How to Prevent Voles

Overview

Voles, also known as meadow mice, are a menace to the home garden and lawn. They eat grasses, herbaceous plants, bulbs, roots and bark. Not only do voles cause damage because of their feeding habits, but they also travel underground in tunnels (or runways), pushing up your lawn and garden and creating uneven and often dangerous conditions. Fortunately, there are many effective measures to help prevent voles. For greater success, use a combination of methods.

Step 1

Keep your garden free from overgrowth, such as dense clusters of weeds, ground covers, vegetation debris and thick mulches. Voles hide from their predators in these areas. Stop protecting them and your vole population should decrease. In addition, once you remove these coverings, you may find their tunnel openings and burrows where they live so you can more effectively set traps (described in step 6).

Step 2

Maintain a mowed lawn, especially near your garden. Voles feed more often and travel more freely in overgrown grasses than mowed ones.

Step 3

Till your garden about once or twice a month. Till not only to get rid of weeds and ground covers, but to also destroy underground tunnels and runways.

Step 4

Create a non-vegetative border--or buffer--around the perimeter of your garden that the voles are afraid to cross. A 15-foot-wide border is ideal. However, around trees and vines where there is no vegetation near the ground, a 4-foot wide circular buffer around the tree or vine will suffice since the voles are not likely to feed off the bark or roots out in the open.

Step 5

Install a wire fence around your garden. The mesh size should be no more than ¼ of an inch or the voles will crawl right through. The fence should be at least 12 inches above ground and at least 6 inches buried underground.

Step 6

Use mousetraps baited with apple slices or a peanut butter-oatmeal mixture. Set traps throughout your garden and next to their underground openings with the bait ends closest to the tunnels. Position traps perpendicular (at a right angle) to the direction of the tunnels, as evident by the raised ground.

Step 7

Get an outdoor cat and you will soon see the vole population disappear, since cats prey on voles.

Tips and Warnings

  • Handle dead voles with rubber gloves. Bury them or place them in a sealed plastic bag and discard in the garbage.

Things You'll Need

  • Mower
  • Rototiller, hoe or garden rake
  • Mulch
  • Wire mesh
  • Mousetraps
  • Bait
  • Cat

References

  • University of California IPM: Voles (Meadow Mice)
  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension: Voles in the Vegetable Garden
Keywords: eradicate voles, prevent voles, prevent meadow mice

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.