited guests can compromise the look and vitality of a garden. Some gardens are trampled by foot traffic, while others are plagued with weeds. Still others are plagued by small, tunnel-building rodents known as voles.

Voles are often confused with moles. While they do bear some similarities, namely that both travel through lawns and gardens via tunnels, voles and moles are not one and the same. In fact, moles are not even rodents. 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac notes that voles eat mainly vegetarian diets. That makes vegetable gardens prime targets for these small rodents that some mistake for mice. But Pests.org, a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to learn about pests and the threats they pose, notes that voles’ eyes and ears are considerably smaller than the eyes and ears of mice. In addition, voles’ tails are much shorter than the tails on mice.

Correctly diagnosing issues is essential to maintaining a healthy garden, and identifying vole infestations is no exception. The following are some signs that typically indicate a lawn or garden has been infested with voles.

Shallow tunnels throughout the property

Voles create shallow tunnels between one and two inches wide, and these tunnels can typically be found all over the lawn. Grass stems and blades are part of voles’ diets, so don’t just look to the garden for signs of vole infestation.

Markings on bark and plants

Pests.org notes that voles may leave small gnaw marks on bark and plants. A careful inspection of trees and other plants may be necessary to uncover this symptom.

Partially eaten root vegetables

Voles may eat root vegetables like carrots and potatoes by pulling them down into their tunnels. You’ll see partially eaten vegetables in the garden.

Damaged trees and shrubs

Voles don’t limit their victims to grass and root vegetables. Young trees and shrubs that are leaning over may have fallen victim to vole infestations.

Homeowners can employ various strategies to control and prevent vole infestations. But first they must be certain the unwanted guests tunneling their way through their lawns and gardens are, in fact, voles. (MC)

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