Elimination of Voles

hscoleMarch 17, 2007

I live in Richmond and we have a esclating problem with voles.

Nothing used to date has been sucessful: smoke bombs, fire crackers, Ramix green poison pellets, poison peanut pellets, or traps. Extension agent no further help.

Southern States, local gardening store, recomends MOLE MAX.

If you have something that has been effective as a repelent or poison please let me know.

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harryvetch(Cent.VA/ Zone 7)

I've heard Milky Spore will help eliminate the grubs that the voles feed on, and maybe the voles will move on to your neighbor's yard.....I've tried the green pellets from Southern States as well, I couldn't tell if they helped or not.......Maybe a Google search will help you..

Good luck,
Harry V, Glen Allen

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 7:29PM
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Sorry, Harry, voles don't eat grubs, moles eat grubs. Voles eat the roots and crowns of plants.

One method I've used successfully is to soak those green pellets (I use the larger ones) in apple juice for a few hours before putting them down the vole holes. These pellets are primarily flavored to attract meat eaters and don't seem to be tasty to the voles unless they are soaked. (Be sure they are somewhere that curious kids can't get to them and dispose of the leftover juice down some of the vole holes. And use plastic or rubber gloves when you handle them.)

Be aware that these baits are also poisonous to pets. If pets are in the area, put buckets upside down over the holes and weight them down with something so they can't be easily turned over.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 10:27AM
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little_country_gal(z7 VA)

I had a vole problem a few years ago and this is what I can recall:

Sandy, I was told to still use the Milky Spore to get rid of the grubs, which moles feed on, because the voles like to take over the mole tunnels. I don't know if it was true, but less grubs means less Japanese Beetles (they're another problem all together), so I did use the Milky Spore.

Also, there is a product called VoleBloc (I think I got that right). It looks like small sharp gravels that you put in the ground around areas that you don't want the voles to dig. I used it as a temporary solution to protect the roses I was planting. (Voles were devoring my new roses from the roots at an alarming rate!) Personally I didn't really like the product (pricey, seems like just gravel to me) but the voles never got any of the roses I used it with.

My personal favorite solution: Get a good outdoor cat! Worked like a charm for me! No voles for 3 years!

I noticed that my old cat just wasn't getting up and around like she used to, so we went ahead and did an early replacement! Just joking there. My old cat managed to co-exist rather nicely with the new cat for 2 years before her time finally came.

Now the cat and the dog hunt the voles together as a team (yes that's right they actually work together!) Never seen that before! They had quite the time hunting them out for a while, but I haven't seen a vole for years now!

I know, I know, I live out in the country and having an outside cat makes sense for me and the cat. I'm not sure if I would have an outside cat in town, their life expectancy is considerably shorter. (Out here, my last kitty made it 16 fine years of mousing. Not a bad life for a cat at all!) Your call!

Good luck with the voles!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 11:26AM
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Hi Renee. You're absolutely right about cats being good at keeping the vole population down. We never had a problem with them until our kitties became indoor pets.

And yes, the voles will use the mole tunnels to move from place to place but don't really need them. When we had our most serious vole infestation, we didn't have any moles. They will travel under mulch or under leaves at the edge of the yard or any way they can have a little protection.

The principle behind VoleBloc is good but it's way too expensive to use in a whole bed. It's good for using around a few plants if put in the planting hole.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden did an experiment with several methods of vole control and found that enclosing the entire root ball in an underground "basket" made of 1/2" hardware cloth (rat wire) was the least toxic way to protect plants but it's really labor intensive.

Where in VA are you? I'm in Chesterfield, near Midlothian. It's way more city-like here than I prefer but it does have it's advantages, too.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 12:37AM
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I read one sure fire method was to bait traps with BubbleYum Strawberry flavored bubblegum available at any 7-11, you can use in any type of trap. The stuff is irrisistable to vegan voles. WHAP! You got em!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 6:17AM
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little_country_gal(z7 VA)

Sandy, Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, it takes rain or cold weather to drag me back inside! I'm in Sandy Hook (Goochland County) 18 miles west of Short Pump straight up I-64, just a mile and a half off of the interstate. I can be in Short Pump in a 20 minutes drive, not a bad price to pay for a little bit of country livin'!

I'm really not that far from you (or Harry in Glen Allen), sometimes I even shoot down 288 for a little shoppin' trip!

I've been meaning to try the wire cage trick to keep the squirrels from digging up the tulips. Great idea for the voles if you can manage it.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 10:17AM
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Renee, talk about a small world, my daughter and her family live in Sandy Hook! They love it there!

I stay way too tied to this computer due to my work so I don't get outside nearly as much as I would like. Some days GW is my only connnection to my passion.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:48PM
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cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)

I'm late on this topic, but I might have a tiny bit of help. Not much, as these stinkers are destroying my own beds.

1) as you bury bulbs, sprinkle crushed oyster shells in the hole. Southern States has them. Calcium = good, and calcim = sharp. My girlfriend strongly recommends and uses a Southern States product called RoPel (or something like that) to soak her bulbs in first. She also says squirrels don't like it at all.

2) using something caster oil based, IOW and organic mole repellant, sprinkle some of THAT into the holes, too. They hate the stink and it will keep them away for awhile.

I have moles that dig under my plants, killing them with air. Voles are eating the bulbs where I didn't follow my own advice. I stick my hand into the mole trail, break it up and collapse it to pack back around the plant roots. As I do this, I'm adding oyster shells and caster stuff. I lost far too many hosta last year to these creeps.

Oh - and don't count on animals to hunt them. I have 7 cats and 3 dogs. 2 outdoor cats avidly watch them crawl through the yard, stalking the mound, but never pouncing. The dogs think it's fun to dig, but never notice with the m/vole has moved on. You can't count on them actually being good at m/voling, just like you can't count a human being to do the same thing all the time.

