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Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Posted by mayalena 6 (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 7, 05 at 23:33

Hi all.

I am definitely fighting voles now. I've caught (snap-trapped) 2, which I feel so sad about. I'm considering stopping...but I am also considering the trees and shrubs I might lose this winter, not to mention the sedums and cotoneaster they've been munching on so far.

Digger Dee: Where are you in your fight? What's working for you?

I noticed DtD (Hi Nan) mentioned a Gardens Alive product that is supposedly effective against voles. They currently only list a product that is designed for moles and other rodents (prob includes voles?). Anyone have any experience with this item?

I've got lots of bare soil spots now from moving and planting, but I am afraid to mulch, as people say it encourages free movement by voles. I may put some shredded leaves down after the ground freezes, but even that might not be smart. I worry that my new plants need a bit of protection....

Any advice?
PLEASE?

Thx,
Carolyn


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Hi Carolyn -

I haven't tried any of the products that are supposed to repel voles, I've just seen them in catalogs, so I don't know how effective they are. Someone posted a message here about a year ago, saying they'd gotten rid of these critters by emptying ashtrays in the garden - does not sound very appealing!

I've got voles in one long garden bed at the top of a stone wall, where there's lots of cover from tall shrubs and where the soil is quite loose because it's never walked on.
So far I haven't lost anything, but I see the ends of tunnels and occasionally find a vole in our little pool, a few feet away from the wall.

If there is a bright side to this, I find many volunteers there - mostly hydrangea and peony starts. I don't think these are seedlings, I think they're root cuttings left by voles, though I can't prove it. I don't find them in other parts of my garden, but there may be another explanation.

A layer of mulch will do more good for your plants than for the voles, imho. They like solid cover, which protects them from predators, but I don't think mulch really encourages them all that much.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I have been told by the chief horticulturist at a public landscape that zinc phosphide is effective against voles. That is the ingredient in Mole Tox (Moletox?). It is a poison and nothing to fool around with. But, by repeatedly pouring it into the vole holes, I was able to significantly decrease the population--but only after major damage to my perennial border. But many of the perennials are coming back, tho some are gone forever.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Where am I in my fight against the dastardly voles? Well, right now I'd call it a draw.

Last year I tried a granular poison. It was an Agway brand (kind of a generic, I suppose). You are supposed to pour it down the holes, and cover the hole with a rock. My beds are littered with rocks (covering the poison-filled holes!) and I still had voles.

This year, ater losing almost an entire large bed of perennials, I started off using that product again, but then I tried something called MoleMax, which is a castor-based granular spread. You broadcast it as opposed to pouring it down the holes, (although I did make sure extra got in and around the holes, lol!) It's supposed to repel the critters, I believe, not kill them, and the label says that there may be "increased mole/vole activity" as the things pack up and move out. I did indeed see more tunnels and openings when I used this.

At this point in time, I can't really tell how the battle is going. I don't think I've seen any new tunnels or holes since spreading the MoleMax, but I can't remember every single opening and how long it's been there. I'm cautiously optimistic at this point, but I suppose spring will be the telling time.

I've also started planting all my new plants with a heavy dose of crushed oyster shells mixed in, hoping this will be a deterrent. Additionally, I put down milky spore. While I did this mostly to combat the horrible, sudden beetle problem I had this year, I believe I read that if you get rid of grubs, you can get rid of - or at least reduce - the mole/vole population.

One problem I encounter is that many things I read (and even buy) are aimed more at mole control rather than vole. Some things say they can be used for voles as well, but I sure would like to see some info targeted strictly for vole problems - or at least info that doesn't add on voles as an afterthought. That makes me wonder how effective it is.

DtD, I think I have to go with Carolyn on the mulch thing. I usually put down shredded leaves as mulch, and this year I am really, really hesitant to do so. Even in the lasagna beds I am building, I'm hesitant to put down the shredded leaves, and am considering the cost involved to mix in oyster shells in the lasagna beds. From what I've read, loose mulches can encourage vole activity, as well as give the voles some cover from predatory birds. I will be waiting till the ground is frozen to put down my shredded leaves on the lasagna beds, and haven't decided if I am going to do it at all in my existing perennial beds.

I've made a note of Ginny's mention of MoleTox, for future reference (i.e. next spring!) In the meantime, I think I've done all I can for this year, and can only hope that the steps I've taken will deter those darn things. BTW, I think that next spring - EARLY - I will put another application of MoleMax down before I see any damage, as a preventative measure. Maybe this treatment a few times a year will keep the critters at bay.

Good luck to all of us!! LOL!

:)
Dee


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Thanks for the feedback, gals. Sounds like DtD doesn't mind coexisting for the time being, Ginny's knockin' 'em off, and Digger Dee is making the neighborhood hostile. I wonder which approach works for me? I'd love to coexist, but then I read that they breed every month, and can have 2-16 per litter! At that rate, they'll take over my world soon. I can't have cats or dogs, as my kids are allergic (even to the "hypoallergenic" kinds). I think I'll try the hostile approach, along with some tree and shrub protection for this winter. I guess if the perennials go, that will just make room for new ones.... Looking forward to a new excuse to get some more plants, I guess.
Enjoy the rain,
Carolyn


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I should add that I wouldn't use Moletox or similar product with small children, cats or dogs around.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

One thing I can add to this is that I tried one of those in-the-ground electornic noise things that are sopposed to repel by some underground vibration. I tried it last fall in an area where I had a high vole rate. It absolutely did not have any affect.

My crushed oyster shell success has been good. Last year I replanted almost all my desirable hosta in saucer shape holes that were thickly lined with crushed oyster shells, with an extra layer on the top around the crown. No problems with those plants.

