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Unearthing the Truth: Moles vs. Voles and How to Manage Them

The unexpected climate shifts—last year’s drought followed by an early Spring and significant precipitation—have not only altered our landscapes but have also led to increased mole activity in our lawns. At Taylor’s Way, while we offer baiting and Repellex treatments to manage these critters, we acknowledge that there’s no foolproof solution. However, understanding the difference between moles and voles, and debunking common myths, can empower homeowners to take more effective actions toward managing their presence.

 

Moles vs. Voles: Know Your Foe

Though often confused for one another, moles and voles have distinct habits and impacts on your garden and lawn.

 

Moles:

Moles are solitary creatures that live underground, rarely seen by homeowners. They’re insectivores, primarily feeding on earthworms and grubs. The visible signs of their presence are mounds of soil and raised ridges across your lawn, resulting from their tunneling activities. These tunnels can disrupt root systems, indirectly harming plants.

 

Did you know:

Moles do not hibernate, they eat and tunnel all year. 

🪱 The mole needs to consume 85% of their body weight daily and will consume 45-50 pounds of earthworms per year. 

🪱 Earthworms are their main diet.

❤️ They reproduce 2-6 young in the spring.

🌱 They can dig nearly 18’ of surface tunnels per hour and can travel 80’ in one minute.

➡️ Moles have subsurface tunnels that can be as much as 5’ beneath the surface. 

Getting rid of grubs will not get rid of moles. 

 

Voles:

Voles, on the other hand, are small rodents that resemble mice. Unlike moles, voles eat plants as well as insects and can cause significant damage to grass, perennial plants’ roots, and bulbs. They create numerous shallow tunnels and paths in the lawn and are more likely to be seen by homeowners.

 

Effective Management Strategies

 

For Moles:

Baiting: Mimics their natural food source and can be an effective way to manage their population.  Follow the instructions on the packaging and target travel runs for best results (long, straight runs that moles use to get around their territory). Moles are more likely to re-use this type of run, leading to higher success rates versus placing traps in feeding runs or in mounds.

 

Traps: Use press down spike or scissor traps to control moles by placing traps in travel runs. 

Repellex: A treatment that makes their food source unpalatable, encouraging them to move elsewhere.

➡️ Many people believe that DIY mole control remedies are worth trying. The problem is that not only are these methods ineffective, but some are outright dangerous!  Mole and vole control is an ongoing process that requires maintenance. Applying gasoline or vehicle exhaust to affected areas (both highly dangerous!), inserting chewing gum or glass into the mole tunnels (Moles will just dig around these!), or using pinwheels and other items to cause vibrations underground are not effective ways to rid your yard of these pests. The most effective method is installing a system of baits, traps, and repellents that are continuously monitored.

 

Myth-Busting Moles

 

Myth 1: Moles Eat Plant Roots

Moles are often blamed for eating plant roots, but their diet is primarily insectivores, focusing on earthworms. The damage to plants is collateral, caused by their tunneling activities.  Voles however, will often feed on the fleshy roots of plants such as Daylilies and Hostas causing serious injury or death to these plants!

 

Myth 2: All Tunneling is Moles

Not all lawn damage is caused by moles. Voles, which eat plant material, will create burrows and pathways that can be mistaken for mole activity.

 

Myth 3: Moles are Nocturnal.

Moles can be active at any time of day and are often more active during wet periods, regardless of the time.

 

Myth 4: Killing grubs will get rid of Moles

While grubs are an important food source for moles, applying grub killer products to your lawn or landscape will not guarantee a mole-free landscape.  These products have no effect on the moles’ primary food source, earthworms.  So even with a grub free landscape there will likely be plenty of food for hungry moles to root around for.

 

In conclusion, understanding the differences between moles and voles is crucial for effective lawn and garden management. While our services at Taylor’s Way, like baiting and Repellex treatments, provide avenues for management, identifying the specific culprit and employing targeted strategies can lead to better outcomes. Remember, a balanced approach, combining physical, chemical, and cultural methods, often yields the best results in managing these critters and keeping your outdoor spaces healthy and beautiful.

 

For more tips on lawn care and managing wildlife in your garden, call our office at 815-875-8231 or send us an email at info@taylorsway.com