Voles — a common Colorado pest
You might know them by their other commonly used names, like meadow mouse or field mouse. Whichever moniker you choose, you’re referring to a vole. Voles run rampant in our area, but they’re often misidentified. They bear a resemblance to other small ground rodents, like mice, rats, and even gophers, but they’re distinctly different creatures.
In Colorado state, it is reported that there are as many as eight different types of voles occupying our area. Most all voles are about four to nine inches in length, are some combination of brown or gray in color, and, in terms of body type, are described as being chubbier and more circular in shape than a common mouse.
Due to their abundance, the vole is common prey for a variety of predators, including bobcats, owls, snakes, and coyotes. The vole can reproduce very quickly, making them a relatively reliable diet staple for these and other predators. By not getting on top of an infestation on your property, you may be not only allowing vole-related damage to be caused, but you might also be inviting unwanted predators to your home, as well!
Vole infestations can happen very quickly — act fast!
Voles have an incredibly fast-breeding cycle. These rodents can reach sexual maturity as quickly as one month after birth, and the pup-rearing voles can give birth to as many as 10 pups per litter, 10 times per year. That’s ONE HUNDRED voles a year from JUST ONE VOLE. Multiply that number by the number of pup-bearing voles and you, without a doubt, have a hefty vole infestation on your hands. There’s no time to waste!
Why is it such a concern to have voles on your property? Well, it’s not just the volume of voles, it is what the voles themselves are capable of causing. You see, voles have a relatively small home range (meaning the size of the area that they nest, feed, and reproduce), never traveling further than about a quarter acre. But as the size of their colony increases, so does its footprint. It’s not inconceivable that you might have as many as four hundred or more voles living and multiplying just slightly underground on an acre of your property. This large number of voles needs resources, like shelter, water, and food, and if you have what they desire on your property (and if they’re living there, you probably do), then you can anticipate that the vegetation on your property will face some level of destruction.
Voles can cause extensive damage to your property’s plant life!
Voles are known to be incredibly destructive, especially to flowering plants like those found in gardens, fruit trees, and other agricultural vegetation. They cause this through a process called “girdling.” Essentially, girdling is the act of removing a ring around the circumference of a tree’s limb, branch, or trunk, which will ultimately harm and kill the plant.
If you rely on these trees (or similarly damaged plants) for income or simply have these ornamental plants on your property because you enjoy them, then beware. Voles can’t wait to get their incisors on them, and due to the fact that they have a six-month lifespan and are constantly breeding, you just might have a steady stream of varmints to contend with if you’re not careful.
Vole repellents — just the facts!
We make no qualms about the importance of exterminating voles from your property. This is a pest that has little redeeming value and poses a great deal of risk to your home and property, given the circumstances.
Our clients ask us all of the time about off-the-shelf vole repellents, and we always share our frank, expert opinion on the matter.
First, we give folks an overview of the most common types of vole repellents that are available for the consumer market, including granule, spray, and ultrasonic options.
Voles are sensitive to odors, and granule repellents consist of small, dry pellets that contain scents of mint, rosemary, thyme, garlic, citronella, pepper, and other strong scents that, once perceived by the voles, are designed to drive them away from their nesting sites. The granules are designed to be spread around an infestation site and are activated by water. The odors will leech into the ground, ultimately repelling the pests.
Sprays are very similar in purpose — they contain many of the same scents as granules — but, unlike the granules, are not activated by water. This might make distribution of the fragrances seem more user-friendly, but they are not as concentrated as the granules, and, in our estimation, are not as effective, since they can only be applied at the surface level.
The ultrasonic methods are interesting because they aim to drive away voles and similar ground pests not through odor, but through sound, by emitting a frequency that is undetectable by humans but intolerable and jarring to the vole colony. They usually small and resemble solar lights you might see lining an outdoor pathway or garden bed. The reviews on these repellents are spotty, as their effectiveness can often be thwarted by tree roots, fence posts, and other void-causing objects that sound will bounce off of or be absorbed by.
Vole extermination and prevention — the verdict
Voles are resilient, fast, fast-breeding, and difficult to stay on top of. While we appreciate many of the DIY methods available to consumers, we believe that professionals are best equipped to effectively rid a person’s home or commercial property of a vole infestation. Effective Pest Services has been helping people in our community for years to rid themselves of voles. We take the time to identify vole nesting sites (that can be easily overlooked) and apply the right combination of knowledge and extermination techniques that will ultimately give you the outcome you want and the value you deserve.