MoleMax & MoleMed: I applied it early spring and late spring very generously as a preventative. I had no vole/mole activity and I guess I got a bit complacent. In August or so, holy cow! Tons of activity. MOstly in the beds with the moistest, loosest soil. One of which was a lasagna bed last fall. There was extra activity around newly placed fieldstone paths (nothing fancy... just set in soil/mulch in beds to get around in). I reapplied, but its still a mess in there.

MoleTox: I got it last year for the battle, but I am afraid to use it this year. My new dog is quite the explorer. Plus, the directions on it were quite specific about finding the "active" tunnel. Hard to know for sure where to apply it to be sure they will find it.

Last fall I did put some bait in the compost and pot-holding area where it is probably very inviting as a winter rodent home. But it is behind a small fence so I felt okay about the dog.

Speaking of the dog, she was overly excited about something in a bed right near the house recently. When I investigated I got to see my very first vole sighting. I didn't know who was doing more damage to the hosta, the dog or the vole, but the dog did her job:

This hosta was planted without protection. It is a very small bed near the back door and I think I felt safe there as it is nowhere near the woods or other much bigger bed targets. I guess no where is safe from these critters...


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RE: Vole Update Please

Oh another thing... I found another product in a catalog called Mouse Magic, by Bonide. It is a mouse repellent made up of peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus, etc. oils. I plan to sprinkle it around the outside of the garage perimeter to keep field mice out. Hmmmm...maybe inside too. It has quite the potent scent. Its in the garage now completely wrapped in a plastic bag and I can still smell it, but its not a bad smell.

It probably works for moles/voles as well, but it is not weatherproof.

Maybe I'll sprinkle some in with my tulip bulbs and crushed oyster shells for extra insurance.

I actually did get brave enough to plant some tulip bulbs. More to go... fingers crossed...


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

So, Wendy, where did you get the Mouse Magic? Every fall, the little critters arrive in my house ready for a Florida winter. I'd love to keep them out rather than do them in.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Gardeners Supply. $19 plus shipping for a good sized jug.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Thanks!


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Finding a way to coexist with my voles, moles, mice, and yes rats (eek) has been a long hard battle. I believe the voles have done the most damage. After some major losses to bayberry, inkberry, meserve holly, ect. that I had planted in a woodland it was suggested to me that the voles travel aimlessly so if I were to change their course of direction by removing all leaf matter or mulch near the trunk the voles will not risk being exposed to preditors. I have since had a dramatic decrease in losses but I also over plant.....one for the voles three for me. My neighbor has excavated and clear cut this fall so perhaps I should have planted two for the voles! Good luck. Katy


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

A few years ago when our resident cats were becoming less active I noticed a spike in damage to the perennial beds. I considered poison and snap traps under pots, but rejected the idea, worried that carrion munchers might be affected.

We went "low tech"... 3 more kittens. I even have a picture of their first kill... . There are no fewer than 3 on the doorstep, on the porch every single day.

I'd stick with the snap traps; and don't feel bad! They're a nuisance and opportunistic; they have big litters frequently to ensure their future success.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Hi Everyone. I have the same Mole/Vole problem. When I asked my elderly neighbor what to do, she yelled at me "To get rid of the moles you have to get rid of their food, it's the grubs." Well that is easier said than done. Yes, my husband and I have combated (and won!) the dreaded grubs in the grass (Husband is a Lawn Freak and I am a Plant Freak, therefor we both hate Japanese Beetles, so getting rid of the grubs aren't a problem). I told her that we have been doing that and she told me "Yeah that's fine but if your neighbors don't get rid of theirs then you still have them." She is absolutely right on that on. Our neighbors are so lazy, insteading of fixing what my be wrong in the yard, whether it's moles/voles/weeds/dandelions, or whatever, they would rather just spend the money and replace their landfill of a yard than fix it.
Enough about the neighbors, I could go on forever about them, the moles aren't so damaging in my yard, but the voles! Oh, those little buggers! I have two dogs who are not helpful in chasing anything little, a cat in the size that they go after, so a cat is definately out. Went screaming in an Agway store the next town over and saw those decimal vibration sticks and I grabbed about ten of them. I went to the counter and the cashier told me "Don't waste your money on them, they don't work. I tried them and my whole yard was almost in two years. I will order something that works in my yard for you. Come back next week."
I went back and what she had for me was a miracle in a bag. I do not remember what the name of the product was, but it is a yellow bag with a big mole drawing on it like it is coming out of the package. It's granular. I am telling you it is the best stuff and it's what my elderly neighbor (the good neighbor who takes care of her yard, not the swine family next door) told me to use, it's made from Castor Oil.
It was midsummer when I used it last season and I didn't see a single plant gone for the rest of the year. In the spring I saw something scurry across the front lawn and run under my rock wall, ten minutes later I watched on of my hosta leaves by that spot on the rock wall start wiggling. VOLE!!! I ran into my cellar and found what was left of the package and grabbed a shovel and headed to the hosta. I gave the ground a few whacks with the shovel (yes, I could not physically harm the nasty little critter) and sprinkled the stuff around the plant. Went to Agway, grabbed another bag and sprinkled it all around my plants and rock walls. I didn't have any vole damage in my yard until last week, especially considering how rainy it has been this year, I was really happy. I am off to buy another bag for the winter. They are not fattening up for the winter with my plants.
So, to make a long story short, the yellow bag with the mole on it works wonders. My elderly neighbor said to use castor oil and at a plant swap I was lucky enough to win a Castor Bean Plant that I plopped into the hole created by the vole during the past week.
Good Luck!


