Voles are small mammals that wreak havoc on residential lawns and gardens. Here are five tips to help you identify and manage voles in your Pennsylvania landscape.

1. Make Sure Your Pests Are Voles

Before you can address an invasion of your expensive sod, you need to identify the disruptor that actually does the damage. Several types of small mammals invade thatch, sod, and hay. Each type of lawn pest has specific management guidelines.

Small mammals that invade lawns in Pennsylvania include:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Moles
  • Voles
  • Shrews
  • Bog lemmings
  • Rabbits

Learn to spot the differences between the various yard invaders, or call your pest-control professionals to identify your problem lawn creatures for you.

2. Know the Types of Voles in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to four types of voles, but meadow voles are the most common yard invaders. Meadow voles look like overweight mice with snub noses.

Meadow voles are chestnut brown and measure between 6 and 7.6 inches in length (including the tail). The meadow vole is active year round, all day and night, with peak feeding periods at dawn and dusk. In winter, voles create pathways under snow to reach plants and roots.

Southern red-backed voles measure between 4.7 and 6.2 inches in length. Southern red-backed voles get their names from the red bands running down their backs. The forest-dwelling Southern red-backed mole is rarely a problem in the suburban landscape.

Rock voles are mostly in the northeastern portion of Pennsylvania. Rock voles look similar in appearance to meadow voles except with orange yellow noses.

Woodland voles are the smallest voles. The chestnut-brown and gray woodland vole measures between 4.3 and 5.5 inches in length. Also called pine voles, woodland voles don’t reproduce as prolifically as meadow voles.

3. Understand Vole Habitat and Behavior

Meadow voles live in moist meadows and grassy fields, where they create vast networks of pathways. A meadow vole’s diet consists of grasses, sedges, tubers, roots, and grains. Voles also eat crops in the ground.

Woodland voles burrow just under the soil to create tunnels. Other small mammals, including moles and shrews, sometimes use the burrows that woodland voles create. Woodland voles eat plant material including roots, stems, seeds, fruits, and tree bark.

The gestation period for voles is 21 days . Female voles can breed at four weeks of age and may have several litters per year. Each litter includes up to 11 offspring. In some locations, vole populations can increase to as many as 166 voles per acre.

4. Look for Signs of Vole Damage

Voles can do severe damage to every type of plant from grasses to trees. Since voles enjoy the roots and the above ground crops, the small mammals can exert double damage on a garden, orchard, or lawn.

Signs of vole damage include:

  • Raised crisscross patterns in grass after snow melt
  • Girdling of trees
  • Irregular gnaw marks on bark of trees
  • Feeding marks on garden plants and root vegetables
  • Weak, unhealthy fruit trees
  • Death of trees due to root damage

Since the above signs of vole damage may be present when other animals are the culprits, consult with your pest control service to confirm that your problem is voles.

5. Contact IPM Professionals for Control of Voles

Voles don’t like to be out in the open, so they generally only venture onto open lawns under the cover of winter snow. Many voles that invade over winter will leave your property of their own accord once the snow melts.

If voles stick around to destroy your yard and plants, you need to act before the voles breed. Your pest control company likely uses integrated pest management (IPM) to help you remove and repel voles.

Vole-management methods using IPM include:

  • Mechanical baiting
  • Trapping
  • Fumigation of tunnels
  • Poison baiting

Ask your pest control professional about the best IPM methods for your property’s vole control.

Find out for sure if the voles have invaded your Pennsylvania lawn by contacting Environmental Services Pest Control, LLC, today. We offer control of all types of lawn pests in the Montgomery County region including voles, moles, and shrews.