Vole problem

fireweed22February 20, 2013

Huge problem here. I believe voles but may be field mice or something else. Photo of damage below- needs cut/pasting.

Over the years I have had near 100% success keeping them off the trunks by using 4-6 layers of tinfoil plus mothballs around the base.

This year around 5 trees had tinfoil chewed completely through and trees girdled, others were partially damaged but will heal.

Mulberries/apples were affected but an older plum and sour cherries also killed.
They even got a 10 year old bald cypress- chewing about 3/4" into the bark all the way around, about 4" wide swath.

The bottom 1' of most blackberries were also scraped clean of any green meaning no fruit this year. Not sure where to even start protecting those, or blueberries/gooseberries etc etc. Even raspberries are damaged.

I used hardware cloth one year but they used it as a ladder and girdled trees above the mesh.
Low hanging branches at about the snowline were also chewed this winter.

Any thoughts on other tree protection ideas? Being surrounded by farms means there are always more passing through. And I'm afraid this is between 1-2 acres so no easy feat!

Cut and pasting this should show you what they did on a sour cherry- shreds of tinfoil all over the place.

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Could be rabbits. Voles prefer to chew roots underground, not girdle bark.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:46PM
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Then they're mice I guess. I caught a bunch with traps last fall.
Any ideas?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 11:05PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

It could be voles, was this part under the snow?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 11:40PM
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Yes, there was nearly 3' of snow. We had an early melt off but snow is forecast, I went out and triple layered more tinfoil and mothballs.
But hoping for a better plan, losing trees like this hurts.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:48AM
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I have had the same problem, not as severe as you. Hardware cloth is about the best protection you can use. I have even put several inches down into the ground to protect the roots when I set out young trees. The nice thing about using hardware cloth is you can bring it up the trunk as high as you want. Most lower limbs should be cut off trees anyway. The hardware cloth comes in rolls and the wire can be very firm to less firm. Of course, you would want the finer mess to prevent a vole from getting through. I also leave the pointed sharp cut ends protruding as this acts as a deterrent for those that like to crawl up and over the wire! I use wire cutters similar to a pair of pliers to cut it and just fine wire to hold the cage cyclinder together. Actually, I have used twist-ties from the kitchen to hold them together. I believe you will find that the hardware cloth will take care of your problem. I use it for just about everything, protect seedling from voles and rabbits, lettuce and cabbage transplants in the garden, my wife's lily bulbs. I have lost too much over the years not to have hardware cloth!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 6:21AM
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Voles are scavengers and will eat about anything vegetarian. I agree with hoseman about the best solution.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 8:53AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Hoseman, thanks for that information. We have a new property that is so studded with gopher and vole holes, we don't know where a tunnel starts and ends. We heard about planting in gopher baskets, but they are very expensive, and we have several trees and an entire vineyard to plant, so I googled hardware cloth and found it has many other uses in the home as well. Don't know how we ever lived without it!

Here is a link that might be useful: Improve your Home with Hardware Cloth

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:53AM
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I'm glad we don't have that problem where I'm at. The biggest problem we have a moles and the barn cats take pretty good care of them.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 1:06PM
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