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Peonies, I think maybe the stuff in the yellow bag was the MoleMax mentioned above. This is the last product I tried, and it is castor-oil-based, and is a granular repellent in a yellow bag that you spread on the ground. As I mentioned above, I also think this may have worked for me, and I plan on spreading some more in the spring, *before* I see damage.

I'm glad you and Wendy brougt up those vibrating/electronic emitter-stick-things (or whatever they're called, lol!) I was considering trying one. My gut feeling is that they don't do anything, but I was desperate so I would have tried them. Now I'll hold off, so thanks.

And thanks for the good word about the oyster shells, Wendy. I'm hoping this will make a difference with my newly planted perennials. Too bad I can only find them in 50-pound bags. I think I will be buying a lot of these in the near future!

:)
Dee


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Hi,

Just sighted a mole a month ago, so am following this thread closely. I did look up MoleMax...to find out the ingredients. I do grow organically and wouldn't want to apply poison. I couldn't find a list of ingredients, and not sure how much of a % is castor oil. So I went to Gardens Alive and they offer Mole Med, which someone already mentioned. It represents it to be safe for all..but still no ingredients list. They do offer other organic solutions and products, so I would start there.

Here is a link...

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardens Alive/Mole Med


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

In case anyone doesn't know this yet, Moles eat meat (M) Voles eat Vegetation (V)

meat=grubs
vegetation=roots

I am pretty sure its only moles whose tunnels push up the mulch. I think voles travel lower in the ground, but are happy to use mole tunnels too. I have both. I figured the critter who was eating the hosta in the picture above was a vole because of the Vegetation thing, but when I went googling for images, the picture did seem to resemble mole more so. But who cares.. I want 'em both gone!!!

Adam, I still have a bag of MoleMax. It is 10% castor oil; 90% Fuller's earth and water. But its totally a dry product so that is strange inactive ingredients. It lists a few precautions (skin, eyes, store away from pets and kids), but not as bad as some chemicals. I think if it were approved for organic gardening, it would probably say that. It is the one with the yellow bag. MoleMed is a white bag. At one point earlier in the season, I had both bags and I compared ingredients, but now I don't remember. :-(


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Misery loves company! I am so happy to know I am not alone! So many of my new gardening swap buddies have 'em too. Yea!
Hi Ann. Mole Med at Gardens Alive seems very specific to lawns. I wonder how it would do on perennials, shrubs and trees? They can have my lawn if they want it! I think I'll make some calls and find out. I'll post whatever I discover.
Anyone else enjoying this rain? I've spent the last 2 days making halloween costumes and baking cupcakes for the school party. Not as fun as gardening, but possibly more urgent!
C


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

>but if your neighbors don't get rid of theirs then you still have them.

Most of the damage caused in lawns is from moles, who are looking for grubs. If the grubs are Japanese Beetle grubs, Milky Spore not only clears them out of your yard but works its way around the neighborhood - at least theoretically. Every time a grub is killed by it, many more bacteria are released - it should spread out from your yard inch by inch. THis is just one advantage of using MS instead of a chemical insecticide.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

HI
I too have fought moles loosing many of my oriental and trumpet lilies to them last winter. Last spring at the Stevens Coolidge Sale a womwan I met said she dug up her gardens and added step 2 patio mix and it has kept the voles away from her bulbs and other plants. I have starting to dig up beds and put it in, so far so good. I will have to see what winter brings.
Fireliz


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Thanks for all the good suggestions! I am even dreaming about voles now. Last night, I dreamt my mattress was infested...and I was thinking I had to poison them, but then what would I do about the stench?
Yuck....


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

LOL, Mayalena! I've heard of having voles in your bed, but that's crazy! I'm hoping all this rained has drowned out all the tunnels in my garden...

:)
Dee


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

MoleMax, that's it. How could I forget a name like that. Great stuff, worked for me and I am sure I will be buying it again in the springtime.

Nasy little critters, both moles and voles. The MoleMax is what worked to chase away the voles eating my hostas.

Dee--
How could you go wrong with advice from Wendy and Wendi (hi Wendy!), to quote the woman at Agway--"Don't waste your money, spend it on plants. Those things don't work." Yup, I will take that advice any day.

Wendi


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

fireliz - What is "step 2 patio mix" - sounds like a good tip.

If it doesn't need to be reapplied periodically, I'd have more chance of sucess. Which reminds me, I suppose the slugs are having a field day in all this rain, I haven't applied any sluggo since the last rain, which was probably sometime in April.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

DtD, I think fireliz is referring to a ground stone that you use as a layer in patio-making; it is coarser than sand, I believe. I assume it works along the same lines as the crushed oyster shells, in that the critters don't like digging through it as it's rough.

:)
Dee


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I think this thread should be bumped up for the many of us with vole problems.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Ginny, I'm glad you bumped this up. I have to say that I didn't have anywhere near the damage this spring that I had last year - and this even after I never got to clearing the leaves from the bed most affected. It snowed before I got around to raking, and this was one of the last beds I cleaned up this spring. I was cursing myself the whole winter because I knew this was the voles favorite hang-out.

But surprisingly, I don't think I lost anything. When I cleaned it up this spring, I put down another sprinkling of MoleMax (I had put some down in the fall as well). I also continue to plant *everything* with a generous handful of crushed oyster shells. I have seen a few holes here and there, but all plants seem to be intact...so far.

I have seen a *lot* of tunnels in my "lawn" (not much of a lawn to begin with!) but I don't care so much about that, as long as my gardens are okay. I put down some milky spore last fall, and continue to put some down this spring. The majority of the tunnels I've seen are in the area where I didn't put down milky spore last fall. I don't think this really has anything to do with it, though, as I don't think the milky spore would work *that* quickly, but I will continue to put it down till the whole yard is done.

