Preventing Voles From Eating Flower Bulbs


You might think that a vole is a mouse at first because they are both small, furry rodents. But voles have short tails, while mice have long ones. Voles live underground, and mice can inhabit many types of environments. Voles love to eat flower bulbs and can decimate your patch of prized daffodils or other bulbs before they get a chance to bloom. These creatures harm trees and other types of plants as well, so keeping voles under control will benefit your entire garden. You can choose from several methods for deterring voles from your flower bulbs.

Step 1

Locate the voles' tunnels and then stuff steel wool into the openings.

Step 2

Pull weeds, mow and generally clean up your garden areas to eliminate voles' hiding places. Also remove any mulch or other material that might be covering the ground around your bulb-planting area.

Step 3

Rototil the area where you have seen evidence of voles---because they travel in tunnels close to the surface, doing this can both kill any voles that are present and also cause their tunnels to collapse and close.

Step 4

Bait the burrows with zinc phosphide, capsaicin or an anticoagulant, available at nurseries. These products are recommended if you have a large vole population. You might need to reapply chemical repellents several times to see a reduction or elimination of your vole population.

Step 5

Insert mousetraps perpendicular to the voles' below-surface runways, with the trigger end pointing into the runway. Bait them with peanut butter, oatmeal or apples---you'll have the best chance of success if you do this during the cooler months of the year.

Step 6

Use live traps to collect voles. Then release them in a wild area far from your garden.

Tips and Warnings

  • Voles can carry diseases, so be careful if you need to handle them. Follow instructions for the proper use of chemical products.

Things You'll Need

  • Steel wool
  • Lawnmower (optional)
  • Weed whacker (optional)
  • Rototiller (optional)
  • Chemical repellents (optional)
  • Mousetraps
  • Live trap(s) (optional)


  • Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management
  • Identifying and controlling voles
Keywords: vole pest, bulbs garden, control rodent

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.