Do voles favor Camellia roots as a first choice meal?

nandina(8b)April 20, 2009

As a Pro I was contacted by a friend in the Greensboro area last evening. Problem: Camellias dying and when removed the roots were heavily chewed either by rats or voles (that's my guess unless some hamsters have escaped). No sign of other plants being attacked in this beautiful organic garden with soils that we all dream of having. I know how to handle the rodent problem. That is not my question. Rather I am asking if those of you in that general area have had a similar problem with Camellia roots favored by rodents over other plants?

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My vast vole collection seems to favor one thing each season and then they move on to something new. All of their habits are unpredictable - where they live, how they travel, what they eat.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 10:56AM
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I planted two 3-year old camellias this fall which were promptly eaten by deer, despite many other "tastier" offerings in the garden at that time. The voles haven't found it yet, but in the rodent category the rabbits also favored these plants with their winter attentions.

So, this isn't too helpful, really...but they do seem to be tasty treats for furry feeders. I'd imagine the roots are just as tasty at tea-time.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 8:08AM
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I have a huge vole problem and they have never bothered my Camelias - yet. But like John said, their tastes seem to vary. They won't bother something for years and then suddenly it's their favorite thing.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 1:55PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

I have 9 camellias I've been trying to grow, but after 5 years I'm about to give up. I think everything that walks or crawls likes to eat camellias. Poor thng s don't have a chance

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 6:52AM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

I know this is an old thread but I had to return a camelia with a one-year-guarantee to a nursery because it had curled and dried up. I tried to dig it up to take it back and when that didn't work, I pulled it up and something had chewed clean through the entire main stem which was at least an inch in diameter! I couldn't believe it and didn't realize rodents would do this!!!!! Just heartbreaking. I have another, Rose Dawn, that is doing fine and I replaced the dead one. Wonder if I can put something around it to keep rodents away???

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 2:25PM
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I have had problems with pine voles for several years.
I now have to plant all new my plants in 1/4 inch wire mesh baskets.
I have tried everything from slate chips, hot pepper, glycerine and even mouse traps.
Camellias are one of their favorites.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 8:51PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

lsst, have you tried planting into the wire mesh trashbaskets? They're usually available at the discount stores.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Thanks for the tip! I was dreading making cages for my Dahlias and summer bulbs and the trash baskets should be the right size!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 3:47PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

You know the more we work to loosen our soils and mulch over top of them to retain moisture/deter weeds the more we create the perfect habitat for voles.
They aren't as good an excavator as a mole and will happily live under your mulch chewing on surface roots of shrubs and perennials and digging through the loose lovely planting soil to get to the younger roots.

Deer, I read, are drawn to freshly dug soils we're planting and particularly drawn to fertilized soils. Some aroma attracts them.

As for the voles..this property has them and first thing I did was to remove all the leaf litter and pinestraw and bark mulch to take away their 'cover'.
Got gobs of raptors. Now I only have owls and a couple of younger hawks ..nesting pairs driven off by owls. Now the raptors can do their job for us since we've exposed their food.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 9:00PM
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That is what I have had to do, too.
The bark mulch was perfect for the voles.
New subdivisions coming in around our acreage ran off the predators.
I leave the ground exposed even though some mulch would help retain water.
This spring I have noticed the hawks and owls are returning.
Last week, I was working in my rose garden when I spotted a Barred Owl in a pine tree.
I got the binoculars and noticed it had caught a vole and was eating it.
The owl then watched me garden for about one hour.
What a treat!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 9:57PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

You're lucky ! I miss the murderous screams of the Barred Owls. Had them for 4 years until the Great Horned moved in and drove out the Barred.
As I understand it, both will drive off the redtailed hawks.
This house I started with a couple nesting pairs of hawks and some immature owls.
Now the owls are dominant which is better for my squirrel problem (explosion). Owls are more territorial and more efficient hunters.

Now if I could just find a non-clawed anteater I have two huge carpenter ant nests in the forest.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:07PM
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I did not realize owls ran off hawks That is a shame as I like both.

I remember the first time I heard the Barred Owls screaming in our woods.

It was about 4 A.M. and it woke me out of a sound sleep.
It is a sound I will never forget!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:51PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

They both depend on the same food sources and the dayflying,soaring/gliding hawks can cover a much larger sight area.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 1:25PM
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You can have both owls and hawks. Some hawks and owls take over former nesting sites of the other species. There is an association between the type of hawk and owl. For instance, I'm in bottom land and have red-shouldered hawk and barred owl. I attended a program by an expert on owls last year and learned about this.

Red-tailed hawk has a different type of owl associated with it.

Voles have eaten and killed one of my Nandina 'Firepower', a sterile cultivar. I look for holes, then bait a small re-usable mouse trap with peanut butter or sunflower chips. The traps are labeled as disposable at Lowe's. The trap is then covered with a large flower pot with a rock on top.

Here is a link that might be useful: hawks and owls

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 4:12PM
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