Moles vs. Voles: What Pests Are in Your Yard?
Whether they’re moles or voles, they sure like making holes!
Not where you want them though. In fact, exactly where you don’t want them, usually through your beautifully manicured lawn. But apart from the fact they both like burrowing, they don’t have that much else in common.
Knowing the difference is crucial to getting rid of these little pests in the yard once and for all.
Join us as we explore moles vs voles: what pests are in your yard?
Moles vs Voles – The Physical Differences
If you’re wondering whether you have moles or voles in your yard, then you probably haven’t seen them. That’s because the actual animals look strikingly different from each other.
Moles have a rounded body and usually have dark brown fur. They may appear to be squinting- that’s because they are color blind and not blessed with very good eyesight. Ideal for animals that spend most of their time underground!
North American moles tend to be larger than those in other parts of the world. They can measure up to 7 inches long, and weigh up to 4 ounces. Not massive, but longer than other species.
No description of moles would be complete without mentioning their wide feet and big claws. They appear totally out of proportion to their body, but they need them in order to dig holes to locate their prey.
By contrast, voles are rodents and easily identifiable as such. They’re related to hamsters and can grow up to 9 inches in length. They’re nocturnal, so they’re not easy for gardeners to spot.
There are 23 species native to the United States, and they tend to spend their whole lives in a small area of around 1/4 acre. Their fur is grey or pale brown, they have a blunt nose and fur-covered ears.
Moles or Voles? Dietary Differences
Moles and voles may both burrow and cause yard damage, but they’re looking for different things.
The easy way to remember the difference is to think of m for meat and v for vegetables. Moles are looking for earthworms, whereas voles feast on roots.
Moles are actually pretty impressive as hunters. Not only do they hunt and eat earthworms, but they also create a store of them for later. And they need to because it is believed that they eat their own body weight in earthworms every day.
Coming back to voles, we should probably call voles flexitarian. They will indulge in a snail or an insect if they have to. But given the choice, they’ll always hit the salad bar.
In your yard, that means feasting on grass, roots, border plants, bulbs – really, anything that you don’t want them to eat.
Mole and Voles in Your Yard
Have you been unable to spot your unwanted guest? The trail of destruction they leave behind can give you a clue as to whether it is a mole or a vole.
First of all, check any trees in the garden. Voles love to eat bark and will strip the bark from the base of a tree if you let them. They may also start to attack the roots of the tree.
Voles also prefer the great outdoors to tunneling underground. They tend to create runways over the surface of your lawn. They nibble away at the grass until a clear strip is visible.
If your trees are not affected and your plants are intact, you’ve probably got a mole in your garden instead. Moles leave telltale molehills. Although they do most of their burrowing around 8 inches below the ground, sometimes they need to surface!
This results in those familiar mounds. This is also a sign that they’re either setting up or repairing their burrows. If you see new molehills appear, it’s time to take action!
Keeping Moles and Voles at Bay
The best way to prevent mole damage is to keep the little pests as far away from your garden as possible. You can get in pest control to come and remove them. Or you can make the environment as inhospitable as possible.
For voles, you need to make it clear to them that they are not wanted. This starts with disrupting their runways.
Voles like places they can hang out, such as piles of grass or leaves, mulch, and ground covering plants. By keeping these to a minimum you send a clear message to voles to move on.
Voles are also repelled by the smell of garlic. You can make a solution of chopped garlic in water and spray it around your garden. Focus on the vole runways first.
How to Fix Yard Damage
Moles leave two types of problems for gardeners.
First, molehills. These can be solved quite easily by removing the dirt and filling in the hole with a mixture of soil and sand. Then sow grass seed over the hole to restore the lawn.
Moles also leave feeding runways. These are long stretches of disrupted earth, which can become a trip hazard if not treated. Again, fill the holes with 50/50 topsoil and sand and sow grass seed over the top as needed.
Vole runways will do permanent damage to your lawn if you do not treat them.
You can do this by raking the lawn, and filling in the runways with soil. Then sow grass seed to eliminate the runway permanently. Regularly mowing the lawn can discourage them from establishing a new one.
Moles Vs Voles – The Difference is Clear!
If you keep wondering, ‘Are there pests in my yard?’, we hope you’re now clear on what you’re dealing with!
The question of moles vs voles is perplexing until you understand a little more about their habits. While both are cute in their own ways, you definitely want to take steps to move them on. Doing so will prevent yard damage and might even save a broken ankle!
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