My fingers are crossed! Hope others have had similar good luck!

:)
Dee


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Hi all.
I applied MoleMax about a month ago...but as I spread mulch today, I found lots of tunnel entrances, especially at the top of a stone wall behind lots of shrubs (much like DtDs situation). Over winter, they devoured more sedum, but that's about all. I am nervous about a growing infestation. I am going to buy more MoleMax and wait and see.
Good luck to all you vole fighters.
C


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Great Bump!

The MoleMax worked wonders for me, along with that wonderful Castor Bean Plant that I received from the Spring/Summer '05 NH Plant Swap (thank you again Annie!).

I was waiting anxiously to see what would come up this spring, amazingly everything is here! I did find a tunnel in the very back of my yard running into my neighbors. I promptly called the local Agway where I purchased the MM last year, they are all out but expecting a shipment this week. My order is in and if it ever stops raining I will be sprinkling it everywhere again.

:)


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I tried to get something for voles at home depot but they had nothing. So in the meantime I have just been throwing some gravel in with new plants.

I haven't seen much new loss, now I am hoping the rain has flooded the buggers out LOL They ate every.single.one of the pink balloon flowers I got last fall. Thankfully they were cheap, but I am still sad.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

You will have much better luck finding garden products at agricultural supply places than in big box stores. I go to a place called Bruckman's in Lawrence and not only does he have everything you could think of for gardens but the family members who work there are gardeners and have lots of good info and advice. You will never find that at a big box store. There's also an aggie supply place in Salem NH--forget name--that is good, tho a little far for me. I'm sure most areas have such stores and they are worth seeking out.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Hi Everyone,

I've been keeping up with this thread and thought I'd give my $.02. My wife and I live in central CT and for the past year have been fighting a loosing fight against voles. We've always had them in our lawn, which didn't bother us much. Last year they took over a newly-planted butterfly & hummingbird garden and systematically devoured most of what we'd planted. This year they sprung up in the beds adjacent to our house. Over the winter they wiped out every lily in one bed, and Hosta in another. What's worse is the plants they didn't eat (like ferns, Astible, etc.) they uprooted.

We've tried to use repellents (MoleMax, BobEx, etc) to no affect. This weekend, after seeing fresh damage to another bed, something had to be done. To verify these were active tunnels, I found the surface entries to their and covered them with cardboard. The next day I removed the cardboard and noted which tunnels they'd excavated underneath. I set snap traps baited with small bits of apple at the top of each active tunnel. I covered the trap with a 2 gallon plastic pot weighted with a rock (to prevent the squirrels from getting caught). I set 6 traps at about noon. By the time I'd set the last trap, the first trap had got a vole. By 2:00 I'd gotten six.

I haven't caught any others in the past few days so I moved the traps to the next bed. I have no idea how many there are in our yard, or how extensive the tunnels are. I absolutely hate to trap them but the repellants didn't work and the fact is, there are not many natural vole predators around. It's awful work, but I've come to terms with the fact that it's either them or our plants.. one has to go.

I've found a pretty good reference on voles at the University of Maryland web site: http://www.agnr.umd.edu/MCE/Publications/PDFs/FS654.pdf

-Josh-


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Josh--Were your snap traps for mice or rats? Your method sounds good.--I'd like to give it a try.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Ginny,

I used plain old mouse traps- Victor brand. I got the ones that accept bait, not the ones with the plastic "cheese" trigger. Make sure the bait is well secured to the trigger. Without getting too graphic, you want to make sure you get a clean kill. Either way, it's messy awful work. I feel horrible killing these things, but it to be done.

-Josh-


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Thanks, Josh. Not pleasant but it has to be done.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I posted this once before elsewhere, and its kind of weird, but here goes. I had a gopher problem and the guy who told me about this "solution" said it also works for moles and voles.

They are very attracted to the scent of (are you ready?) Juicy Fruit Gum. I was told to leave a stick of JFG at the entrance to their holes. They eat the gum, they cannot execrete it, and that is the end of them. Supposedly, the JFG "gums up the works". You can unwrap the stick or leave it wrapped, they will eat thru the paper. They find JFG absolutely unresistable.

Try it. And no messy traps to clean and reset.

PS - no making fun! This was actually used on my house in California.


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RE: Vole Update Please!

The voles have been taking over my yard, first the back yard, and now the front. I know they're voles, because I've seen two dead ones in the back yard that my neighbor must've poisoned and they wound up in my yard. Moles have large webbed paws; voles have thin snouts and look more like mice -- like the one in the photo someone posted above. I once saw a hosta plant in the back yard shaking, and the next day half of it was eaten, and it was sinking into the ground. I didn't realize it was voles!

Grubs are a problem in my yard, too, but voles eat vegetation, so I suspect that both the grubs and voles are destroying the lawn. My neighbor has tons of voles, big time. So I have been trying out everything. I put Sevin down one week, and Bayer's Dylox the next week, to try to combat the grubs (late Spring). I put MoleMax down twice, three weeks apart. I installed one of those vibrating devices, too, on one side of the yard where there seemed to be the most activity. Four weeks later, I ran over it with the lawnmower, and sliced off the cap on top, so it doesn't work any more. I have no idea if it did anything, but I noticed new activity about twenty feet away from where it was, right in front of my deck.

