Something eats my tree roots!

behaviorkelton(7-ish)January 27, 2010

I guess it's moles or voles.

I probably posted here a while back on this... I had one young tree (Bloodgood Maple) killed.

Now, I hate to even look at the base of my young trees because it is getting more and more likely that their root base is nothing but a hollowed out series of caves... and you can tip the tree over quite easily due to the lack of roots down there.

So, it is now an epidemic. Dogwoods, maples, hollies, forest pansy redbuds, yews, magnolias etc.... all young...and we're talking almost a thousand bucks at least to say nothing of the work done planting and tending to them over the past three years!

I bought some poison (ugh!), but can't quite think of where to put it to:

a) be near the bad critter

b) be away from the good critters

If I put it near a damaged tree, hasn't the animal already done his business there and moved on?

Do these voles/moles really "like" this poison such that they sniff it out and eat it ... even if it isn't in their normal area?

I don't see the tell tale trails through the grass although I do see golf ball to almost-baseball size holes (with no mounds)... but those might just be chipmonk holes.

The English Ivy makes inspection of the garden areas kinda difficult.

One thing I just did: take 2.5" PVC pipe, cut it into 2 foot sections...and put the poison in the middle of those pipes. Then, I put it near damaged areas. That way, only the smaller critters can get to the poison.

Someone suggested Juicy Fruit gum saying that the animal loves the taste, but it ends up killing them.

Perhaps some of these trees aren't dead. I'll fill those holes and sort of churn the dirt down around the hollowed areas near the roots. Then, maybe lay a weed mat around the base to discourage easy digging.

I never thought that these animals would be anything other than an occasional annoyance.



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If it's voles you can use a mouse trap with peanut butter on it then cover it next to the hole with a pot or something. They like cover and it will encourage them to come out. I think I'll be dealing with that problem around here...not enough cats to do the job.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 8:58AM
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Well, I'll try that... but I have to imagine that it is more than one or two.

The ivy gives lots of cover, so maybe I can put the traps near tree bases.

I went to Mayo's and "the guy" there says that Voles like grubs. So, I have now sprinkled grub killing stuff at the base of a number of my high value trees to help get rid of the their food.

I do know I have grubs, but have never noticed them causing a problem.

I also bought some kind of predator hemoglobin that is supposed to repel voles. It sounds gimmicky, but whatever. I'm screwed if something doesn't work!

Oh man... I was never warned of this possibility. I feel like I'm being punished for being totally organic (not using pesticides either).

With the prospect of having a decimated yard, I am now seeking any and all avenues to stop the bleeding!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 5:18PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

It sounds like you have voles. Voles eat plant material, especially roots and bulbs. They only rarely eat insects and getting rid of the grubs will NOT get rid of voles. The guy at Mayo's either misunderstood or is just mixed up. Either way, he's wrong.

Moles rarely bother plants. When they do, it's only an accident caused by a voracious hunt for insects, grubs, and worms.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 11:48PM
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I'm now watching a number of "how to kill voles" type YouTubes and they are actually very instructive.

For one, they actually show what a vole hole looks like very clearly. Still photographs are never quite as clear, but with these videos, I am certain that these are voles.

The types of holes have really started appearing over the past year. I probably had two holes a couple years ago, but now I have probably 20 that I can find easily. I thought they were chipmonk holes and don't mind them.

My plan is to create a shady tree yard rather than a lawn anyway... so not too concerned about irregularities in the lawn. (mistake?)

So I have identified the holes in the yard, but these holes are not the worry. I am not completely certain that it is the voles that are doing damage to the young tree roots... only that they are responsible for the harmless holes in the yard.

Nevertheless, I will assume they are the guilty party.

The youtube also shows mole hills, and I see no evidence of moles in the area.

So voles *are* well known to get under young trees like this? (just trying to be clear)

I mean, chipmonks like to dig, too.... so I guess I can't rule them out for churning through those roots.

For now, I'll assume the voles are the problem. Those yard holes have become common only over the past year or so... and the tree damage has become common during this same time.

It looks like the common method is to use peanut butter and a mouse trap type of method. Hmmm, not very exotic, but I like it compared to poison.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 7:21AM
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I wonder how a garden hose down the hole would work? With water of course!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 11:22AM
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