Moles? Voles? Let’s call the whole thing off…

Voles make small holes in the ground and eat lots of plants. (Courtesy Hilton Pond Center)
Voles dig holes in your lawn

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 6:02 am

Mike McGrath, wtop.com

Well which one is it?

“Hopeless in Amissville” writes, “I seem to have a mole infestation. There are an insane amount of tunnels, and some of my flower and veggie plants have disappeared down the holes. I’ve tried the spikes that emit sound to no avail. Can you offer any suggestions to get rid of these pesky creatures?”

Well, it depends on what kind of pesky creatures you have, “Hopeless.” Moles make raised tunnels, especially in lawns, but they don’t eat plants. Voles make small holes in the ground and eat lots of plants. And really big holes that plants “disappear down” could be a sign of groundhogs. Identifying the pest is job number one, although those ultrasonic devices won’t work against any of them.

“I see both,” writes back the “Hopeless” one, “small holes and tunnels.” Well, then you might well have moles and voles and keep an eye out for groundhogs! The first thing I’d try is a castor oil repellent. Sold in both liquid and powder form as mole and vole repellents at most garden centers, you apply the concentrated castor oil over your entire landscape — not just in the holes or over the tunnels — and it imparts a smell underground that urges both of these subterranean nuisances to move on.

I would also put out a lot of snap traps baited with peanut butter to knock the vole population down. Place them alongside raised bed frames or under the cover of leafy plants. Voles don’t like going out in the open so check the traps often. And I’d also consider spraying beneficial nematodes on the lawn to knock out any grubs the moles may be feasting on. Gardens Alive is one good source of the microscopic predators, and you’ll find a lot of other suppliers online.


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