Voles, Moles. How to Get Rid of Them.

Something is tearing up my garden. Worse yet, for five years.   Every spring, I come out to a garden that has deep tunnels, which lead to nowhere.  I am not kidding.    So, why are they digging?

For five years, I have been shaking my head.  Well, last year was the mother of all digging.   Whomever *it* or *they* are, they nearly destroyed my onion patch and basically killed my Rudbeckia.  Thank goodness, my Rudbeckia was on to them  and moved out of the way.
(Plants are so darn smart.)

But, here is the kicker.  The vole/mole  also destroyed where my mint is!  Everyone hates mint except this creature.

Now just to give you some frame of reference.  My compost bin is a few yards away from the digging.  They try and dig near the bin too but there is wire mesh under the bin.

So, I turn to you. Please put on your Sherlock Holmes’ hat and tell me who is the culprit?  Moles, Voles, or some unnamed creature. Watch my video below for some clues.  And yes, you will hear my utter frustration.

What Hasn’t Worked:

I have been looking for a way for these creature to nicely leave my garden.

  • Onions.  They have burrowed through my onion patch last year like it was a piece of cake.
  • Planted mint.  They think it smells nice.
  • Have a hardware fence 2 feet underground.  It hasn’t stopped them from digging.  I have no idea where they are digging to.  The fence stops them cold.   (So, I think…)

What I Read Might Help

  • A dog or a cat.  Can I borrow someone’s?
  • Spraying a castor oil mixture. According to Garden’s Alive:

“Just add two tablespoons of castor oil to a sprinkling can filled with a gallon of warm water, add two drops of dishwashing liquid, and sprinkle, stirring constantly, on the infested area.

Whether home-made or store bought, apply when the lawn and weather are dry. If heavy rains hit, repeat a day or two after they end; otherwise, reapply once a month until you see no new tunnels.”

  • Another mixture suggested on Garden Web was one tablespoon of  regular old store bought castor oil with 1 cup of urine per gallon of water.  The commenter stated that he made it a little bit stronger and saturated the root zones of the plants.
  • Use hardware collars around the plants was another suggestion on Garden Web .   The commenter  used “1/4″ hardware cloth that come to just above the ground surface and are 6 – 8″ deep and 8″ to 2′ in diameter, depending on the plant. ”  In addition, he put gravel around the plant.
  •  Garden’s Alive also suggests an owl/ hawk stand, which “consist of a cross beam six to ten feet off the ground for them to hunt from.”  (Well,  there is an idea.)
  • For moles, get rid  of their food source, grubs with beneficial nematodes.
  • Some even suggest a Mole remover stick like this one.  I hate to admit this, but I bought one.  Yes, I am desperate.

Join the Conversation:

  • What have you used to get rid of moles and voles?
  • Has the mole remover stick worked for you?
  • What kind of damage have they caused?

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  1. 1

    Keith Goding says

    Moles are carnivorous, voles are herbivores. Moles eat grubs and earthworms; voles eat plant roots.
    For moles, eliminating grubs is only eliminating breakfast. Both are best eliminated by trapping. Most other remedies are a waste of time and money.

    Moles in a yard surrounded by yards full of moles can only be eliminated if there is a neighborhood effort…otherwise you will just chase the moles to your neighbors’ yards…and sooner than later they will return

  2. 3

    Farrah says

    I have moles and chipmunks. I’ve actually caught a couple. That’s how I know. Getting rid of the grubs doesn’t really help. They eat earth worms too. :( Dogs and cats don’t seem to work here either. My dog will completely excavate all their tunnel leaving what looks like irrigation ditches running through my garden, but she’s never actually caught the moles. I’m planning to try the urine and castor oil. Keep us update if the vibration stick thing works! Good luck!

  3. 5

    Louise says

    In 2011, I trapped 96 voles. Last year the total was 63. I have a running count of 2 this year. My best answer is get mousetraps. Set them with a little peanut butter covered with a large pot or box on top. I have trapped 11 out of the same hole. I think I got the whole family. FYI Moles don’t eat plants. They love grubs. The voles do use tunnels made by moles. Since you have so many holes in your yard. Fill them in. Then see which new holes appear, and set a trap. Make sure you check it often. Sometimes they fill in the hole. I laugh, dig it out and reset the trap again.
    To plant a garden is to believe in the future.

  4. 8

    Keith L. Goding says

    Same with voles…trap them or be content to live with them. And again, voles eat the roots of plants; moles eat earthworms and grubs. Eliminating grubs does not take away their food source, only a portion of it.

    Grubs are the larvae of beetles. They are dormant in the winter and lay eggs in mid July. In August they move toward the surface of lawns and eat the grass roots. Moles love grubs and are attracted to lawns and gardens that have a significant grub population…..but their other STAPLE is earthworms. From a mole’s perspective, think of grubs as French fries and earthworms as cheeseburgers.
    If you want to make your lawn less attractive to grubs:
    1) over seed your lawn Spring and Fall…thick grass is unattractive to beetles
    2)keep grass cut no lower than 3″ to 3.5″….beetles don’t like to lay eggs in long grass
    3)fertilize your lawn in the Spring and Fall
    4)water your lawn appropriately…one inch of water per week….water 2 or 3 times a week, not every day…better to give the lawn a good soaking and then let it dry out between watering. Grub(beetle)
    eggs require water to hatch, so a constantly moist soil/lawn is ideal for hatch
    5)treat the lawn in July with products that contain halofenozide or imidacloprid OR for a non chemical treatment apply Milky Spore 3X a year for 2 years OR introduce nematodes to the lawn (small worms that release bacteria into the soil that kills lawn grubs.

  5. 9

    jeff says

    std home mice removal compounds work fine on voles. bait granules/blocks are eaten w/gusto. doesn’t hurt moles, who are helpful in removing yard grubs that eat grass roots.
    also get a cat or 3… they completely rid the lawn of anything that moves..

  6. 10

    Keith Goding says

    Jeff, keep the phone number for your vet handy…if you poison a vole with “standard mice removal compounds” and then your cat eats a dead or dying vole, your cat will likely be harmed. Most mice removal compounds are not kid or pet friendly.

  7. 11

    Keith Goding says

    The other problem with mice poison is harm to non-targeted predators.
    Owls, hawks, foxes, coyote, etc. that ingest the poison from a poisoned, dead or dying mole or vole will be harmed or killed. Chemicals used in standard mice removal compounds include bromethalin and difenacoum, which are not safe if ingested by kids, wildlife or pets. And yes, moles are helpful in ridding a yard of grubs; but they destroy yards by creating tunnels and “mole hills” in search of grubs.

  8. 12

    Keith Goding says

    BTW…there is no antidote for bromethalin if ingested. And
    difenacoum is very harmful to freshwater fish even in very diluted amounts….so difenacoum that enters the groundwater after a rainstorm works its way into streams, lakes and rivers…eventually. It has a fairly long half life, so it doesn’t lose its toxicity very quickly

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