The net result: even more voles, and my lawn is rapidly disappearing. There are grubs galore in the lawn, huge ones and teeny ones (it's mid-June and the new ones aren't supposed to have hatched yet, but I see grubs large and almost microscopic (milky white), so they must be the new ones coming out early or something -- anybody know about this?). I read that Merit and Grub-Ex should be applied mid to late July to catch the new grubs, but I needed something NOW, so the quick-acting ones (Sevin, Dylox) seemed like the right choice.

Tonight, when I mowed the front lawn, I saw little surface holes (about the size of a dime) with small piles of dirt around them. The little holes were ALL OVER THE PLACE, and the grass is going brown, even though it was beautiful just a few weeks ago. I about freaked out! So I ran out and bought more supplies. I put TWO WHOLE BAGS of MoleMax on just my front lawn (it's around 40 by 20), and followed it up with more Bayer's Dylox, and watered it all in. I hope it was okay to put that much MoleMax and it doesn't do something to the lawn.

I would like to try the traps next. I need some advice on how to do it. I have several of the Victor's mouse traps that are like rectangular aluminum boxes, where the critter checks in but doesn't check out. They will hold several small rodents at the same time. Will voles go into these if I put apple bits inside, or do voles need to be trapped in the snap traps? I feel sick when I think of putting the kind of traps that snap. I'd almost rather use glue traps, although I know some people don't like those, either. Would glue taps work with voles? Do I need to cover the traps under a big cardboard box or would a two-gallon flower pot be better?

I have a large dog in the fenced back yard, and I'm wondering if there is any way I can use traps there or not. According to one post above, someone was able to set out traps in the daytime, and catch voles within just a couple of hours. I suppose I could keep my dog inside while the traps are working. Does it really take only a few hours -- in the daytime -- to catch voles in traps? Or are they night-time critters?

Can somebody tell me how can I find out which holes are the "active" holes? There are so many of them! They are about every two feet apart. They all look active!! Most of the holes don't really look big enough for a vole, and I have seen bigger ones in the backyard (about an inch in diameter, going straight into the ground).

But it has been raining a lot, so maybe the ones I found tonight in the front have soaked in or something, and that's why they look smaller. I can't figure out which holes are active, so I don't know where to put traps or poison. My neighbor puts poisoned corn and such into the holes, but I am worried there could be long-term effects with that stuff. But perhaps the poison is better, at least in the front yard where my dog doesn't go?

I am at my wits end! Can anybody offer some emergency advice??


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Green, I feel your pain, but I'm afraid I have no emergency advice. just my sympathy. I have tons of tunnels too. I think the MoleMax (or MoleMed?) isn't working this year. I think the rain really stirred things up.

I put Grub-ex down a few days ago. I don't think I have grubs, but since I stopped using Grubex a few years ago, is when I've developed the vole problem. Maybe related. maybe not.

Vole's use mole tunnels so it could actually be mole tunnels we are seeing.

Did you mulch recently? that really brings them on too.

Last fall I picked up some D-Con No View No Touch mouse traps. I intended to put them in the garage where some field mice try to set up shop for the winter, but I never did. Maybe I'll set them in the gardens with the most tunnels. (and leave the dog inside)

I also don't understand exactly how to spot active tunnels. They all seem active. I stomp them down and a few days later they look fresh.

Good luck...


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Hi Green. Ouch. What an awful situation. But, as your name says, Green is Good. Are you sure you want to throw all of those chemicals at the problem? That might injure your dog also. Well -- apologies for preaching -- do what you must!

Holes the size of a dime sound a little too small for voles. I wonder if skunks or other grub eaters are digging up your lawn? Do you want to try Milky Spore? It is NOT fast-acting, but it is long-acting. After applying it once or twice, it should increase naturally in your soil going forward, controlling your grub population over the long-term (tho it only works on some types of grubs, it seems -- too much complexity for me!).

Personally, I am hoping that vole activity is cyclical --peaking now, and will fall off abruptly next year????
MoleMax is giving me a little relief, I think, but my biggest problem is in the fall. I, too, spot active tunnels by filling them in. When they are emptied the next day, I know.... I tend to put out snap traps next to active tunnels under pots propped up by a rock or brick. The pot keeps birds, squirrels and cats out. I usually catch somebody overnight. Yuck. I really hate killing creatures that way, but I don't have the fortitude to dig out all of my plants and re-plant with tons of grit/oyster shells/sand, etc. I replace the trap in the same area and catch more.... I am also planting lots of Nepeta and inviting neighborhood cats in to my yard.... I wish I could keep my own cats, as that sounds like the best long-term solution.
Good luck and keep us posted.
C


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Beneficial nematodes are a good organic option, and fast-acting as well, to help eliminate the grubs. They are available through Gardens Alive.

Those of us in the great vole wars will soldier on!

Patty


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I am sorry to say that I find green_is_good's post a little suspicious--maybe a troll in action. The poster joined the day of the post, has no other posts before or after on all of GardenWeb, and most important, has a name completely in conflict with his/her account of his/her vole war. No "green" advocate would nuke his/her property with all those chemicals. Info within the post is also a bit "off". Just doesn't sound like a real gardener in a real garden.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I love the juicy fruit idea. Only problem is that my current vole protection consists of the Dog Who Digs. After he completely thrashed an overgrown shade garden one afternoon, he stood on point for half an hour: he was waiting for me to pick up the dying vole at his feet (to take home and cook, I suppose). Anyway, I'm sure he'd LOVE the gum, wrappers and all.

As for trolls, ginny, they're a lot easier to ignore than voles are, and don't do any damage at all as long as you don't bite back. I agree with you that the barrage of chemicals doesn't sound good OR green. But people join GW sometimes when they're having a "garden crisis" so you can't assume that a new member is a troll, even if he or she posts an ... unusual story.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Um...what exactly is a "troll"? Someone up to no good? I'm having trouble imagining a nefarious purpose behind posting on a gardening forum.

