Moles and Voles in The Lawn
Moles and voles are indeed a pest that cause many problems when they live in our lawns in Akron OH and gardens with their tunnels.
They makes tunnels all through out your landscape very quickly once they are established. You will also see mounds of dirt where they exit. Many times you will only feel lumps and the lump is actually a tunnel. In mulched beds they can be extremely destructive, the tunnels will actually raise up the soil under a plant as the pest passes through, making an unsightly bed. Sometimes young plants in a flower bed will literally disappear below the soil surface. In the lawn other than the obvious ridges and hill mounds that make the lawn unsightly and kill the lawn. Even deeper tunnels can kill the roots of the turf to make quite the design in your lawn.
Other than having similar names, voles and moles have very little in common. They are two entirely different pests, yet very often confused. Moles are better known pest, but it may actually be a vole causing the damage especially in your gardens and flower beds.
Appearance: Is it a mole or a vole?
Moles are generally 5 to 7 inches in length, gray to dark brown in color. They are not rodents and have a long, naked snout, no external ears and can tunnel 1 foot per minute. Their eyes are buried in their fur to protect them. They are often seen because they live and feed underground and like moist or loose soil. Since they do not eat plants, their landscape carnage is really the incidental damage of tunnels dug in lawns searching for food. However, tunnels may cause damage to plants when they create paths around root systems. Another objection from homeowners when mowing the lawn is dirt that is mounded up in a rounded volcanic shape known as a molehill.
Voles are indeed a rodent looking much like mice with shorter tails. Voles are usually 5 to 7 inches long also and may be black, gray or brown. Voles have eyes and ears that can be easily seen. They can either burrow or use old mole tunnels. Between burrow openings, they will create surface runways about the size of a broomstick that you can see. They stay in nests above ground, coming out to eat day and night.
Diet and Habits
The mole’s diet is almost exclusively earthworms and grubs, with very few insects. Voles are plant eaters or herbivores. They feed on grasses, flowers, vegetables, bulbs and seeds. In the winter when food is hard to come by, they may eat bark from trees and shrubs.
Moles are not social mammals, seeking each other out at only mating time. There are generally 4 to 7 per litter and their life span is 2 to 3 years.
Voles are prolific reproducers that can quickly colonize your entire yard. Their life span is only about 16 months, so they have to make up for it by having 3 to 6 young at a time with only a 21 day gestation period. Because they reproduce so very quickly, eat so many different things, and are good at hiding, they can do much damage before you figure out the problem.
The only beneficial thing someone could say about a mole that they consume large numbers of grubs. Although in the quest for those grubs they do severe damage to the lawn which is just counter productive. A vole has zero arguments on any benefits.