Monday, April 06, 2009

Moles vs. Voles

It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936

Yesterday, Ceri asked how moles and voles are different. Interestingly, most folks have never even heard of voles -- and this includes places like Home Depot, where I went to get some kind of vole control yesterday (unsuccessfully).

::Warning: Stepping on Soapbox::

As an aside, I was horrifed at all the truly inhumane ways you can catch mice and rats. Seriously. Glue traps? Should be outlawed... can you imagine?? How can anyone just throw a live animal away while it either starves to death or chews off its own limbs to get away? "Pest" or not, it deserves humane treatment, IMHO. Kill it if you must, but quickly and as painlessly as possible, please (which is why I agonize over using poison... and still haven't decided to do so).

::Steps down from Soapbox::

In any case...

Moles: First off... moles are far less destructive than voles, IMHO. They also eat insects (another plus) -- typically grubs, and other critters that live in the ground, and any damage they do to your lawn and garden is incidental. They are solitary (ANOTHER plus!), produce young only once a year and have small litters (WOOT! Another plus!) and they look like this (they're fairly large -- at least the one my dog, Bailey, dug up was... about 8" long):

Voles: Voles eat vegetation, feeding on roots, bulbs and anything they can find -- tops AND bottoms of plants (most recently, my voles ate all the green parts of my crocus plants... grr). They cause a lot of destruction by gnawing on young trees and shrubs. They can strip the bark of the plant at ground level, killing or exposing it to insects or diseases. They have a tremendous reproductive rate, able to give birth at one month of age and have several litters a year. They look like this (and are TINY... maybe two inches long):

I have to decided what to do soon -- if I plant my veggie garden without having these buggers under control, they'll just eat that, too.


You Are Milk Chocolate

A total dreamer, you spend most of your time with your head in the clouds.

You often think of the future, and you are always working toward your ideal life.

Also nostalgic, you rarely forget a meaningful moment... even those from long ago.

Umm... not really...



groovyoldlady said...

Moles and voles
Eating maples down to boles
Filling gardens full of holes
Playing environmental roles
and trying our very souls; We bang our heads on poles
because of voles and moles

(Thank you, thank you! My anthology of "Really Awful Poetry" will available from GrunderPress at the end of April '09. Oh heck, let's be honest - If you want bad poetry from me, you can have it any time!)

Dru said...

You Are White Chocolate

You are sweet, caring, and truly very innocent.

Whether your naive ways are a bit of act or not, people like to take care of you.

You are a quiet flirt, and your power is often underestimated!
Where is this person who likes to take care of me?

For a small animal it sure eats a lot. I'd rather have moles.

Have a good Monday.

Brandy said...

I was Milk Chocolate, but am not much of a dreamer. The other bits sound about right.
Sorry to hear you're having such a difficult time finding a humane way of getting rid of the voles. I hope a solution presents itself to you soon.

I wish a good day for you!

Keri Mikulski said...

I never knew voles existed. Hmm.. Sorry to hear about your problem.

Ceri Hebert said...

I'd never heard of voles before reading your blogs either. Maybe my mom has voles and not moles, although she did say she was surprised her flowers seemed to be doing well despite the presence of the buggers. I'll have to double check.

Yeah, I don't think I could use traps like those nasty ones. I'm a softie when it comes to rodents. Insects are one thing, other critters are quite another.

Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

I think you are right to hold off on the poison. Many are not humane and it is just as likely to hurt other animals. Please do not use zinc phosphide or an anticoagulant; both can cause many problems. Although voles can damage plants and frustrate gardeners, it is possible to live harmoniously with them. Try planting some of their favorite things far away from your plants. Keep the grass cut very low- they really like to feed on grass. You can also protect your plants, there are helpful tips online for ways to block them from the plants you want to save. There are also great repellents which are kid and pet friendly. I hope you find a way to live with them or nicely convince them to go elsewhere.

matthewr100 said...

The best success I have had with getting rid of moles is using the bait and applicator from

Hope this helps!