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Moles and Voles in my Garden, Oh my!

These furry mammals live in our garden, and there is no way to get rid them. Pest control is just that; we can try to control their damage to our crops, but there is no completely eliminating them from our plots. 


Voles


Although not a mouse, voles are sometimes called “meadow mice” based on their close resemblance. The species most often responsible for vole-related backyard and garden damage west of the Cascades is Townsend’s vole. 


Damage is usually identified easily by the tiny tooth scars on woody plants. Bulbs and roots are often completely eaten over winter, and trees can be completely girdled. During the spring, feeding moves to the new growth as herbaceous plants sprout and leaf out. Voles burrow underground in complex tunnels.


Vole hole

Before carrots

After carrots

After vole damage on peas


The following two publications have additional valuable information about voles:



Moles


The Townsend’s mole is found throughout western Washington and Oregon. All moles have short, velvety fur (usually grayish to black). The tail is very short and nearly hairless; the snout is slender and pointed, contains small needle-like teeth, and is also nearly hairless. The forepaws are tipped outward for digging. 


Moles are rarely seen aboveground, but they occasionally emerge from their tunnels. Underground, moles build tunnels that they use daily to move around their territory and collect food. Excess soil excavated when making tunnels is pushed to the surface, leaving characteristic conical mounds. 


Moles feed primarily on invertebrates, with earthworms comprising much of their diet. They also feed on other organisms, such as grubs, slugs, snails, and adult and larval insects. Occasionally, they will feed on plant parts, especially grasses, but moles seldom cause significant damage to plants in the landscape. Plant damage in the landscape attributed to moles is often caused by voles and small rodents that may also use the tunnel systems constructed by moles.


More information about moles here:



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