Most of us are aware that moles and voles are two different animals, but mole and vole identification is a completely different matter. What do moles look like? What do voles look like? How do we get rid of moles or voles?
The ABCs of Moles
Moles are insectivores and are related to shrews. Adult moles are five to eight inches long and have brown or dark gray fur. Their noses and tails are pink. Even without functioning eyes, moles are still sensitive to light. Their broad, shovel-shaped feet have five toes and sharp, thick claws, making them highly efficient burrowers. Because they dine and dwell underground, they have few natural predators.
Moles eat from 70 to 100 percent of their weight every day. Because of their food needs, moles must cover a large area –and that translates to more yard destruction. Molehills and shallow tunnels are the results of this destruction. Molehills are circular dirt mounds, which surround vertical shafts. Molehills generally have round ripple marks left by every new load of soil pushed to the surface. One mole can dig up to 100 feet of raised-surface tunnels a day, creating a convex surface that make lawn mowing a challenge. The tunnels also create brown lines in your lawn when grass roots are damaged by burrowing activity/exposure to air. Seeing such a large area of damage, one might figure a whole army of moles is destroying your yard, when actually three to five moles per acre is considered a high population.
The ABCs of Voles
What does a vole look like? A vole is a blunt-nosed, short-tailed mouse, usually up to three inches long and charcoal gray. Herbivorous, voles prefer areas of lush vegetation, such as bulbs, tubers, herbaceous plants, and many types of grass. The size of a burrow system for multiple adults and their young will vary with the quality of the habitat, food supply, and population levels: In most cases it is only a few hundred square feet.
Voles are prolific breeders, so it doesn’t take long for a few voles to become hundreds of hungry voles. Voles chew their way through the thatch layer, which creates numerous shallow burrows containing underground nests of grass, stems, and leaves. Most damaging, voles will tunnel under snowpack, creating tunnel systems that only become apparent after the snow melts.
The most common sign of a vole infestation is the discovery of a single or multiple 1-inch holes in the yard, garden, or plantings. Also present might be a 1-inch wide trail, concave in relation to the ground. (This would look similar to a trail created by a bicycle tire.) Voles are primarily nocturnal–if you see them in daylight, it is indicative of a very high population.
How To Get Rid of Moles and Voles
According to Consumer Reports, trapping is the most successful method to rid your yard of moles. While different variations are available, the type that consistently achieves results is a spear trap. (Some homeowners mistakenly believe that treating their lawns for grubs will repel moles. Grubs are only a tiny percentage of a mole’s diet, so treating for grubs will have no impact on the moles–there is still plenty for them to eat.)
To minimize vole damage, the key is to manage the population before the numbers get too large. Mildly effective ways to discourage voles, such as planting flowers that are not palatable to them (e.g. daffodils and crown imperials), may help slightly, but the most successful technique to eradicate voles is a combination of professional services such as repellants, exclusion barriers, vole rodenticides, and trapping.
Not every pest company gets to boast that they have “The Mole Hunter” as their president, but we do! Jeff Holper, aka “The Mole Hunter,” passes on his knowledge to all of our technicians so that your lawn will benefit as your moles are added to the more than 50,000 moles already caught by Holper’s Pest & Animal Solutions. For voles, the Holper’s process begins with a thorough inspection and is followed with a personalized treatment program combining the elements of professional services that your situation requires.
In the war of moles vs. voles, you will always be the winner when you contact Holper’s at 314-732-1413!