If you’ve noticed any tunneling or perhaps a missing plant or two this fall, voles may be the culprits. They enjoy tunneling in soft, moist soil and can eat plant roots that are in their way. Lawns and beds are favored habitat, particularly if surrounded by lush vegetation. Sometimes voles are a problem around drip irrigation lines that keep surrounding soil moist. Moles run in the same tunnels dug by voles.

We recommend a complete fall clean up to remove potential winter habitat for voles and moles. Ornamental grasses, tall perennials and the like need to be cut down now. Then we apply a product containing dried castor oil to the areas in question. When ingested, the voles move on, so we often make a repeat visit to treat adjoining areas. This product can even be applied over a light snow covering.

Recently we met a vole moving through a garden and noted that one peony and one aster had already been consumed at the root level!

If you are not troubled by voles, we want to encourage you to leave a light layer of leaves as a free winter mulch on your garden beds. A full cleanup can be completed in spring. It does no good to have all or most of the spring-applied bark mulch plus leaves blown off now, leaving nearly bare soil right at the time when plants need this layer of winter protection.

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