Voles are members of the genus, Microtus, and there are over 60 different species in various parts of the world. In home landscapes in North America, you are most likely to come into contact with the woodland vole, meadow vole and the prairie vole.

These critters can grow up to about 7 inches in length with tails that are less than 2 inches long. The immature vole is gray with adults being darker brown with slightly lighter colored bellies. Their ears are relatively small (that is what the genus name refers to) and do not rise much above the fur.

Voles are primarily critters of grassy, weedy areas and are often found in home landscapes. In long grass or other vegetation they will build tunnels in the foliage. They may also use underground tunnels and will use those may by mice or groundmoles. Note: This may be why moles are sometimes incorrectly blamed for damage to bulbs. Moles are insectivores that eat animals such as grubs or worms and generally do not bother plant material.

Damage: Voles, like most rodents, love to chew on things. The damage they do will be at or just below ground level. In southern parts of the United States voles do a lot of damage to hostas.

In parts of the country which receive a lot of snow, voles are often the cause of the death of trees. They burrow under the snow cover and find the base of a young tree. Since there is nothing else to eat, the will chew at the bark and, if they do enough damage, may girdle the tree causing its death.

Rabbits may do a similar type of chewing damage but their bit marks are larger than the voles plus they will chew off small branches in a single bite while voles must nibble with their smaller mouths. Vole tooth marks will be about 1/8 of an inch wide by 3/8 of an inch long, much smaller than a rabbit.

Critter Management Options:

Exclusion - Change Habitat - Trap - Repel - Poison

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

 

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