Moles and voles can be very annoying little creatures.
Moles are usually the ones that leave tunnels in our lawns, while voles are more destructive to our plants by feeding on stems, roots and bark. It can sometimes be difficult to control either one and all methods of keeping them out are never 100%. Over my career, I’ve received many questions about both of these destructive little animals.
Moles actively feed all day and will feed on a number of things. Their main diet consists of earthworms, insects and small amounts of vegetation. Eliminating one of these can cause them to change their diet and focus on other things.
You’ll see pesticides used for eliminating grubs in the lawn to help move moles. The issue with this is that grubs are just one part of their diet.
Moles will use two types of tunnels: those underground and surface tunnels. They’ll also have main tunnels that are used every day, while some tunnels are side roads that are not travelled but maybe once or twice.
There is no easy way to get rid of moles. The best and easiest way is by traps. Before setting a trap, go through and step on a few tunnels and see which ones the moles are actively using every day. This way you know you are placing the trap in a tunnel that is one of the main tunnels. When placing the trap make sure you completely cover any holes also around the trap. Sometime light will prevent them from using that tunnel.
Voles are a completely different animal and they look similar to a mouse. The main difference between a mouse and a vole is that the vole will have a short tail. They like thick areas of grass and brush and eliminating areas that are thick can sometimes suppress them from being around the home landscape.
They will feed on many perennials and can even lead to death of many of our favorite plants. Their diet will consist of bulbs, tubers, roots and even bark. So, when you think your tulips are all being eaten by moles, it is more than likely voles.
There are two main methods of eliminating them. One is where you use a zinc phosphide impregnated bait. If you decide to use a bait, make sure you will keep it away from non-target hosts. Try placing them in the tunnel directly with a funnel.
The other way to try and eliminate them is by using a trap. These should be placed near their hole with something that attracts them such as peanut butter.
Lucas Holman is the Horticulture UT-TSU Extension Agent for Wilson County. He can be reached at (615) 444-9584 or Lholman1@utk.edu.