What is a vole?
Voles — sometimes referred to by the names “field” or “meadow” mouse — are an incredibly common pest, but are often confused with other, more recognizable pests like mice, rats, gophers, and similar ground rodents.
Though the vole is similar in appearance, they can be distinguished by their size, which is usually around 4 to 9 inches in length; their color, which is usually some variance of gray or brown; and their body shape, which is described as chubbier and rounder in stature than that of the common mouse. Eight different varieties of voles that are catalogued as living in the state of Colorado.
Predators, such as snakes, owls, bobcats, and coyotes, see the vole as a great source of food, largely, we assume, because of their great abundance. Voles reproduce very quickly, which while good for the predator, can be extremely frustrating for home and property owners burdened by their infestation.
Do voles behave destructively?
Voles can reach their sexual maturity at just one month, and mothers can birth as many as 10 voles per litter as many as 10 times per year. That’s one hundred voles from just a single vole! Imagine that replicated over and over again with every pup-rearing vole. That’s A LOT of voles to contend with.
Not only are their numbers a concern, but their behavior is as well. They are destructive pests and can have an extremely detrimental effect on the trees and other agricultural life on your property. Voles are what we in the business call a year-round pest, with a lifespan that lasts for about six months, further highlighting the speed with which they reach sexual maturity and reproduce, as well as how important it is to deal with a vole issue the moment you believe you have one.
They’re small, and so is the amount of ground they cover, in terms of what’s called their “home range,” which is in reference to the size of the area that they live, feed, nest, and reproduce. Because of their small size, voles are known to travel no longer than approximately a quarter acre. With the potential for there to be hundreds upon hundreds of voles in a single acre of land, the destruction they can cause can be drastic and permanent.
What type of destruction do voles cause?
How? Well, voles are a threat to your property’s fruit trees, flowering plants, and gardens due to what is called “girdling.” What is girdling? Girdling is where voles will, through chewing, remove bark from the circumference of a tree’s branch or its trunk. Girdling will kill the tree as its bark is a protective that that the vole has removed. This poses a threat to those who have and take pride in their ornamental trees, and especially those who have orchards or trees that they rely upon for food, income, or other purposes.
How do vole repellents work? And DO they work?
Eradication is a must. But will standard DIY, off-the-shelf methods work to exterminate voles from your property? First, let’s take a look at the standard methods available to you from most home improvement, hardware, and garden center stores.
The most common types of at-home vole extermination repellents are sprays, granules, and ultrasonic methods.
Granules — Granules are small, dried, often castor-oil-based grains that are designed to be spread across the ground and activated by water. After dissolving in water (either by rain, sprinklers, or other methods) the granules will leech into the ground — even into the tunnels of voles and other creatures, like moles — and will emit a strong odor. Voles are very sensitive to smells, and these granules, which are often scented with fragrances like garlic, thyme, citronella, pepper, and rosemary. In theory, these strong odors will overwhelm the voles, and drive them away from your property.
Sprays — Sprays are designed in a very similar manner as granules, and feature many of the same scents that voles are sensitive to, like rosemary, mint, and the like. Much like sprays that are designed for ant extermination, they work fine for those creatures that are visible, but they are not effective enough to address the infestation underground at the nesting site. These sprays aren’t permanent and the odors will dissipate over time, having no beneficial long-term effect.
Ultrasonic — Ultrasonic repellents are interesting in that they are designed to repel voles through sound vs. scent, by emitting a frequency that is undetectable by humans but is unsettling to voles. The tone, if effective, should drive the voles away. Many of these units are solar-powered and can be (somewhat inconspicuously) staked into the ground throughout your property. Reviews of their effectiveness vary, with reports that things like tree roots and other underground obstacles can create dead zones that cause the units to have no effect on vole behavior.
Vole extermination — what’s the bottom line?
Listen, we love it when folks take matters into their own hands, but vole infestations are not your average, run-of-the-mill pest situation. They’re resilient, fast-breeding creatures that can wreak havoc on your property if you’re not able to address them in a quick and effective manner.
That’s why we do urge the folks in our community to seek our professional guidance and assistance with vole extermination. The Effective Pest Services team has the knowledge, experience, and equipment necessary to rid your property of the voles you have and to keep them from coming back. It’s the peace of mind you deserve, and it is what we strive to deliver to each and every one of our clients.