Patty


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I wondered that too... sounded like way more chemicals than usual, which can always stir up debate. But I went the benefit-of-the-doubt route. Bayer and Scott make a gazillion dollars for a reason :-)


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

A troll is someone who isn't actually interested in the topic at hand, and writes inflamatory posts to see what sort of reaction he/she can get.

I don't think there's one on this thread, because, for one thing, they usually start their own threads (but that's not a rule) and because people do sometimes sound a little manic when they're having a problem (I know I do)

An "Internet troll" or "Forum Troll" is a person who posts outrageous message to bait people to answer. Forum Troll delights in sowing discord on the forums. A troll is someone who inspires flaming rhetoric, someone who is purposely provoking and pulling people into flaming discussion.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nettiquette reference


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Well, I am not a "troll." I am new to this forum and I am having a terrible vole problem, as I explained. I can't imagine how anyone who would write a message asking for help would be doing so just "for fun." I have been reading lots of online information and forums to try and get some ideas. I mentioned the products I have used to let people know what I've done to try and control the problem, hoping to find out if anybody else has had any problems or successes with such things, and not to advertise for companies who sell products. I am shocked to see that there are people on a garden forum who are so suspicious and hostile. I didn't expect to get that sort of unfriendly response from anyone. The response I got was pretty crazy. What sort of people are on this forum, anyway? I thought it was a place to get some help. Anyhow, I wish you all good luck, and I will look elsewhere for some help.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I have a major infestation of voles in all my beds around the patio and front porch. My lawn has holes running in straight lines from the house to the fence. Last fall during a windstorm five of my cherished rose bushes went sailing across the yard, they had no roots left and the wind just lifted them out of the ground. This spring my Hostas looked stunted and I blamed the late frost, but when I went to give them a little extra TLC, they also came right up....NO ROOTS!. I have tried every remedy I was told about, mothballs in the holes, garlic, Juicy Fruit Gum ( they actually pushed this back out). I wasted a fortune on those vibrating grounds stakes. A rural feed store about 20 miles away has Molemax, I have made two trips and cleaned them out of it every time, but a week later I found new holes going right into the roots of my plants. Then I tried a new remedy, old-fashioned Castor Oil ( not the "improved taste- and odorless kind) in the sprayer with water and a little dish soap. After two sweaty days of pumping and spraying, I just found three new entry holes, right under my Clematis and remaining Hostas.
I am on the warpath,My family is beginning to mention the movie Caddy Shack whenever I'm in earshot.
No more Mrs Nice Guy, I'm ready to call the Orkin Man!!!!
HELP!!!!!!!


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I am still having a problem this year too. There is no sure fire solution I am afraid. I have had Critter Control out here since March and still lost a good number of plants to voles. Replanting with gravel, grit, wire seems to be the only thing that works. I have also been using a product called Ramik Green and I think it has worked some, but not entirely. My problem appears to be my dry stacked stone walls. They are rodent condos! The next time I have any work done, I will have fine wire installed between the wall and any garden beds to break the connection.

This year is also a year for Milky Spore. Can anyone remind me when is the best time to spread it?

WG


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I think the general consensus is that the only reliable way to get rid of voles is to trap them. I've been using mouse traps to reduce the vole population in may yard for the past two years and it seems to help. Earlier this spring I pulled a dozen voles out of one bed, and have yet to see any new holes or plant damage. Trapping is awful work, but it seems to keep them under control.

We are considering putting up a few owl boxes in our yard to try to attract screech owls which love to eat voles. I hope this works.

-Josh-


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Josh--what kind of bait did you use in the mouse traps? I'd love to know. Thanks!


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Does anyone have any advice for dealing with the uneven ground caused by the tunnels, holes, and so forth? My yard was attacked by critters and now it has lumps and bumps all over. My main concern is how to deal with the unevenness of the ground, because it's hard to get around. Am I going to have to get it tilled and then re-seed the grass?


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Bumping this post, as I am sure I am not the only one suffering with this again!

I am going to need the spring plant swap next year to replace some of my losses! I am still up for hosting!


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I finally solved this problem but posted under "Seeking Digger Dee" because I saw that first.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Hello kindred spirits...

I have stumbled upon this thread many times in my futile attempts to find some humane way to 'repel' voles from my yard/garden. It has brought humor and ideas... for that I am much appreciative.

This year the little vermin have started war. Not only have they COMPLETELY eaten the entire root systems of my American Beautyberry and Double file Viburnum, they are literally eating my spring bulbs within DAYS of planting them in the ground. I have tried oyster shells, castor oil, garlic, bloodmeal, bobcat urine, fox urine, used kitty litter, dead moles my beloved dogs have brought to me (I shove the dead carcasses down in the hole with much satisfaction... even though I don't have the nerve to poison them myself... mostly out of concern for my dogs), I have shoved dog hair down in the holes (which they push right back out), human hair down the holes... no response yet from that one.
I read somewhere they don't like strong smells and noticed garlic as an ingredient in some of the organic repellents. So I have started taking my old onions and old garlic cloves, and choppping them up together to make a wonderfully odorous mixture... started sprinking that around some of the tender shoots of new growth. I hope and pray I haven't put a bullseye on my beloved plants.

I have noticed they haven't touched my daffadils, at least that is a plus. If they hurt my camillias or rhododendrons I think I will explode.

Not sure if anyone can help...but just thought I would ask in case there is anything I haven't tried. Oh yes...the only thing that seems to slow them down is permatil. I have four bags being shipped right now.

