Question: Hello. I have a serious vole problem in my back yard. They tunnel under my lawn, eating the grass and roots, plus it is hard to see them under the snow. Can you help?
ANSWER: Voles (primarily the woodland vole) are small rodents that are similar to mice. However, they are quite different from mice and moles (which also tunnel underground). Voles are grayish-brown and about 5-6 inches long. Unlike the house mouse, voles have a blunt nose, short furry ears, and small eyes.
Voles live outdoors in shallow burrows in the soil; they feed on the roots and tubers of trees and plants, and can cause extensive damage to plantings and orchards. They are sometimes found in sheds and in basements, but do not naturally infest houses. Vole populations peak in natural cycles every few years, and during this time they can be very abundant. They prefer grassy areas or areas with heavy mulch and ground cover. They travel in above-ground runways and underground burrows.
Controlling these animals is not easy, but the best a homeowner can do is make their yards less attractive to the voles. Keeping the lawn mowed, having little or no dense groundcover, like creeping junipers, and keeping the lawn weeded are some natural controls that can be done. Snap traps or glue boards at the entrance of burrows can also be done.
Due to the difficulty in controlling the voles, it is often best to seek professional help. Call your local Orkin branch office, and an Orkin Pest Specialist will assess your situation, recommending a customized treatment plan to control these critters.