Bubble gum, those mole alerts things you stick in the ground, and following them around with a pitch fork don't work for me. Milky Spore takes years to grow, so you never know if it's actually working or we had a dry year, producing fewer grubs/beatles. If I were into chemicals, it might be easier, but forget that!

I hope these are some ideas. Too frustrating, isn't it?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 1:57PM
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cindy57(7a VA)

Hi all I live in Glen Allen 4 miles south of ashland. You know what my husband and I did about the voles/moles. We gave up..... I have 45 rose bushes and the moles/voles never bother them (just lucky I guess). But perenneals are another story. I've planted hundreds of varities of perenneals only to be disappointed when they disappear after a few weeks or are totally missing the next year. I finally decided that I wasn't buying anything else.

I can tell you what the voles/moles don't like After 12 years here is what is left in my back yard I have astilbe, bleeding hearts, columbine, phlox, peonies, iris, daffodills, four o'clocks, day lilies, ect... We gave up on dutch iris, I used to plant hundreds of bulbs each year and not one came up. I finally out of desperation planted 20 bulbs in two seperate containers which I buried in the ground and they come up every year. I say don't fight'm just grow what they don't like it sure is a lot less head ache.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 8:00PM
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Hi to all in VA, but esp. in the Richmond area! We lived in Henrico for 25 years. We moved out just as the new, huge mall in Short Pump moved in! My hubby still works in Chesterfield, at the Boulder's, tho. He commutes from Mathews County. We're about 1.5 hours and 40 years from Richmond. :)

We had moles and voles, too. But our Jack Russell Terrorist, Toby, rescued froom the shelter at 8 weeks old, took care of that problem! He seems to be happiest outside rooting something or other out of the ground, even if it is a cricket! After the rain, he usually catches several moles/voles. I took some pictures of him about a year ago playing with his catch, I'll have to look to see if they are still on the computer.

We are traveling to Richmond on Friday. A trip to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens (went to Norfolk Botanical gardens last year), to Strange's, Ukrop's, etc. We love to visit those places, but are always glad to be back here where it is so quiet and peaceful!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 10:20AM
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lov2garden(VA 7b)

When I first moved to Richmond 14 years ago I had never heard of voles. In my first Richmond spring, I was raking out the monkey grass and it rolled over like a bad toupee. Then I found I lost 10 rosebushes and most of my hostas. Soon I was reading and trying everything I could find on voles. The more I tried, the more I failed and the more they ate. I was so hopping mad that I started having thoughts of having the head of the first one I caught mounted over my mantle. It was kinda scary because I had never met that side of me.

At any rate, I tried "everything". I resisted getting a cat because I didn't want anything more to care for and I hate litterboxes. But since my kids were begging for a pet, here came a kitten for us. In less than one season, all voles cleared out of my property. Despite my dark thoughts of revenge, I couldn't watch her "playing" with the voles she caught. Our kitty soon took responsibility for my neighbor's yard too and earned many thanks. She only uses a litter box as a last resort (being stuck inside for 24 hours). Otherwise, she goes to the door and waits to go outside like a dog and will come and get me if I am not paying attention. Once outside, she digs a hole to China and then covers it up so neatly that the ground never looks like it was disturbed. She is now my favorite garden ornament and a best friend.

About Permatill/Vole Bloc: this product is awesome for keeping our concrete soil loose with good drainage. I found it was not necessary to use it in the quantities specified nor was it necessary to line planting holes with it and backfill with it. I just tilled an inch of it in the beds like any other ammendment. It never breaksdown and does it's job indefinitely. I do belive it deters voles but it's hard to tell how to split the credit between the kitty and the permatill. I also heard of using crushed shell as a vole deterrent. It is certainly much cheaper.
Short Pump

Here is a link that might be useful: Permatill & Vole Bloc

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 11:46AM
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if you visit the web page www.bridgewoodgardens.com, they have instructions for a nifty little bait station for voles. it's extremely easy to make and keeps pets and other animals from getting into the bait which is extremely toxic. i've just put one out near my hostas and will probably make another.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 9:41PM
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After noticing several large, mature shrubs fall to the ground and die, I contacted my agricultural extension agent who informed me that he thought voles were responsible. Since then I have found a number of holes (40 or more) in the ground around a stand of fatsia and a "grove" of old eleagnus. The plants are dying rapidly and when lifted from the ground, they have NO ROOT system - only a gnawed stump! I have never seen a vole, but I'm assuming I have even more of a vole problem than I originally thought. I have four acres of land, two of which are under cultivation. I have battled many pests over time (including a pine beetle attack which killed over 80 trees), but this vole issue really has me worried. I have read about the poison stations which keep the poison underground, but I don't know if they really work and I was wondering if a poisoned rodent would come above ground and prove harmful to an owl or cat that tried to eat it. Any suggestions (short of moving to a condominium and starting a window garden)?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 11:56AM
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jbcarr(7 VA)

On the VA Tech website years ago, they recommended an effective trapping technique that will lower the population. In an active tunnel, make a right angle tunnel big enough for a mouse trap. Bait it with apple. Place a roof tile or other object to seal off the opening. That way they think its underground. If you have an active problem, you will start catching a bunch. Not practical for a large area, but works well for smaller ones.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 3:23PM
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I found I had voles moving in my backyard this spring. I got out my mousetrap, baited it with peanutbutter, placed it near the hole, and covered the hole and trap with a bucket. I came back a few hours later and found a dead vole in the trap.
The neighbor's cat got another vole and I trapped one more. I couldn't find any more active holes.
Look for the newer mousetraps instead of the old fashioned. They are safer for your fingers.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 9:36PM
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