I have ordered milky spore for the grubs, and some snail/slug bait for the slimy things attracting moles. I have a gazillion earthworms which are fabulous for the soil...but arn't helping my plight.

By the way, my yard is mostly a deciduous woodland slope... lots and lots of oak leaves making mulch for my flower beds. I realize it is the voles doing the damage... but the moles aren't helping by making runways all over my yard.

Are there bulbs they don't like? Can I surround the tasty bulbs with those? What about plants? I have read they don't like fuzzy or prickly things... Are there bulbs that are simply a waste to try to plant because they are so good? I planted a carnation once...the vegatation was gone in 48 hours. Must be good stuff.

Thanks for any help!
Happy gardening to everyone... it has been a long miserable winter. Let's hope it makes for a fabulous spring bloom!
Anita


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Anita - You asked "Are there bulbs they don't like?" As you have noticed, they (& other critters) won't eat daffodils, so you will be safe planting more of those. Ornamental onions, Alliums, won't get eaten either. Wire baskets work pretty will to protect other bulbs with fine foliage like crocus.

In all honesty, I have found the best solution to having vole problems is owning a cat who goes outside. Since we lost ours to a car, we have had many more voles than ever before.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Wild onions... Alliums! Genius!

I have actually been looking at some of those very recently online... how exciting to think they won't get devoured as soon as I turn my back.
I fell asleep thinking of making a cage to protect the bulbs or new growth... good to know that it could actually work.

Thank you so much for your input!


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

We've tried pouring cat pee down vole holes but they simply dig new ones (we have a neurotic cat who prefers to pee in an empty plastic box).
My husband was wondering, since the voles seem to dislike the cat pee, if pouring an ammonia solution down the holes would have the same effect. Has anyone had experience with that?
I also read somewhere that using a hose sprayer with a mixture of equal parts castor oil and dish detergent to spray the soil works and is more cost effective than commercial products. Has anyone tried that and did it actually help?
I may also try the Juicyfruit solution.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Castor Oil is a main ingredient in many commercial products. Here's a video from New Hampshire Hostas on their experience using Castor Oil. I've not tried it yet.

Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: NH Hostas Organic Vole Control


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Thanks Steve - I tried the castor oil/dish soap spray yesterday so we shall see! I did find 3 new holes afterward and stuck a piece of onion and a dollop of castor oil down them. Then I filled them with dirt.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Yes, I believe castor oil is the main ingredient in things like MoleMax, etc., which I did seem to have some luck with. Good luck to you with the spray!

I probably should not say this out loud, but I haven't seemed to have had as much trouble with voles in the last two years or so, as I've had in the past. I probably just jinxed myself, but I have to say it's been nice to have a little break from them!

Dee


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Look how long we've been struggling with voles! I first looked them up on gardenweb years ago when we had tons. I remember a day when I snap-trapped fourteen in a couple of hours!

Here is an odd solution which has worked (apparently) for me. In frustration I began flooding the holes and tunnels with the end of my hose. Amazingly it seemed to work. I have done this for several years and where I use to have LOTS of voles and vole damage I rarely see a hole now and when I do I immediately flood it.

I did use oyster shells but I have such large gardens that it was completely impractical. And now where I did use them they keep coming to the surface - years later - and I don't like the look of them.

This year I have grubs and thus I have moles as well as skunks which dig holes in the lawn. I was able to move the moles away from the very front part of my yard also by flooding (stick the brass nozzle of the hose right through the turf into the tunnel) - it doesn't get rid of them like it seemed to get rid of the voles. But it did make them move. I am not a lawn fanatic but between brown spots from grubs and holes from skunks it's too ratty. I am using milky spore and it'll take quite some time before this solves the problem but it's the non-poison way to go and once established it'll do the trick for years.

Just to say - unless I missed this on this long thread - moles and voles have not got the same habits and thus need different solutions. Voles are not carniverous, do not eat grubs so getting rid of the grubs won't deal with the voles. I only brought up the topic of moles as they also don't seem to like flooded muddy tunnels.

After I tried my vole-death/relocation-by-flooding I read in an article somewhere that in Mexico some farmers were protecting their fields which were under vole attack by putting trenches filled with water around them.

Well, hope somebody else tried flooding and writes about how it works for them . If nothing else, it is very satisfying!!


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

I too have enormous problems in both my vegetable garden and berry patches. These areas are very heavily mulched with compost so they are extraordinarily rich with grubs, earthworms and various tasty roots. I'm not sure what to do at this point but it's very discouraging. We lost our cat a few years ago and, even though it was a treasure in keeping the rodent population in check, she was also into killing lots of song birds. We now have plenty of birds but are paying the price with these other guys. I'm going to set the traps to see if that will help.


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

hi all - a quick summary

- grubs (pre-Japanese beetles)eat grass roots, leave brown spots in lawn, and moles (carnivorous) make tunnels and eat grubs and skunks (also carnivouros) dig to eat them - only non poisonous solution is neamatodes (bag for 7000 square feet - repeat applications w. drop spreader necessary - fall, spring, fall) and once you get neamatodes into your soil grubs will be gone pretty much for good - poison is possible but temporary and not good for pets, birds, etc.

- voles are NOT carnivorous and don't care about grubs (or worms), but they may be opportunistic and use mole tunnels (who knows - no interviews have been done!)- when I first had voles I lost lots of plants and shrubs due to them eating roots, and trapping was a lost cause as they reproduce at a fierce rate

- I continue to have good luck flooding vole holes - since the first year I had them (a number of years ago) I do this quickly when I see holes and have lost virtually no plants

- local Agway agent says it is a huge year for grubs (back to moles and tunnels now)- and it is true - I have never seen anything like the tunnels all over my lawns and fields - like the NYC subway out there - I will report on neamatode success in 6-12 months as it takes hold

take heart - and I'd love to knowif anybody else has luck flooding out voles!

