Skip to Content.
Sympa Menu

nafex - Re: [nafex] Voles and Controlling Them

Subject: North American Fruit Explorers mailing list at ibiblio

List archive

Chronological Thread  
  • From: Henry <>
  • To: mailing list at ibiblio - Northamerican Allied Fruit Experimenters <>
  • Subject: Re: [nafex] Voles and Controlling Them
  • Date: Sat, 9 Jul 2016 11:52:52 +0000 (UTC)

This video shows a test of the JT Eaton Wind Up Multiple Catch Mouse Trap

I have never used one so am not endorsing it.

--Henry Fieldseth
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, zone 4

On Fri, 7/8/16, Steve Herje <> wrote:

Subject: Re: [nafex] Voles and Controlling Them
To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <>
Date: Friday, July 8, 2016, 12:43 PM

Anyone know what brand of trap
they're referring to?  The only one I found
on line got pretty poor
reviews.   Thanks.  Steve H. Lone Rock
On Jul 4, 2016 10:24 AM, "Lawrence London" <>

Voles and Controlling Them

Tunneling Rodents that eat plants

[image: image of pine vole]
One of many Vole (Microtus) species, the Pine Vole is a bit
smaller and has
a shorter tail than the Meadow Vole.

[image: close up of vole face]
Unlike moles, voles are mostly plant eaters. These images
show the tiny
eyes, small, delicate feet and stubby tail which help
identify voles. While
moles will make long, ridged tunnels visible from above
ground, voles tend
to scratch out more invisible runways. Often, moles will
serve as the
"highway crew" and make tunnels in search of grubs and
worms. Voles will
often follow the mole tunnels and eat the plants which the
moles ignore.
Entire apple orchards have been lost to vole damage and we
have seen fairly
large chestnut trees killed by voles that ate their roots
off. We have lost
thousands of plants and countless vegetables to the
voracious voles. There
are very few plants that voles will not eat. They can have
several litters
a year, with 1-11 young per litter. Yikes!

Most voles are in the genus Microtus. Despite being the most
common mammal,
they are seldom seen because they are usually hidden beneath
mulch, leaf
litter and earth. While many people believe cats can control
voles, this is
almost never true, especially with vole species that travel
deeper in the
earth. Natural predators include owls, foxes, wolves,
weasels, shrews and
snakes. The Mole snake, or Mole King snake (Lampropeltis
rhombomaculata) is
one of the few predators which can follow vole tunnels and
so is one of the
better predators. Unfortunately, control by predators is
satisfactory in a garden setting. While some poisons are
listed for vole
control, these can be dangerous to other animals and must be
used with
extreme care. We prefer to use several different kinds of
mouse traps,
along with physical barriers that inhibit voles (or moles)
from tunneling
into garden areas.

Using Barriers

In some gardens, especially vegetable gardens, it is
possible to make a
trench around the garden, about a foot deep. This is more
easily done right
after the garden is tilled. Most voles, tunneling right
beneath the
surface, tend to turn back when they hit the trench and they
are reluctant
to cross on top of the ground. It helps to make a trench
down to harder
ground, if possible. Vigilance is necessary and gardeners
should be on the
lookout for new holes on the garden side of the trench. Rob
has grown
potatoes and parsnips in vole infested areas using this
method. Mulch or
straw should be avoided in vole problem areas.

In some cases, such as a bog garden or flower bed, it may be
more effective
to remove the soil and line the bog or bed with galvanized
steel mesh
(hardware cloth), a layer of rock, or heavy-duty weed
barrier. Any barrier
needs to be without underground openings and extend to the
surface. (See
our Bog Making web page for more details.) While voles can
chew through
weed cloth, they usually don't, especially if one patrols
the perimeter and
collapses any approaching tunnels. We havebog gardens
protected in this
fashion. Doubling or tripling a weed cloth layer helps.
Again, avoid
mulches and look for new entry tunnels. Snow can be a
problem, since voles
will travel quickly on top of the ground, under cover of

Trapping Voles

Traps can be one of the better methods of vole control.
Traps are best set
during the evening and are more effective if you can cover
the traps with a
box, plastic pots, or anything to make the spot darker while
still allowing
the traps room for motion. Here, the most successful bait
has been Granny
Smith apple, cut into pea-sized pieces. Traps should be
placed just outside
of tunnel entryways. A couple pieces of apple, dropped into
the tunnel,
allows the aroma to draw in the rodents. Try to trap an
area, not just a
single tunnel. Traps should be checked daily, especially
live traps.

We've tried a couple designs in live traps, some of which
can catch up to
fifteen mice or voles. So far, the best results have been
with the type of
repeater trap that has a wind-up spring. A paddle wheel
flips the rodents
into a metal chamber. It's important to put some apple
inside the trap, in
the "holding" area, in the metal pathway and also where the
rodents can't
get to the bait-inside the metal box on the trapping
mechanism side of the
device. Usually, the top on these traps slides off. Be sure
to check the
trap at least daily. The advantage of live traps is that you
can release
other animals that might accidentally get caught. We have
caught shrews,
lizards and even a flying squirrel in these traps. If you
are not familiar
with small mammals, you might want to pick up a field guide
to mammals.
Shrews, for example are good to release as they feed
primarily on insects,
worms and rodent young. Shrews often live in the same area
as voles. While
sharing the features of tiny eyes and small feet, shrews
have pointy noses
and sharp teeth. Use caution releasing shrews, they are
occasionally fierce
and confront much larger animals, even people! Most folks
drown voles in a
five gallon bucket of water. If you want to release them far
away, a meadow
is usually suitable; just don't release voles in
cultivated/farmed areas.

Regular, snap type mouse traps can be very effective in
killing voles. When
baiting this style of trap, try to cut pea-sized pieces of
apple that
include some skin. If the skin is slid under the bait bar's
hook or teeth,
it will be harder for a rodent to steal the bait. Again,
drop a couple
pieces of apple inside tunnels. Voles often turn
cannibalistic and a trap
with fragments of skin usually indicates additional voles.

There is another style of repeater mouse trap which does not
have a paddle
wheel. This type has entry ramps that are spring loaded or
weighted. Rodents go in but can't get out. So far, we have
had poor results
with this type of trap. Voles are bigger than common mice.
For this reason,
the less expensive, plastic, live mouse traps may not work
well or at all.

Whatever methods you use to control Voles, be vigilant and
scout for
shallow tunnels or evidence of new infestations. Extending
the control area
beyond the gardens you're protecting is a good idea.
Ignoring Vole problems
can lead to disastrous overpopulation and the inability to
grow most
nafex mailing list
Northamerican Allied Fruit Experimenters
subscribe/unsubscribe|user config|list info:
nafex mailing list
Northamerican Allied Fruit Experimenters
subscribe/unsubscribe|user config|list info:

Archive powered by MHonArc 2.6.24.

Top of Page