Voles are small rodents that are sometimes called “field mice.” As soon as you have identified that you are dealing with voles, it’s time to act. Voles can reproduce quickly in response to an abundant food supply. A single breeding pair can lead to a population of several hundred voles by the end of the summer. Thus, the damage they cause will increase exponentially if you don’t act quickly.
There are three basic techniques that are used to control vole populations, and the most effective strategy is to use all three.
Voles move into your yard because the conditions are right for them. Get rid of excess vegetation that can provide an abundant food supply. Eliminate ground covering mulch around trees and other places where you see the signs of vole damage. Keep your lawn mown so there will be less cover for voles to forage under.
This will help encourage voles to move to other areas for foraging and make recolonization of your yard less likely.
Exclusion techniques can reduce damage to your plants during elimination efforts.
If you have specific plants that you are worried about or the voles seem to favor, you can keep them away with a cylinder of hardware cloth. The mesh size should be ¼ inch or smaller. Make sure you bury it at least six inches underground to prevent the voles from going under it.
Chemicals can also be used to repel voles. Capsaicin, the spicy ingredient in chili peppers, and thiram, a fungicide, can both be used to make plants unpalatable to voles for a short period of time. Hopefully your elimination efforts will be successful before voles become accustomed to the taste and they lose effectiveness.
The best way to eliminate voles is with chemical baits. These chemical baits are poisonous not only to voles but to humans and other animals. Placing baits directly in the vole holes can reduce the risk of accidental exposure to pets, wildlife, and children.
Zinc phosphide is a toxic bait that can only be used by licensed applicators. It can be absorbed through the skin and should be handled only with gloved hands.
Anticoagulant baits for voles are basically the same ones that are used for rats and mice, and they can be very effective. They’re also less toxic, work more slowly, and have an antidote, which makes them much safer.
Remedies That Don’t Work
There are many things that people will try to sell you that don’t work on voles. You can’t frighten moles away, smoke them out, or gas them. Traps can be effective if you have just a few, but likely by the time you know they’re there, it’s too late for traps.
If you need help controlling your vole population anywhere along the Front Range, from Fort Collins to Denver and Castle Rock, please contact Animal & Pest Control Specialist, Inc. today.