DEborah


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Deborah, I had heard about flooding the tunnels a few years back, and if I was watering a bed and spotted a hole, I would try to flood it. Well, those darn tunnels must go to China because I would stand there forever and the darn thing would never fill up! I still stick the hose down there occasionally if I see a hole but I don't expect any real results, and I don't use this as a deterrent as it just doesn't seem to work for me. It's more of a "Ugh! Another hole! Take that, you varmint!" kind of reaction, and then after a few minutes of wasting water I give up, lol! I've never had a hole actually "flood" for me. I'm glad it works for you and I'm jealous, lol!

Another option for grub control (and I'm sure I (and others) posted this somewhere along the line in this long-running thread!) is milky spore. Very pricey, and while I knew that voles were my nemesis and not moles, I tried some anyway, hoping to maybe cut down on the mole tunnels and therefore make life a bit more difficult for voles. Actually, the funny thing is, milky spore is targeted to Japanes beetle grubs, and the year after I spread it, I had Japanese beetles! Never had them before. So that was a rather expensive disappointment, especially since it didn't seem to help all that much with the mole tunnels.

Once again, at the risk of jinxing myself, I'll say that my vole problem has been greatly reduced. The thing is, I don't know *why*. While on one hand I am just happy it is reduced, on the other hand I wish I knew the reason or if it was something I did, in case of future problems (because I know it's just a matter of time....)

Dee


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

That's what I get for being a smarty-pants. It IS milky spore, you are completely right! Gets rid of grubs which gets rid of moles and skunks - and tunnels which MIGHT be ones voles use!!!

Maybe you did drown some young vole families even if the water seems to go to China??

I dunno!!! Anyhow - glad they are not so bad.

DEborah


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

That's what I get for being a smarty-pants. It IS milky spore, you are completely right! Gets rid of grubs which gets rid of moles and skunks - and tunnels which MIGHT be ones voles use!!!

Maybe you did drown some young vole families even if the water seems to go to China??

I dunno!!! Anyhow - glad they are not so bad.

DEborah


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

That's what I get for being a smarty-pants. It IS milky spore, you are completely right! Gets rid of grubs which gets rid of moles and skunks - and tunnels which MIGHT be ones voles use!!!

Maybe you did drown some young vole families even if the water seems to go to China??

I dunno!!! Anyhow - glad they are not so bad.

DEborah


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

My understanding is that milky spore is only effective against Japanese Beetles, and since moles like the other scarabs - e.g. oriental and asiatic - equally well, MS may not be all that helpful. I've used it and will probably reapply at some point, as it "blossoms" when there are a lot of JBs and then peters out when there are no beetles for it to grow on. There are also nematodes that attack other scarabs, but IME the system to bring those to market leaves a lot to be desired. I've used them a few times in an attempt to get rid of black vine weevil, and they haven't worked for me ... yet. Getting the right variety, having them delivered alive, applying correctly and at the exact right time, and then nurturing them until they find their target - those are the main "weak links" in the chain of events that might some day lead to eradicating a pest with nematodes.

Last time I tried nematodes on my rhodies, I had a 'control group' shrub that had the same level of bvw damage; I treated one with nematodes and the other with some nasty Bayer systemic. Neither product seemed to have any effect. Should that make me feel better, or worse? Still can't decide!


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Hi guys, I had terrible vole problems in the front gardens (and a minor losses in back) that started during the nightmare winter 2 years ago. The deep snow cover seemed to provide the perfect environment for voles and other rodents to breed and eat all winter long.

After the snow melted I discovered major losses of the Baptisia, Helianthus, Echinacea, Liatris, Hostas, etc. in the spring. Also, there were voles and chipmunks running around EVERYWHERE. The cat took care of most of the rodents, and the damages subsided except for the "front garden" esp. up close next to the sidewalk where the cat doesn't go.

So the damage continued on, Sedum, Salvia Black & Blue, all the bulbs (except daffs), and more. One day early last spring I looked out and saw 1/2 my huge Buddleia 'Black Knight' blown across the front yard. The voles had eaten the roots away and a large section blew away! Ugh! That was the last straw.

I mixed up the Castor oil/human urine solution that they recommended on the Hosta forum and sprinkled that all around the remaining perennials in the front garden (except for Foxglove and Daffodils, which nothing eats) and lo and behold, it worked! It has to be reapplied periodically, and so I also used some wire cages made out of Hardware cloth around the roots of the perennials that were transplanted back into the garden (the vole favorites).

No more vole damage since, and I've got the arsenal at the ready if needed. :)


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RE: Digger Dee and others: Vole Update Please

Poison pellets have helped reduce our vole population but not eliminate them. But I see progress. I am now trying oyster shell around new plantings, hardwire cages and using bird seed for bait in mouse traps. I tried apple last year but had no bites. By sheer ignorance I brought home some catmint to fill in my garden. They were sitting in the bed for a week and when I went to plant them, I could smell cat urine so I knew we had another feral cat in our beds which I was hoping for. I had no idea catmint attracts them. So now we are going to put a plant in every garden. In the country, we see cats roaming around but haven't had one at our house for a couple years. Hope they're hungry. My only concern is if a voles eats the poison and comes out of the hole to die, they may poison any larger animal that eats them. I also am going to try the caster oil and human urine...I hear that works. Another hint from a neighbor is to remove leaves and mulch in the flower beds before winter. They use this for cover.


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